What is my legal responsibility regarding a refund for an item that I sold?

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What is my legal responsibility regarding a refund for an item that I sold?

I sold a cell phone through private sale; I never had any problem with it. I signed that it was in working condition. I took a video of the phone for insurance showing the phone functioning. The lady that bought it from me says that she is having problems with it and she wants her money back. Do I have to return her the money or can I fix the phone or order a replacement? We never agreed on what we would do if she had a problem with the phone. What if there is nothing wrong with it but it’s the battery? Even rechargeable batteries need to be replaced eventually. Phone is at least 4 years old.

Asked on June 2, 2011 under Business Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There is no simple or easy answer, because  it depends on the circumstances. If the phone had a defect when you sold it, including an almost-dead battery, but you represented the phone as being in good working order, that would typically require you to either take the phone back and refund it or else provide a replacement. That said, if the sale was explicitly "as is," then you would not be responsible for defects of which you were unware, though would still have to refund, etc. if you knew of the problem when you sold it.

On the other hand, if the problem developed later, you would not be liable.

So the circumstances determine the outcome, though you may also wish to consider whether it's worthwhile potentially, if the women is sufficiently upset or motivated, ending up in litigation, or with BBB complaints, etc., over this phone.


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