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

UPDATED: Jun 2, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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