What legal obligations do I have as owner of an estate sale business?

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What legal obligations do I have as owner of an estate sale business?

I sold a working air conditioner in near new condition to a woman at an estate sale for $250. After 3 months she wants her money back, claiming it doesn’t work. I have re-checked it and it does work, putting out 53 degree air. What are my legal obligations?

Asked on August 4, 2010 under General Practice, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Did you sell the air conditioner subject to any guaranties or warranties? If so, they have to be honored.

Or if you made certain representations about the air conditioner--e.g. it can put out 40 degree air; it is in perfect order and can go at least a year before requiring any servicing; etc.--you might be bound to honor those representations.

Other than that, though, if you sold an item without warranties or guaranties, and you neither made representations about the object that could be deemed to have created a contract or agreeement, nor made any material representations (or omissions) about it that could rise to the level of fraud, you would have no additional responsiblities vis-a-vis the item.

Fraud is when, knowing something to be untrue, to make a statement of some material (important) fact, or omit to state some key material fact, with the intention that your representation or omission cause someone to act in a way (such as buying an item) that they wouldn't have acted but for the misrepresentation or omission. It's essentially lying to make the sale.


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