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Daily Q&A: Does small-claims court victory set precedent for gas voucher victims?



I read your article this morning (about an Indiana woman who successfully sued a retailer in small-claims court over the failed free gas voucher promotion) and had a question: Do you think that this sets a precedent for the other retailers? — Steve Barnier, Weeki Wachee

The gas voucher program has many different components, so experts say it is difficult to know what the result would be in small-claims court. Some retailers gave the vouchers to consumers as a door prize for visiting the store or attending a program. Others gave them as incentives to purchase products

The gas voucher program has many different components, so experts say it is difficult to know what the result would be in small claims court. Some retailers gave the vouchers to consumers as a door prize for visiting the store or attending a program. Others gave them as incentives to purchase products.

Consumer investigator Doug Templeton of the Pinellas County Department of Justice and Consumer Services says different states have their own processes for small-claims court. For example, some require mediation before a court hearing, which can eliminate the need for a court decision.

So there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to the question.

When considering a small-claims action related to the gas vouchers, Templeton said consumers should review the representations and offers made by the retailer.

In addition to small-claims court, John Zajac of the Better Business Bureau says consumers can simply approach the retailer themselves, seek mediation through the BBB (www.bbb.org) by filing a complaint, pursue legal action in small-claims court or participate in a class-action lawsuit.

Question for the Consumer's Edge? Send it to ipenn@sptimes.com or twitter.com/consumers_edge. Questions are answered only in this daily feature.

Daily Q&A: Does small-claims court victory set precedent for gas voucher victims? 10/20/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 4:37pm]
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