Textbook purchasing contract made by an intellectually disabled person - Cooling off period was used with the aid of persons nearby
The following shows a case where an elderly person at a nursing home (hereinafter called "X") worried about an intellectually disabled son and asked X's caregiver to visit and check on the son, which revealed that he had bought textbooks solicited by phone.
Details of the inquiry
An elderly person I was caring for at a nursing home (X: nursing care level 5, bedridden) asked me to visit X's intellectually disabled son living alone to see if he is OK. When I visited his apartment, I found a purchase contract and brand-new textbooks costing 400 thousand yen. His monthly income is roughly 100 thousand yen gaining from a part-time job and the disability basic pension, so it might be hard for him to pay 400 thousand yen. He said "I received a phone call from a stranger and bought the textbooks", but details are unknown. He can write his name and address if he is told to do so, but I don't think he understands details of conversation with others and the content of the textbooks. When I asked him if he needs the textbooks, he said "No". When I explained X what happened to him, X asked me to cancel the contract for him. The textbooks are not used and clean. He has a medical certificate of intellectual disability. Is it possible to cancel the contract?
(inquirer: man, salary earner / contract signatory: man in his 30s, part-timer)
As soon as receiving the inquiry, the local consumer center (hereinafter called "the center") asked the contract signatory to bring the purchase contract and textbooks to the center, and heard the background of entering into the contract and his will to cancel the contract. He slowly replied to the center's questions one by one recalling what happened, but he did not remember the dealer's name and the process of entering into the contract. He answers "Yes" to any kind of questions, so he supposedly entered into the contract in this way.
The date written on the contract was two days before the day of inquiry. It was strange that the textbooks had already delivered to him on the day of inquiry. When the center asked this question to him, he said "They were delivered from another company. I pay for the textbooks every month". As a result, the center found out that there were two contracts made by him: (1) a contract made through telephone solicitation / there was a written contract, but no textbook was delivered; (2) a contract without a written contract / textbooks had been already delivered. Concerning the contract (2), the dealer was not identified since there was no written contract. When the center asked the contract signatory the way he transmitted the money and the payee, he repeatedly said "I don't know". Therefore, the center handled the two contracts as described below. Concerning the contract (2), the center decided to negotiate with the dealer as soon as it was identified.
(1) Contract with a written contract, but no textbooks delivered yet
Since the contract signatory and his parent wanted to cancel the contract, the center told them to write a post card notifying his will to use the cooling off period addressed to the dealer written on the contract, while the center contacted the dealer by phone. The center told the dealer that there was no need to deliver the textbooks since the contract signatory intended to use the cooling off period and that he had a medical certificate of intellectual disability and his parent did not want him to be solicited and intended to refuse any kind of solicitation in the future. The dealer replied that they would accept his use of cooling off period in light of the phone call from the center and that they would not contact him in the future.
In addition, the center recommended the dealer to improve their way of description since the written contract did not indicate specific names of textbooks, quantity, and names of a representative of the dealer and the person in charge of the contract. The dealer said in a loud voice "I told that we would accept the use of cooling off period!". To be sure, the center asked the dealer if a contract was made on the textbooks already delivered. If the contract was made, the center intended to negotiate cancellation of the contract for textbooks delivered. The dealer told that the abovementioned contract (1) was the first contract with him and no contract was made before that.
The center gave an explanation to the contract signatory slowly and carefully, reminding him to surely send the postcard for cooling off and telling him to refuse to accept goods even if they are delivered and never to make payment. Later, when the center gave him a phone call to ask if he sent the postcard, he told that he had sent it as simple registered mail. He also recalled and told the company name to which he made payment for the textbooks delivered.
(2) Contract without a written contract, but textbooks already delivered
The textbooks at his apartment appeared to be hand-made rather than marketable ones. It was a set of four textbooks. All of them were made of cheap paper and were plainly bound. Names of publisher and writer were not written, and there was nothing to identify the dealer.
The contract signatory recalled the company name as payee, from which the center supposed the dealer would be an outlet of textbooks and identified its telephone number. Although the center called the number several times, the connection was always cut off after the second ring. The center communicated the situation to the contract signatory and recommended him to stop the monthly payment. The center thought that the dealer would contact him after stopping payment and it could be identified. The center recommended him to wait for a contact from the dealer, which was accepted by him.
One month later, the center called the contract signatory to ask the subsequent status. He said "I stopped payment, but I haven't received any phone call after consulting the center", so the center stopped the consultation.
As for the contract for textbooks made through telephone solicitation, he was able to use the cooling off period. As for another contract for the textbooks already delivered, details remained unknown since it was difficult to hear details from the contract signatory. Although the center expected that cancellation would be possible because he was intellectually disabled, but it was unable to reach a fundamental solution.
Since the inquirer is a caregiver for a parent of the contract signatory, it was difficult for the inquirer to continue to carefully observe the contract signatory in the future. A sole family member of the contract signatory is a bedridden parent, so he needs to be watched over and/or to move into a care house in order to prevent him from getting involved in consumer trouble. In response to his parent's will, the inquirer consulted a municipal helpdesk for disability aid. This case reaffirmed the necessity for enhanced linkage between local consumer centers and local welfare departments.
- * This article includes information from a local consumer administrative department.