2009 California Civil Code - Section 1810-1810.12 :: Article 10. Retail Installment AccountsCIVIL CODE
1810. For the purposes of this article, a retail installment account agreement shall be deemed to be accepted by the buyer if (1) the buyer signs the agreement, including signing an application containing the terms of the agreement, or (2) the account is used by the buyer or a person who has been authorized by the buyer to use the account, and the buyer has been notified in writing that the use of the credit card will mean that the agreement has been accepted by the buyer. The agreement shall not become effective unless and until the buyer has been given or provided with the disclosures required pursuant to Section 1810.1, and has accepted the agreement as provided in this section. A subsequent change in any term of the agreement shall not become effective until the seller has given notice of the change and complies with the provisions of subdivision (d) of Section 1810.3. 1810.1. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this article to the contrary, before the first transaction is made on any retail installment account, the seller shall disclose to the buyer in a single written statement, which the buyer may retain, in terminology consistent with the requirements of Section 1810.3, each of the following items, to the extent applicable: (a) The conditions under which a finance charge may be imposed, including an explanation of the time period, if any, within which any credit extended may be paid without incurring a finance charge. (b) The method of determining the balance upon which a finance charge may be imposed. (c) The method of determining the amount of the finance charge, including the method of determining any minimum, charge which may be imposed as a finance charge. (d) Where one or more periodic rates may be used to compute the finance charge, each such rate, the range of balances to which it is applicable, and the corresponding annual percentage rate determined by multiplying the periodic rate by the number of periods in a year. (e) The conditions under which any other charges may be imposed, and the method by which they will be determined. (f) The conditions under which the creditor may retain or acquire any security interest in any property to secure the payment of any credit extended on the account, and a description or identification of the type of the interest or interests which may be so retained, or acquired. (g) The minimum periodic payment required. In addition to the penalties provided under Article 12.2 (commencing with Section 1812.6) of this chapter, until the seller delivers the written statement required by this section, the buyer shall be obligated to pay only the cash price of the goods or services. 1810.2. Subject to the other provisions of this article, the seller or holder of a retail installment account may charge, receive and collect a finance charge as disclosed to the buyer pursuant to Section 1810.3. 1810.3. (a) Except in the case of an account which the seller deems to be uncollectible or with respect to which delinquency collection procedures have been instituted, the seller of any retail installment account shall mail or deliver to the buyer for each billing cycle at the end of which there is an outstanding debit balance in excess of one dollar ($1) in that account or with respect to which a finance charge is imposed, a statement or statements which the buyer may retain, setting forth in accordance with subdivision (c) each of the following items to the extent applicable: (1) The outstanding balance in the account at the beginning of the billing cycle, using the term "previous balance." (2) The amount and date of each extension of credit or the date the extension of credit is debited to the account during the billing cycle and, unless previously furnished, a brief identification of any goods or services purchased or other extension of credit. (3) The total amounts credited to the account during the billing cycle for payments, using the term "payment," and for other credits, including returns, rebates of finance charges, and adjustments, using the term "credits," and unless previously furnished, a brief identification of each of the items included in the other credits. (4) The amount of any finance charge, using the term "finance charge," debited to the account during the billing cycle, itemized and identified to show the amounts, if any, due to the application of periodic rates and the amount of any other charge included in the finance charge, such as a minimum charge, using appropriate descriptive terminology. (5) Each periodic rate, using the term "periodic rate" (or "rates" ), that may be used to compute the finance charge (whether or not applied during the billing cycle), and the range of balances to which it is applicable. (6) The balance on which the finance charge was computed, and a statement of how that balance was determined. If any balance is determined without first deducting all credits during the billing cycle, that fact and the amount of the credits shall also be disclosed. (7) The closing date of the billing cycle and the outstanding balance in the account on that date, using the term "new balance," accompanied by the statement of the date by which, or the period, if any, within which, payment must be made to avoid additional finance charges. (b) The seller shall mail or deliver the statements required by subdivision (a) at least 14 days prior to any date or the end of any time period required to be disclosed under paragraph (7) of subdivision (a) in order for the consumer to avoid an additional finance or other charge. A seller that fails to meet this requirement shall not collect any finance or other charges imposed as a result of the failure. (c) The disclosures required by subdivision (a) may be made on the face of the periodic statement or on its reverse side. In addition, the disclosures required by subdivision (a) may be made on the periodic statement supplemented by separate statement forms if they are enclosed together and delivered to the customer at the same time and if all of the following conditions are met: (1) The disclosures required by paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) shall appear on the face of the periodic statement. If the amounts and dates of the charges and credits required to be disclosed under paragraphs (2) and (3) of subdivision (a) are not itemized on the face or reverse side of the periodic statement, they shall be disclosed on a separate statement or separate slips which shall accompany the periodic statement and identify each charge and credit and show the date and amount thereof. Identification of goods or services purchased may be made on an accompanying slip or by symbol relating to an identification list printed on the statement. If the disclosures required under paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) are not itemized on the face or reverse side of the periodic statement, they shall be disclosed on a separate statement which shall accompany the periodic statement. (2) The disclosures required by paragraph (5) of subdivision (a) and a reference to the amounts required to be disclosed under paragraphs (4) and (6) of subdivision (a), if not disclosed together on the face or the reverse side of the periodic statement, shall appear together on the face of a single supplemental statement which shall accompany the periodic statement. (3) The face of the periodic statement shall contain one of the following notices, as applicable: "NOTICE: See reverse side for important information" or "NOTICE: See accompanying statement(s) for important information" or "NOTICE: See reverse side and accompanying statement(s) for important information." (4) The disclosures shall not be separated so as to confuse or mislead the customer, or to obscure or detract attention from the information required to be disclosed. (d) If any change is to be made in terms of a retail installment account previously disclosed to the buyer, the seller shall mail or deliver to the buyer written disclosure of the proposed change not less than 30 days prior to the effective date of the change or 30 days prior to the beginning of the billing cycle within which the change will become effective, whichever is the earlier date. When the change involves a reduction of any component of a finance charge or other charge, the notice shall be sufficient if it appears on or accompanies the periodic statements mailed or delivered to buyers receiving periodic statements in the ordinary course of business. When the change involves an increase in any component of a finance charge, as defined in Section 1802.10, or involves a change in a charge permitted by Section 1810.4 or a change in the attorney's fee provision in the agreement pursuant to Section 1810.4, the change shall be effective only with respect to purchases made on or after the effective date of the change. (e) (1) If any outstanding credit balance in excess of one dollar ($1) exists in a retail installment account, the seller shall mail or deliver to the buyer at the end of the billing cycle in which the credit balance is created either of the following: (A) A cash refund in the amount of the outstanding credit. (B) A statement setting forth the credit balance, and thereafter shall mail or deliver to the buyer a statement setting forth the credit balance no fewer than two additional times during the six-month period following creation of the credit balance. (2) If the credit balance exists for a period of 90 days, the seller shall, at his or her option, do either of the following: (A) Notify the buyer of his or her right to request and receive a cash refund in the amount of the outstanding credit balance in two successive statements covering, respectively, each of the two successive billing cycles immediately following the 90-day period. The notice is to be accomplished by a clear and conspicuous disclosure on or enclosed with each of the two successive statements, each of which shall be accompanied by a self-addressed return envelope. The disclosure shall contain the following information and may be in the following form: "We owe you ____. Your credit balance will be refunded on request. If you don't request a refund, six months from the first appearance of a "credit balance" on your bill, your credit balance will be refunded automatically. "If your credit balance is $1.00 or less, it will not be refunded unless requested, and after 6 months, it will not be credited against future purchases. "You may obtain a refund of your credit balance by mail by presenting your statement at our store or by returning the top half of your statement in the enclosed envelope." If between the sending of the first notice and the sending of the second notice required by this subparagraph, the outstanding credit balance is refunded to the buyer or otherwise disposed of, the sending of the second notice shall not be required. (B) Refund to the buyer the outstanding credit balance at any time after the credit balance is created in the buyer's account and prior to the date by which the first notice of the outstanding balance would have been sent had the seller elected to proceed under subparagraph (A). (f) (1) If a retail installment account with an outstanding credit balance in excess of one dollar ($1) which has been determined to be correct by the seller is dormant for a period of 180 days after the credit balance is created in the buyer's account, the seller shall mail or deliver a refund in the amount of the outstanding credit balance to the buyer at the buyer's last known address. (2) If any refund is returned to the seller with a notification to the effect that the addressee is not located at the address to which it was sent, the seller shall make one remailing of the refund with an address correction request, and shall mail the refund to the corrected address, if it is obtained. (3) If the refund reflecting an outstanding credit balance in excess of twenty-five dollars ($25) is again returned, the seller shall reinstate the full amount of the outstanding credit balance on the buyer's account to be retained and credited against future purchases for one year from the date on which the remailed refund was returned. The seller may continue to attempt to obtain a current mailing address for the buyer by whatever means the seller deems appropriate. Except as provided in subdivision (g), the seller shall not be required to take any further action with respect to sending any statement of the credit balance or otherwise with respect to the credit balance, unless the buyer of the account thereafter requests a refund of the credit balance, in which event the seller shall either make the refund or provide a written explanation as provided in paragraph (5) of this subdivision. (4) If a remailed refund reflecting an outstanding credit balance of twenty-five dollars ($25) or less is again returned, the seller, except as provided in subdivision (g), shall not be required to take any further action with respect to sending any statement of the credit balance to the buyer or otherwise with respect to the credit balance, unless the buyer of the account thereafter requests a refund of the credit balance, in which event the seller shall either make the refund or provide a written explanation as provided in paragraph (5) of this subdivision. (5) If a buyer requests, in person or by mail, a refund of a credit balance in any amount which has been reflected at any time on the buyer's account, the seller shall, within 30 days of receipt of the request, either refund the amount requested, or furnish the customer with a written explanation, with supporting documentation when available, of the reasons for refusing to refund the amount requested. (6) If a buyer, in writing, requests a seller to retain an outstanding credit balance on his or her account, the seller shall not be required to give notification as otherwise required by subdivisions (e) and (f). (g) If an outstanding credit balance remains unrefundable for three years from the date it was created in the buyer's account, then the amount of the buyer's outstanding credit balance shall escheat to the state as property included within Section 1520 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Those funds shall be paid or delivered to the Controller, and may thereafter be claimed, as specified in Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 1500) of Title 10 of Part 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure. (h) For the purposes of this section, an outstanding credit balance is created at the end of the billing cycle in which the credit balance is first recorded on a buyer's account and is created anew at the end of the billing cycle in which the recorded amount of an existing credit balance is changed because of the buyer's use of his or her account. 1810.4. The finance charge shall include all charges incident to investigating and making the retail installment account. No fee, expense, delinquency, collection, or other charge whatsoever shall be taken, received, reserved, or contracted by the seller or holder of a retail installment account except as provided in this section. A seller may, however, in an agreement which is accepted by the buyer and of which a copy is given or furnished to the buyer provide for the payment of attorney's fees and costs in conformity with Article 11 (commencing with Section 1811.1). Any subsequent change in any term of the agreement shall not become effective until the seller has given notice of the change and complies with the provisions of subdivision (d) of Section 1810.3. When credit cards are issued in connection with a retail installment account, the seller, either in the agreement or after giving the notice required by subdivision (d) of Section 1810.3, may require the payment of an annual fee of not more than fifteen dollars ($15) for membership in the credit card plan, which fee shall not be deemed a finance charge or interest for any purpose of the law. The seller or holder of a retail installment account may charge and collect a fee not to exceed fifteen dollars ($15) for the return by a depository institution of a dishonored check, negotiable order of withdrawal, or share draft issued in connection with the retail installment account. The fee is not included in charges as defined in this chapter or in determining the applicable charges which may be made under this chapter. 1810.5. If the cost of any insurance is to be separately charged to the buyer, there shall be an agreement to this effect, signed by both the buyer and the seller, a copy of which shall be given or furnished to the buyer. Such agreement shall state whether the insurance is to be procured by the buyer or the seller or holder. If the insurance is to be procured by the seller or holder, the seller or holder shall comply with the provisions of Section 1803.5. 1810.6. Nothing in this article prohibits the execution of an agreement between a buyer and seller whereby the seller retains a security interest in goods sold to the buyer until full payment therefor has been made. For purposes of release of the security interests, in the case of goods or services purchased on different dates, the first purchased shall be deemed first paid for, and in the case of goods or services purchased on the same date, the lowest priced shall be deemed first paid for, and all amounts allocated to payment of these goods or services shall be applied to accomplish that result. However, any downpayment on a specific purchase shall be deemed to be allocated in its entirety to such purchase. 1810.7. No retail installment account shall require or entail the execution of any note or series of notes by the buyer which when separately negotiated will cut off as to third parties any right of action or defense which the buyer may have against the seller. 1810.8. The provisions of Sections 1806.1 and 1806.4 shall be applicable to retail installment accounts. 1810.10. (a) Notwithstanding the provision of any contract to the contrary, except as provided in subdivision (b) or (c), no retail seller shall assess any finance charge against the outstanding balance for goods purchased under a retail installment account until the goods are in the buyer's possession. (b) A finance charge may be assessed against the outstanding balance for such undelivered goods, as follows: (1) From the date when such goods are available for pickup by the buyer and the buyer is notified of their availability, or (2) From the date of purchase, when such goods are delivered or available for pickup by the buyer within 10 days of the date of purchase. (c) In the case of a home improvement contract as defined in Section 7151.2 of the Business and Professions Code, a finance charge may be assessed against the amount financed from the approximate date of commencement of the work as set forth in the home improvement contract. 1810.11. The buyer may request, not more frequently than once a year, that the seller inform the buyer of the total amount of finance charges assessed on the account during the preceding calendar year and the seller shall provide that information to the buyer within 30 days of receiving the request, without charge. If the buyer's request for the information is made in writing, the seller shall provide the information in writing, provided, however, that if the seller is required to furnish the buyer with a periodic billing or periodic statement of account or furnishes the billing or statement of account, the requested statement of finance charges may be furnished along with the periodic billing or periodic statement of account. "Seller," for the purposes of this section, means a person engaged in the business of selling goods or furnishing services to retail buyers whose annual sales pursuant to retail installment accounts in California have exceeded one hundred fifty million dollars ($150,000,000) in the seller's last two consecutive years. 1810.12. (a) Notwithstanding Section 1810.4, a seller or holder of a retail installment account may, subject to subdivision (d) of Section 1810.3, provide that for each installment in default the buyer shall pay a delinquency charge not in excess of one of the following amounts: (1) For a period in default of not less than 10 days, an amount not in excess of ten dollars ($10). (2) For a period in default of not less than 15 days, an amount not in excess of fifteen dollars ($15). (b) Only one delinquency charge may be collected on any installment regardless of the period during which it remains in default. No delinquency charge shall be imposed for any default of payment on any payment due prior to the mailing or delivery to the buyer of the written disclosure concerning the delinquency charge provided by the seller or holder of a retail installment account pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 1810.3. Payments timely received by the seller under a written extension or deferral agreement shall not be subject to any delinquency charge. The agreement may also provide for payment of any actual and reasonable costs of collection occasioned by removal of the goods from the state without written permission of the holder, or by the failure of the buyer to notify the holder of any change of residence, or by the failure of the buyer to communicate with the holder for a period of 45 days after any default in making payments due under the agreement. (c) Notwithstanding subdivision (b) of Section 1810.3, the seller or holder of a retail installment account shall provide a minimum of 20 days between the monthly billing date and the date upon which the minimum payment is due, exclusive of the applicable grace period provided in subdivision (a).
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