Columbus, OH asked in Consumer Law and Elder Law for Puerto Rico

Q: Are the elderly in PR protected against conmen salespeople?

My elderly father was coerced by a salesperson (this man was an unexpected guest who tagged along with a "friend's" visit). After 8 hours, the man presented this item (at 12a) and my dad was coerced into buying a $4,000 vacuum. He is elderly, hearing impaired and was exhausted at the time. Now he can't return the item. Can we open some sort of case against the company to get his money back?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Rafael  Pagan-Colon
Rafael Pagan-Colon
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • San Juan, PR
  • Licensed in Puerto Rico

A: Financial exploitation of the elderly is regrettably becoming too commonplace. For the sake of our discussion, I'm assuming that your dad lives alone in Puerto Rico. Does he have any family living in Puerto Rico? A close relative would assist in minimizing the possibility of this scenario recurring in the future. Also, I would seriously consider placing a protection order against the "friend" and against the salesperson, to protect your father. Also, your father can go to his bank and place a hold on any direct payments to be made to the distributor, ALTHOUGH, this should be done by way of opening an investigation with the bank.

That being said, I would broach the matter with both the Puerto Family Department and the Procurador de Personas de Edad Avanzada, to determine with each how far can they intervene in the manner with the appliance's distributor to negate the debt. Although legislation exists to protect the elderly in Puerto Rico, going to the Court may not bring the desired results in an expedient manner; given that our Rule of Law presumes that your father is capable to handle his own person and his own affairs.

I do have several questions to which I would need answers in order to counsel you further: Does your father live alone? Who else was present during the 8-hour visit? How did you come to learn about the specifics of what occurred? Who was the unexpected guest who visited your father for 8 hours? With whom has your father been in contact to return the item? Did your father give his bank account information when he signed (what I'm assuming would be) the purchase order? Does your father have a copy of any contract/purchase order he signed? Is your father capable of attending his person and his personal affairs? (If the answer to this last question is "No", you or some other close relative may need to request the court to declare him incompetent and assign him a legal guardian. Among other requirements, the legal guardian must also have resided in Puerto Rico for at least the previous year.

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