.

State2013 Statute Number2013 Statute Language

.

American SamoaA.S.C.A. § 27.0401.
Bureau of Consumer Protection created-Director.

There is created within the Department of Legal Affairs, a Bureau of Consumer Protection. The head of this Bureau is the Director, who has been admitted to practice law before the High Court. The Director is responsible to the Attorney General and shall devote his efforts to enforcing this chapter.

.

A.S.C.A. § 27.0402.
Director-Powers and duties.

(a) The Director shall:

(1) coordinate the Consumer Protection activities of the Territory;

(2) provide public education and awareness programs on consumer rights and remedies;

(3) investigate consumer complaints filed with the Department of Legal Affairs;

(4) prosecute criminal acts involving consumers;

(5) initiate appropriate civil actions to protect the rights of the consuming public;

(6) perform all other acts necessary to enforce this chapter;

(7) file an annual report with the Legislature each December 1st outlining the Bureau’s workload, projects, and accomplishments.

(b) The Director may:

(1) issue subpoenas to an individual, Director, officer, employee, or agent of a business organization within the Territory;

(2) appoint and Commission one or more investigators subject to approval by the Attorney General. Persons appointed and commissioned under this paragraph have the powers and authority of a police officer; and

(3) advise the Governor and the Legislature on Consumer Protection legislation or administrative rules.

(c) The words “appropriate civil actions” in this section includes consumer cases filed in court on behalf of individual consumers as well as groups or classes of consumers. The Directors shall publish regulations on representations of clients to avoid competition with private attorneys.

.

A.S.C.A. § 27.0403.
Assurance of voluntary compliance.
In lieu of instituting or continuing an investigation or civil action, the Director may accept written assurance of voluntary compliance from the persons suspected of violation. The Director may obtain the agreement of the affected consumers where possible. The fact that a person has entered into an assurance of voluntary compliance may not be considered an admission of violation, nor may the written assurance constitute prima facie evidence of a violation. The assurance may include a stipulation for reimbursement to some or all consumers who have been damaged by an alleged unlawful act or practice and payment of costs of investigation. An assurance of voluntary compliance may become public record. A consumer does not have to accept restitution under the stipulation, but his stipulated agreement to the assurance or his acceptance and full performance of restitution bars recovery of other damages in an action on account of the same acts or practices by him against the person or persons making restitution.

.

A.S.C.A. § 27.0404.
Penalties for unlicensed acts.
(a) A person who furnishes commodities or services to consumers for which a license is required from a department or a regulatory agency or a Board or Commission, without a license, commits a civil infraction and is subject to the penalty provided in subsection (b) of this section.

(b) A person who commits a civil infraction described in subsection (a) shall be fined not less than $500 nor more than $2,500 for each unlawful act or practice, which fine is to be collected in a civil suit initiated by the Bureau of Consumer Protection.

(c) A contract for the furnishing of commodities by unlicensed persons is void. A person may recover the price or reasonable value of commodities furnished under a void contract.

.

A.S.C.A. § 27.0405.
Restitution.
In a civil action initiated by the Director to collect civil penalties or to enjoin an unlawful act or practice, the court may grant restitution to a person who sustained damages as a result of the unlawful act and practice if the aggrieved consumer has filed a complaint with the Office of Consumer Protection prior to the initiation of the action. A person in whose favor restitution is ordered may not choose to accept restitution, but his acceptance and full performance of restitution bars recovery by him of other damages in a separate action for the same act or practice, against the person making restitution.

.

A.S.C.A. § 27.0406.
Cumulative remedies or penalties.
Unless otherwise expressly provided, the remedies or penalties provided by this chapter are cumulative to each other and to the remedies or penalties available under all other laws of the Territory.

.

A.S.C.A. § 27.0701.
Warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, with respect to any goods or services which are the subject of or are intended to become the subject of a consumer transaction, and which are purchased primarily for personal, family, or household use and not for commercial or business use, no merchant shall orally or by written language:

(1) exclude, modify or otherwise attempt to limit any warranty, express or implied, including the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose; or

(2) exclude, modify or attempt to limit any remedy provided by law, including the measure of damages available, for a breach of warranty, express or implied. Any such exclusions, modifications or attempted limitations shall be void.

(b) Notwithstanding any language in subsection (a), any merchant may offer warranty coverage greater than the warranty provided by law or the manufacturer, or, offer original warranty coverage where none is provided by the manufacturer.

.

A.S.C.A. § 27.0703.
Statement of applicable warranties-Penalty.

(a) Automobile dealers and retailers of major appliances worth over $150 at the time of sale must inform the consumer purchaser at the time of sale whether any warranties apply to the automobile or major appliance. If any warranty applies to such automobile or major appliance, the automobile dealer or retailer of major appliances must supply such warranty in writing to the consumer purchaser at the time of sale. If no warranty is applicable then that fact must be conspicuously displayed on the sales invoice.

(b) Any allowable conditions imposed upon a consumer purchaser in order to make a claim under an applicable warranty must be stated in a conspicuous manner on the same form on which the warranty is provided.

(c) The Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection shall enforce this law in any court of appropriate jurisdiction by seeking civil penalties or injunctive relief and any additional relief for the complainant under chapter 04, Title 27.

(d) Civil penalties for violation of this section shall as follows:

(1) first offense, $50;

(2) second offense, $100;

(3) third or more offenses, not less than $350 nor more than $500 for each offense.

.

A.S.C.A. § 27.0704.
Consumer remedies.

(a) No automobile dealer or retailer of major appliances covered under this chapter may refuse to accept the return of either defective goods or specially ordered goods which do not conform to the special order when such goods are covered by any warranty. An automobile dealer or retailer of major appliances may choose to repair or replace the goods free of costs for labor and material in lieu of refunding cash to the consumer purchaser, but only if such repairs or replacement can be achieved in a reasonably short period of time.

(b) If replacement or repair cannot be achieved in a reasonably short period of time then the consumer purchaser shall be entitled to a cash refund. In the case of defective goods, the cash refund shall equal the value the goods would have had at the time of the return if such goods had no such defect. In the case of specially ordered goods which do not conform to the special order, the cash refund shall equal the price, including freight, insurance and duties, paid by the consumer purchaser.

.

A.S.C.A. § 27.0801.
Parts supply required.
(a) Retail home entertainment dealers shall maintain an adequate service department to ser-vice the products they sell as well as an adequate supply of parts.

(b) For purposes of this section, “retail home entertainment dealer” means a person, firm, corporation, or copartnership engaged in selling radios, TVs, phonograph stereo combinations, pianos, organs, brass band instruments, stringed instruments, or any musical instrument.

(c) For purposes of this section, “adequate” means that level of service capability and parts supply that will reasonably service the consumers and customers of that dealer

.

A.S.C.A. § 27.0902.
Definitions.

(a) “State of emergency” means a natural or manmade disaster or emergency resulting from an earthquake, hurricane, flood, riot, fire, storm, tsunami, or civil disturbance as declared by the President of the United States or the Governor of American Samoa.

(b) “Consumer food item” means any article that is used or intended for use for food, drink, confection, or condiment by a person or animal.

(c) “Repair or reconstruction services” means services performed by any person for repairs to residential or commercial property of any type that is damaged as a result of a disaster.

(d) “Emergency supplies” includes, but is not limited to, water, flashlights, radios, batteries, candles, blankets, soaps, diapers, temporary shelters, tape, toiletries, plywood, nails, and hammers.

(e) “Medical supplies” includes, but is not limited to, prescription and nonprescription medications, bandages, gauze, isopropyl alcohol, and antibacterial products.

(f) “Building materials” means lumber, construction tools, windows, and anything else used in the building or rebuilding of property.

(g) “Gasoline” means any fuel used to power a motor vehicle or power tool.

(h) “Housing” means any rental housing or dwelling units leased on a month-to-month term.

(i) “Gross disparity” means a significant difference in price currently charged prior to the declaration of state of emergency and the price being charged during the declaration period.

(j) “Unconscionable prices” means an increase in the price of commodities which is greater in amount when compared to the most recent consumer price index prepared by the American Samoa Government, Department of Commerce.

(k) “Competent authority” means the Governor of American Samoa, the President of the United States, or other individual otherwise by the law with the power to declare a state of emergency.

.

A.S.C.A. § 27.0903.
Prohibited unfair pricing practices.

(a) Upon a declaration of a state of emergency, and for a period of thirty (30) days following that declaration, it is unlawful for any person, contractor, business, or other entity to sell, rent or offer to sell or rent any consumer food items or goods, emergency supplies, medical supplies, building materials, housing, gasoline, or any other goods or services necessary in an emergency response for a price of more than ten percent (10%) above the price charged by that person, contractor, business or other entity for those goods or services immediately prior to the declaration of a state of emergency. However, a greater price increase shall not be unlawful if that person can prove that the increase in price was directly attributable to additional costs imposed on it by the supplier of the goods, or directly attributable to additional costs for labor or materials used to provide the services, provided that in those situations where the increase in price is attributable to additional costs imposed by the supplier or additional costs of providing the goods or services during the state of emergency, the price represents no more than ten percent (10%) above the total of the cost to the seller plus the markup customarily applied by the seller for that good or service in the usual course of business immediately prior to the onset of the state of emergency.

(b) Prior to the occurrence and upon a declaration of a state of emergency, and for a period of one hundred eighty (180) days following that declaration, it is unlawful for any person, contractor, business, or other entity to sell or offer to sell any repair or reconstruction services or any other services used in emergency cleanup for a price of more than ten percent (10%) above the price charged by that person, contractor, business or other entity for those goods or services immediately prior to the declaration of a state of emergency. However, a greater price increase shall not be unlawful if that person can prove that the increase in price was directly attributable to additional costs imposed on it by the supplier of the goods, or directly attributable to additional costs for labor or materials used to provide the services, provided that in those situations where the increase in price is attributable to additional costs imposed by the supplier or additional costs of providing the good or service during the state of emergency, the price represents no more that ten percent (10%) above the total of the cost to the seller plus the markup customarily applied by the seller for that good or service in the usual course of business immediately prior to the onset of the state of emergency.

(c) the amount charged represents a gross disparity between the price of the commodity or rental or lease of any dwelling unit that is the subject of the offer or transaction and the average price at which that commodity or dwelling unit was rented, leased, sold or offered for rent or sale in the usual course of business during this period immediately prior to a declaration of a state of emergency, and the increase in the amount charged is not attributable to additional costs incurred in connection with the rental or sale of the commodity or rental or lease of any dwelling unit, or national or international market trends.

(d) The provisions of this section may be extended for additional thirty (30) day periods by the Governor of American Samoa if deemed necessary to protect the lives, property, or welfare of the citizens.

(e) Any business offering an item for sale at a reduced price immediately prior to the declaration of a state of emergency may use the price at which they usually sell the item to calculate the price pursuant to subsection (a) or (b).


.

A.S.C.A. 27.0904.
Penalties and remedies.
"(a) In addition to all other remedies provided by the American Samoa Code Annotated, the Court shall impose a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 per violation with an aggregate total not to exceed $25,000 for any 24-hour period against any person, contractor, business or other entity who violates the provisions of this chapter. An additional suspension of license after the second offense shall be imposed. All penalties assessed and collected shall be transferred to the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Department of Legal Affairs to further consumer protection efforts.

(b) Any person who is found to have violated this chapter shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor for each violation.

(c) The remedies and penalties provided by this section are cumulative to each other and the remedies and penalties available under all other laws of American Samoa.

(d) It is a violation of this chapter if a person offers for sale or rent any commodity at an unconscionable price during this period immediately preceding and during the effectiveness of a declaration of a state of emergency declared by a competent authority.

(e) Nothing in this chapter creates a private cause of action in favor of any person damaged by a violation of this chapter."

.

A.S.C.A. § 27.0905.
Enforcement.
Any violation of this chapter may be enforced by the Office of the Attorney General.

.

A.S.C.A. § 27.1501.
Limit on sale price of goods.
No merchant, trader, storekeeper or other person may sell goods to a Samoan on credit for more than the current cash selling price of like goods at the place where the credit transaction took place, but this section shall not prohibit a Samoan from agreeing in writing to pay interest of not more than 8% per year on overdue accounts growing out of credit transactions.

.

A.S.C.A. § 27.1510.
Validity of mortgage, bill of sale, etc.
No mortgage, agreement that creates or provides for a security interest, bill of sale, conditional sales contract, deed of trust or conveyance of personal property which is not accompanied by a permanent delivery thereof to the vendee is valid as to persons who do not have actual knowledge thereof unless all of the following conditions are met:

(1) it is in writing signed by the person to be bound and attested to by at least one witness;

(2) it is filed with the Territorial Registrar within 10 days after its execution;

(3) it truly states the consideration upon which it was based or the debt or liability which it was intended to secure, and contains a description of the land sold or mortgaged, or the security for the debt or liability that reasonably identifies the security, whether specific or not. The security may be described by its listing, category, type, quantity and/or location and may include property so described which is acquired after execution of the mortgage or agreement creating or providing for the security interest.

.

A.S.C.A. § 27.1530.
Contracts-Sufficiency of writing.
Except as otherwise provided in this section and 27.1531 and 27.1532, a contract for the sale of goods for the price of $500 or more is not enforceable by way of action or defense unless there is some writing sufficient to indicate that a contract for sale has been made between the parties and signed by the party against whom enforcement is sought or by his authorized agent or broker. A writing is not insufficient because it omits or incorrectly states a term agreed upon but the contract is not enforceable under this section beyond the quantity of goods shown in such writing.

.

A.S.C.A. § 27.1532.
Contracts-Enforceability.
A contract which does not satisfy the requirements of 27.1530 but which is valid in other respects is enforceable:

(1) if the goods are to be specially manufactured for the buyer and are not suitable for sale to others in the ordinary course of the seller’s business and the seller, before notice of repudiation is received and under circumstances which reasonably indicate that the goods are for the buyer has made either a substantial beginning of their manufacture or commitments for their procurement;

(2) if the party against whom enforcement is sought admits in his pleading, testimony or otherwise in court that a contract for sale was made, but the contract is not enforceable under this provision beyond the quantity of goods admitted; or

(3) with respect to goods for which payment has been made and accepted or which have been received and accepted.

.

A.S.C.A. § 28.1501.
Interest rate-Agreements signed and written-Charge for loans.
(a) Except as provided in this title, no person may charge more than 15 percent per year as interest on a debt or obligation, and no agreement to pay a rate of interest higher than 6 percent per year shall be enforceable unless the same is in writing and is signed by the party to be charged. The rate of interest when there is no written agreement with respect thereto shall be 6 percent per year, and such interest shall be presumed on overdue debts.

(b) Lending institutions are empowered to set, from time to time as the cost of money and the cost of lending operations warrant, a minimum charge for their loans where the normal interest is not equal to the average cost of making a loan. In no event may both a minimum charge and interest be collected.

(c) Banks that are authorized and licensed to conduct the business of banking in American Samoa are empowered to charge, contract for, and receive interest on loans at a rate up to 24% per year, provided that:

(1) The principal amount of the loan is $5,000.00 or less, and

(2) The principal amount of the loan and interest rate are disclosed in written agreement that is signed by the parties to be charged.

.

A.S.C.A. § 28.1502.
Small loans-Interest.
Any bank, savings and loan association, person, firm, corporation or government entity which has been approved by the Governor as a small loan agency may charge a fee of not more than $8 per $100 per year on loans, debts and obligations of not more than $8,000 with an allowable minimum charge to be fixed in an amount not to exceed a current schedule set by any lending institution under the standards prescribed in subsection (b) of 28.1501. Fees charged under this section are not to be levied in addition to the interest or minimum charge allowed under 28.1501. If any loan under this section is paid before its due date, the lender shall credit to the unpaid balance, or shall refund, unearned interest.

.

A.S.C.A. § 28.1505.
Open-end credit.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision to the contrary, the maximum rate of interest chargeable on open-end credit issued in American Samoa shall be determined by reference to the law of the creditor’s principal place of business.

(b) Open-end credit means credit extended by a creditor under a plan which: (1) The creditor reasonably contemplates repeated transactions,

(2) The creditor may impose a finance charge from time to time on an outstanding unpaid balance, and

(3) The amount of credit that may be extended during the term of the plan (up to any limit set by the creditor) is generally made available to the extent that any outstanding balance is repaid.

(c) Creditor means a person who extends credit that is subject to a finance charge.

(d) Person means a natural person or an organization, including a corporation, partnership, proprietorship, association, cooperative, estate, trust, or government unit.

.

A.S.C.A. § 28.1510.
Penalty for usury.
Any person who loans money or extends credit in any manner whatsoever and takes, receives, reserves, or assesses interest, fees, or minimum charges thereon at a rate higher than that allowed by law shall upon conviction be sentenced as for a class A misdemeanor; and in addition, shall forfeit to the debtor the full amount of the debt or obligation upon which the unlawful interest, fee, or minimum was charged.

.

A.S.C.A. § 28.1603.
Fees or charges on inactive or dormant savings or time deposit account.
During the 10 year period of inactivity or dormancy specified in section 28.1601(2) and until payment of funds to the Treasurer as provided in section 28.1608, it is unlawful for any Bank to assess, collect, or deduct any fee or charge from any savings or time deposit account because of that inactivity or dormancy, except for the cost of publication in accordance with section 28.1605.

.

A.S.C.A. § 31.0711.
Unlawful to employ uncertified tradesman.
It is unlawful for any person to willfully and knowingly employ another person as a tradesman unless the other person is certified as a tradesman under the provisions of this chapter.

.

A.S.C.A. § 31.0712.
Violation-Penalty.
(a) Any person who is convicted of any violation of this chapter, or any rule duly promulgated under this chapter, is guilty of a class C misdemeanor.

(b) Each day of violation of this chapter shall constitute a separate offense.