I canceled my window order, but where’s my refund?

Question: I am at my wits’ end and need your help. I purchased and moved into a “not so new home” this summer. I am a senior on Social Security disability and on a limited income, but I had a little money left over from the sale of my small home in another city, so I decided to put it into more energy efficient windows that would help conserve energy.

I contacted Window World in Dallas for a free estimate. I was duly impressed and ordered the windows I could afford. I gave the salesman $1,301 for the deposit, and was to pay the additional half of $1,301 upon installation in about six weeks. The window contract indicated that I could cancel the contract anytime until midnight of the following third day. The contract was signed on August 6, which gave me until midnight on August 9.

At about 8 p.m. on Aug. 9, I received a call that there was a death in the family and was asked to help with funeral expenses. Of course, I agreed. I immediately called my sales person to cancel my order. I left a voicemail for him. I was within my allowed cancellation time frame. I also tried calling the office location, but they were closed.

I got a call back from my salesman the following day and was told that since the cancellation was not received until the 10th that I was not able to cancel the contract. I reminded him that the contract stated I could cancel up until midnight of the third day.

He argued that the cancellation had to “be received” by midnight the third day. I argued that it was received by his cell phone in time or he wouldn’t be responding to my call and it was not my fault that he did not answer his phone or check his email at 8 p.m.

Since I can’t afford the payment of the additional $1,301, Window World is sitting on my deposit. Window World offered to let me make payments and then have the windows put in, which now I don’t need because I have to sell the house for financial reasons.

I have tried and tried to be patient and communicate with them. Emails have bounced back as undeliverable, I have sent postal mail and left messages. Can you help? — Barbara Jamison, Garland, Texas.

Answer: My condolences on your loss and I’m sorry to hear about your recent financial hardships. If Window World gave you until midnight on Aug. 9 to cancel your order, and you made every effort to let it know you didn’t want to go through with your order for new windows, then this should have been an open-and-shut case.

It wasn’t. A simple email to the Window World location should have been enough to persuade the company to refund your check, but your messages were bounced back to you. It’s possible that you typed in the wrong address (that happens, even to me), but it’s also possible that the company just didn’t want to hear from you. When you combine that with the fact that many of your calls and messages were met with silence, I have to assume that the company just wanted to keep your money.

I always marvel at how friendly a company can be when it’s taking your money during the sales process, but how it will stop talking to you when you ask for a refund that’s rightfully yours.

Your case raises an interesting question: When is an order actually canceled? Is a phone message left a few hours before the deadline enough, or should it be done during business hours? I tend to lean toward your definition: If they’re giving you until midnight, then they should make themselves available until midnight. (At the very least, they should allow you to send an email that has a timestamp from yesterday, to verify you made the request.)

If the Window World location wasn’t willing to help you, I would have escalated this to the corporate office. Finding the right executive is pretty easy. All email addresses at Window World are first initial + lastname@windowworld.com. Dana Deem, the company’s president, can be reached at ddeem@windowworld.com or 336-667-2100.

I contacted the Window World location in your area on your behalf, and it refunded your deposit.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I couldn’t vote because both are correct answers. The best course is of course during business hours so that you can get a confirmation of the cancellation. However, if the contract permits cancellation until midnight then the OP is 110% in the right. If the store is closed at midnight then a voice mail cancellation is sufficient unless the contract specifies otherwise.

    The salesperson’s argument has no merit and I wouldn’t buy a stick of gum from these shysters.

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    Glad that it worked out in the end. Window World absolutely did the wrong thing by dragging this out. If you have until midnight, that means any logged, time stamped form of communication should do. If the salesman saw the smoke signals, consider the order cancelled!

  • backprop

    I’m not making this argument necessarily, but since midnight is the first hour of the day (11:59:59pm being the last) then midnight of the third day is really the morning of the 9th.

    Contract written on the 6th.
    Midnight (morning of the 7th) = midnight of the first day
    Midnight (morning of the 8th) = midnight of the second day
    Midnight (morning of the 9th) = midnight of the third day, deadline
    8p.m. on he 9th = call made

    Otherwise, I’m glad it worked out; however, there is no need to play the Ace of “senior citizen on disability with a fixed income” card in the first paragraph. I go right into defensive mode when I see that, because it hints that the actual question is not strong enough to stand on its own merits. What’s good for a senior citizen on disability with a fixed income should be good for anyone.

  • Kairi

    Actually both are not correct – it’s a legal issue. Reg Z is quite clear – you have until midnight to cancel the transaction. As the other poster said, if you send smoke signals (and have the evidence) that will work. The law doesn’t state how to cancel – just that you have the right. The voice mail would have been sufficient

  • TonyA_says

    Edited for corrections and clarification.

    I believe you. The FTC website says you have three days to cancel. So that includes the day he signed the order or the 6th. The third day {after the sale} would have been the {CORRECTION} 9th of August.

    The guide actually says this…
    The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) Cooling-Off Rule gives you three days to cancel purchases of $25 or more. Under the Cooling-Off Rule, your right to cancel for a full refund extends until midnight of the third business day after the sale.

    The first business day AFTER the sale is the 7th, second the 8th, and third the 9th. So it is the midnight of the 9th.

    Backprop, if computed this way, it is a bit more than three days or 72 hours.

    Also in the How to Cancel section, it does not mention emails or phone calls. I do not have a clue why since many sales are done online and by phone.

  • TonyA_says

    I understand that Reg Z is by the Federal Reserve and does not cover window sales. The Federal Reserve is a PRIVATE institution and can govern their private member banks.

  • TonyA_says

    Neither of the poll options are correct.

    According to the Texas Attorney General:

    Under the law, the salesperson must tell you about your cancellation rights at the time of sale. The salesperson also must give you two copies of a cancellation form, one to keep and one to send, and a copy of your contract or receipt. The contract or receipt should be dated, show the name and address of the seller, and explain your right to cancel. If the salesperson provided you with the right forms, to cancel the sale you may simply sign the one titled “notice of cancellation,” date it, and mail it back to the seller. To obtain a full refund, you must do this before midnight of the third business day after the sale. Keep a copy of the form. If the salesperson did not provide a cancellation form, you may still cancel your contract. Because the seller violated the law by not providing the form, you have extra time. But remember, you must cancel in writing. Be sure to keep a copy of the contract and your letter notifying the seller of the cancellation. It is a good idea to get this done as soon as possible.
    1) it can be done till MIDNIGHT of the third business day AFTER the sale.
    2) it must be in WRITING
    3) the sales person must have given you a cancellation form and informed you about your cancellation rights.

  • EdB

    Actually, the count of business days does not start until the next business day. So Midnight (morning of the 7th) is the START of the first business day after the contract has been signed. So Midnight (morning of the 8th) is the end of the first day, start of the second. So she did cancel within the time period stated.

  • backprop

    Right – midnight of the 9th is literally the instant the 9th starts, in other words, one second after 11:59:59pm on the 8th.

    Now if the FTC says you have at least three FULL days to cancel, then yes, you’d have to say it expires at the stroke of midnight of the 10th, in other words, one second after 11:59:59 on the 9th.

    Edit to reference the reply to Ed Boston, above, with the FTC verbiage.

  • backprop

    “Actually, the count of business days does not start until the next business day”

    If you make that presumption, I would agree. But is that true?

    Here is the FTC’s verbiage:

    To cancel a sale, sign and date one copy of the cancellation form. Mail it to the address given for cancellation, making sure the envelope is post-marked before midnight of the third business day after the contract date. (Saturday is considered a business day; Sundays and federal holidays are not.)

    Now, I’m truly not trying to be pedantic (just 100% accurate) but the “day after the contract date” in the scenario is the 7th. Midnight of the 7th is the START of the 7th, not the end.

    So midnight of the day after the contract date is literally the moment the clock strikes midnight, less than 24 hours after the contract was signed on the 6th. That’s midnight of the day after. Then there’s the second day (8th) and the third day (9th). As soon as it hit that morning of the 9th, 12:00:00am, the time is up, according to my OCD interpretation.

  • Michael__K

    The OP is from Texas and it looks like Texas has a recission law which probably applied here and which provides for the same “cooling off period” as Reg Z:


  • EdB

    Don’t you just love how “Midnight” as a time causes all sorts of confusion? *grin* My wife had a job where her shift started at midnight. So the schedule said “Midnight, Oct 26”. So did that mean she should show up at 23:59:59 on the 25th or 26th? I would say the first but the company said the second.

    Because of the ambiguity of it, in contracts, from what has been explained to me in the past, goes to the party that did not write it. So if the OP argued the second case, because of the ambiguity of the term midnight, I think the courts would lean to her favor.

  • TonyA_says

    Sorry but I am really confused now. Isn’t midnight 12 o’clock at night?
    So midnight of 09AUG is 24:00:00 of 09AUG, right?
    And, Aug 10 starts at 00:00:01.

  • EdB

    In all my dealings with “3 day” type rules, the day the transaction takes place is never counted. I like the two day delivery as an example. You drop the package off on the 1st and they say it will be delivered in 2 business days. If you count the day you ship, then it would have to be there on the 2nd. However, they will give you the 3rd as the delivery date.

  • Daddydo

    I love your thorough answer. Done! As an Accredited member of the Better Business Bureau, I would also advise that contacting the BBB is a very good method of resolving this type of situation. I would further recommend that Barbara still contact them and report the Dallas Window World company as treating her with a sleazy attitude, so that others that check, be aware.

  • TonyA_says

    I got confused, too, so I counted the day of the sale itself. But when I read the rule further, it specifically says AFTER the sale. So it does NOT include the day of the sale.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    Good answer. Thank you.

  • Dutchess

    In this case, it clearly says before midnight therefore by virtue of the fact that they don’t have 24 hour telephone support a voicemail should be sufficient. I think the business felt they could just bully an old woman into not canceling.

    I also do think it’s silly to forgo new windows on your house to pay someone else’s funeral expenses. Seriously, you’re on a fixed income. Pay to make your house more insulated in the winter so you’re comfortable and not for your dead loved one is more comfortable in the ground.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    And very short-sighted on their part. The OP liked their windows and would probably have bought them at a future date as soon as she’d saved up for them again. But no way they’ll get her business again after this.

  • Richard Gordon

    If it’s not in writing it never happened.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Midnight is not an ambiguous time. However, poor drafting can cause problems.

  • backprop

    There’s no 24:00:00. It’s 00:00:00. And from a purely geeky standpoint, it’s 12:00 in the morning. 11:59:59 at night, 12:00:00 in the morning. Aug 10 starts at 00:00:00 :)

  • Carver Clark Farrow


    I do not have a clue why since many sales are done online and by phone.
    Law is often several years behind technology.

  • TonyA_says

    Here’s Reg Z (based on The Truth in Lending Act):

    If I am not mistaken, Reg Z in not a law but TILA is a law. Reg Z is a compliance guide that helps financial institutions comply with the law.

    That said, the Texas Constitution also has cooling off period requirements for HELOC loans.

    None of the above have anything to do with the FTC cooling-off rule 16 CFR 429. This is what applies to the window sales if done off-premises.

    The right to cancel in Texas is explained here: https://www.oag.state.tx.us/consumer/door_to_door.shtml

  • EdB

    The last part of the story the OP stated she also had to sell the house because her financial situation changed and that’s why the payment plan offered by the store would not work for her.

  • TonyA_says

    You see I am really confused )):)):))

    Since you understand this better than me, what exactly is 12 o’clock midnight of August 9?

    If a flight departs at midnight 9AUG and I have to be at the airport one hour earlier, do I have to be at the airport 11PM on 9AUG or some other date and time?

    PS. No wonder airlines don’t [usually] use midnight for departure time :-)

  • TonyA_says

    Excellent Point! And now we know that their business practices are not exactly that great, then we might shy away from them, too.

  • jim6555

    Could it be that the law has not caught up to 21st century business practices. An up-to-date law should include giving notice by email.

  • TonyA_says

    More importantly Thanks to You she got her money back!

  • backprop

    That’s the crux of the question – midnight is the first moment of the new day. It is not the last moment of the old day.

    So in your scenario where the flight is at midnight 9AUG, you’d technically have to be there at 11PM on 8AUG.

  • EdB

    You are correct that it is not ambiguous. It’s people’s concept of the meaning that is. The wording should have read midnight on the 4th business day to give them 3 full days to cancel.

  • Michael__K

    My point was that they both define a cooling off period that lasts until midnight of the third business day after the transaction.

  • TonyA_says

    I just had a bout of real bad vertigo and this midnight thing is giving me another :-(

    Here is what NIST (our official timekeeper) has to say:

    Are noon and midnight 12 a.m. or 12 p.m.?

    This is perhaps the trickiest time question of
    them all. The best answer is that the terms 12 a.m.
    and 12 p.m. cause confusion and should not be used.

    To illustrate this, consider that “a.m.” and
    “p.m.” are abbreviations for “ante meridiem” and “post
    meridiem.” They mean “before noon” and “after noon,”
    respectively. Of course, noon is neither before nor
    after noon; it is simply noon. Therefore, neither the
    “a.m.” nor “p.m.” designation is correct. On the
    other hand, midnight is both 12 hours before noon and
    12 hours after noon. Therefore, either 12 a.m. or 12 p.m.
    could work as a designation for midnight, but both would be

    To get around the problem, the terms 12 noon
    and 12 midnight should be used instead of 12 a.m. and
    12 p.m. For example, a bank might be open on Saturday from
    8 a.m. to noon. Or, a grocery store might be open daily
    until midnight. If you are making schedules, times such as
    12:01 a.m. (one minute after midnight), or 11:59 p.m. (one
    minute before midnight) also can eliminate ambiguity. This
    method is used by the railroads and airlines.

    No wonder most airlines will NOT schedule a departure at midnight. The ones I have seen are 1205AM. And guess what, I have had passengers who actually missed those flights (show up at noon) because they found them confusing.

  • TonyA_says

    Re: I also do think it’s silly to forgo new windows on your house to pay someone else’s funeral expenses.

    This must be a cultural or personal thing. I know of many people who will do the same thing or more (perhaps go into more debt) to help a dear friend and relative bury a loved one. It is one way of helping the survivors cope.

  • bodega3

    Is that midnight where the store is located or midnight where corporate headquarters is located? I have encounterd this issue on location and time zone.

  • BillCCC

    That is why when I was in the military we never did anything at midnight. It was either 2359 or 0001.

  • backprop

    Oh no! Another twist :) But good point. The FTC says “postmark” so I’m thinking it’s the time at the originating address.

  • backprop

    Agreed! Don’t use em!

  • TonyA_says

    You know if she went to the store (local branch) and bought it there, the 3-day cooling-off period does not protect her. If she called or bought online (completely without any other contact), the rule does not apply. The rule was made to reduce the cheating done by door-to-door sales people. The law most probably intended LOCAL time.

    OFF TOPIC: This has the same implications to Agency ticket voids and 24 hour cancellation of airline issued tickets. They are both very confusing.

  • Joe M

    Sigh… I wish there was no 24:00:00… but according to SAP there is.
    So, the way it *should* work is Aug 5th 24:00:00 and Aug 6th 00:00:00
    are exactly the same time. As I programmer, I can attest that this is
    rarely how things actually work. And usually Aug 5th 24:00:00 is
    changed to Aug 5th 00:00:00 because they only look at the time and not
    the date.

  • bodega3

    Oh yes to the ticketing restricitions. Some are 24 hours, which they go by the time the PNR is ended (complete booking made) and others let it up up to midnight past the 24 hour cut off.

  • Dutchess

    Thanks, I missed that but it does appear this happened after she tried to cancel.

  • fshaff

    I retired from the airline communications field (also did a stint in the Navy), and we always used military time (actually Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), but now know as Universal Time Coordinated (UTC), so it was the same time anywhere in the world. I can attest that when the clocks read 23:59:59, the next tick indicated 00:00:00, not 24:00:00. Pilots, dispatchers, air traffic controllers DO NOT say 2400, they say 0000.

  • EdB

    “To get around the problem, the terms 12 noon
    and 12 midnight should be used instead of 12 a.m. and
    12 p.m.”

    Okay. That clears up if it is day or night. But is 12 midnight the end of day 1 or the start of day 2? If I say 12 midnight October 31, am I early or late for trick or treating? :)

    How’s that vertigo now Tony?

  • TonyA_says

    Ok here is something we all can agree with. The IRS tax deadline is MIDNIGHT of April 15. So I drive over to my post office at night on the 15TH and I am OK. So Midnight means the last second of that day before the calendar changes.

    I think my sons now have a reason to ignore me when I tell them I want them home before midnight.

  • EdB

    That’s the problem with how most people think of midnight. They think of it as 23:59:59 (end of day 1) when it really is 00:00:00 (start of day 2). Or 00:00:00 as the end of day 1 and 00:00:01 as the start of day 2.

    There was a similar problem with when the new millennium started. It was generally accepted as 2000 when in fact it was 2001. :)

  • http://www.balivillaholidays.com/ Bali Villa Holidays

    I find it a common problem with most establishment actually. It’s like you’re the one in debt of favor that you don’t need to claim a refund for a refused order.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    One point. We’d have to look at the contract. If the contract merely restates the mandated cooling off period then you are correct. However, the contract may provide contractual rights to cancel with additional rights not provided by the statute..

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    For sales of goods that would be a really unethical and potentially unconscionable contractual term. The buyer is certainly not thinking about corporate headquarters when he or she purchases something from a brick and mortar store and the store owners know that.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    This is the strangest conversation.
    12am is midnight. It’s the beginning of the calendar day. That’s why is 0:00:00 in military time
    12pm is noon or 12:00:00
    It is unfortunate that these terms are confusing are they are not ambiguous.

  • Miami510

    Bravo for you Christopher.

  • Joe Farrell

    I hate to say this – but what does being on SSI and elderly have to do with this? So because of that you are entitled to some special consideration? So the implication is that the rest of us can be scammed but not you? The rest of us can be treated poorly but because we’re moderately healthy and employed we don’t get to invoke the sob story? Barbara – the only reason you told us that was to garner sympathy for yourself and your claim . . . . I’m not a heartless person and feel for your loss but how is any of it remotely relevant to contract rights?

    You are bound by the terms of hte contract, just like they are. If you canceled inside the window in the contract that they must refund your money. Why did you not use a credit card? Why would you use a check? If you had used a credit card then you could have easily and simply charged it back and been done with it. You would not have to fight to get your money back because the bank would do it for you.

    As for the legalities here- how do you prove that you called them to cancel after business hours. If you leave a message and they deny it or delete it- how do you prove it? While technically the law is the law and you have until midnight how do you prove it? Something only happens if it is in writing and you can prove it. So try to use media that allows you to prove what you did – you see – even sending an email is not proof since you can show you sent it but you cannot prove that they received it by midnight – given spam blockers and all of the other means with which email receipt can be delayed or prevented. . . .

  • Paul Randall

    I don’t understand why companies do this. If they publish time limits on cancellations then they should honour them and efficiently process any refunds due. By dragging issues like this out they are only doing damage to the brand in the longer term.