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§8.01 Retail Installment Sales—Unruh Act

Lesson 8:
Credit Cards

The Unruh Act [CC §§1801 et seq] applies to retail sales of goods and services under written retail installment contracts and retail installment accounts entered into in California. The Act should be liberally construed to protect consumers. [King v Central Bank (1977) 18 C3d 840, 846.]

Click on each term for the definition:



    Retail installment sale: The sale of goods or the furnishing of consumer services by a retail seller to a retail buyer for a deferred payment price, payable in installments. [CC §1802.5; see CC §§1802.3, 1802.4.]
  • Retail installment sale:


    Retail installment contract: A contract for a retail installment sale between a buyer and a seller that provides for repayment in installments and payment of a finance charge, or which provides for payment in more than four installments. [CC §1802.6.]

    Example: Contract for the weekly delivery of flowers to a restaurant.
  • Retail installment contract:


    Retail installment account: An account between a buyer and a retail seller under which (1) the buyer promises to pay, in installments, and outstanding balance incurred in retail installment sales, and (2) a finance charge is expressed as a percent of the periodic balances that accrue. [CC §1802.7.]

    Department store charge accounts, sometimes called “revolving accounts.”
  • Retail installment account:



    Goods: Tangible chattels bought primarily for personal, family, or household use. [CC §1802.1.] This is determined by the intent of the parties at the time the contract was entered into. [Cessna Finance v Pivo (1976) 58 CA3d 281, 288–289.]
  • Goods:


    Services: Work, labor, and services, including services furnished in connection with the sale or repair of goods or the repair of motor vehicles and the improvement of real property (e.g., home improvement contracts). The term excludes services for commercial or business use. [CC §1802.2.]
  • Services:


The following transactions are excluded from coverage under the Unruh Act:

  • Motor vehicles: Conditional sales of motor vehicles. [CC §1802.1.]
  • Deferred billing sales: Sales under which a consumer is extended credit subject to an agreement to pay the full price when billed. [See Seibert v Sears Roebuck & Co. (1975) 45 CA3d 1, 9.]
  • Construction and sale of real estate: Any contract providing for (a) the construction or sale of an entire residence or mobile home, or all or part of a structure designed for commercial or industrial occupancy, whether or not a parcel of real property is included; and (b) the sale of a lot or parcel of real property. [CC §1801.4.]
  • Sale of certain goods: the sale of certain aircraft and vessels. [CC §1801.4.]
  • Premium finance agreements: certain premium finance agreements entered into by an industrial loan company. [CC §1801.7.]
  • Loans by “supervised financial organizations”: certain loans for the purpose of buying goods and services, e.g., loans from consumer finance lenders. [CC §1801.6(b)–(c).]
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