Consumer Protection

You have rights as a consumer, rights that come from laws governing various kinds of transactions. Knowing your rights can help you to avoid problems in the first place, save you money and hassle, or help you to get compensation.

The Basics:

  • Read contracts carefully and completely before signing. If you have questions or concerns, don't sign until you are satisfied with answers from the seller.
  • Be cautious about ads promising guaranteed jobs, guaranteed loans, credit repair, debt consolidation or similar claims. Many of these offers are only a way to get you to send money in advance in exchange for little or no service.
  • Don't be pressured into buying. If you're not sure, take some time to think about it.
  • Protect your personal information by only revealing what is absolutely necessary. People who obtain very basic personal information about you can drain your bank accounts, or charge things to your credit cards. They could also bombard you with unwanted solicitations and marketing.
  • Every province and territory gives you a specified number of days (a cooling-off period) during which you can cancel a contract you make with a door-to-door salesperson for any reason.
  • When shopping online, know the following before you commit to paying: who you are dealing with; exactly what you are buying; what you are agreeing to; what you are paying; how the payment system is secured; and, what information you are giving to the vendor, and why.
  • Ask about the seller's refund or exchange policy before you buy. While no legal obligation exists for businesses to accept returned items unless they are defective, it is generally accepted that offering refunds or exchanges is a critical part of developing and maintaining good customer relations.
  • Always check the warranty on a product before you buy it. A warranty is a written guarantee to the purchaser of an article, promising to replace or repair the article, if necessary, within a specified period.

Helpful Web Sites:

  • The Canadian Consumer Handbook is an extensive guide to many consumer protection issues, from avoiding fraud to knowing how to buy automobiles, cell phone service and package trips abroad.
  • Canada's Office of Consumer Affairs provides basic information for consumers so they can make informed decisions on topics such as debt, digital television, cellphones and identity theft.
  • If you think that you have been cheated in some way, learn how you can take action at Canada's Office of Consumer Affairs Web page, Complaint Courier.
  • Industry Canada's On-line Shopping Assistant will help you asses quickly whether you are getting the information you need before making an on-line purchase.
  • Be safe when doing business on the Net with tips from the Consumer Measures Committee.
  • Learn more about Sustainable Consumption, including the meaning of consumer eco-labels from Canada's Office of Consumer Affairs.
  • Tired of telemarketers calling you on the phone? Register at the National Do Not Call List to stop it.
  • Stop the delivery of most advertising mail to your house through the Canadian Marketing Association's Do Not Contact Service.
  • Shop around for cell phone service that fits your needs with Cell Phone Choices for Canadians: A Guide from Canada's Office of Consumer Affairs.