Canadian Consumer Law: Get To Know Your Rights
Canadian consumer law is the branch that pertains to the supply of goods and services for personal use and consumption by individuals. It is different from commercial law, which deals with the sale of goods from one business to another business, with the intention of making a profit. Consumer law deals with the sale of goods to an individual with the intention of use or consumption.
Consumer Law is relatively new and has only been around for approximately 30 years. Its development directly reflects the changes in the market after WWII took place.
It can be attributed to the rise of consumerism, as a result of mass production, to the transition from an agrarian lifestyle to an urban lifestyle that took place in North America, to the addition of new and complex products, to the affluent society, and to the steady growth in income in the past thirty years, as well as credit.
With the rise in production of goods, it was important to make sure consumers were protected by law. This prompted lawmakers to establish the Consumer Protection Act, to ensure that both individuals and businesses would be protected.
Consumers should make sure they know the rights that are extended to them under the Consumer Protection Act, so, if they feel wronged by a business, they can file an official complaint with the ministry.
When a consumer signs a new contract in certain circumstances, they are allowed what is called a cooling-off period. This is a timeframe in which they can change their mind if they decide to. Examples of these situations include:
- You have a cooling-off period whenever a direct agreement is made following the purchase of a product from a door-to-door salesperson.
- You are allowed a cooling-off period if you enter into a personal development contract that involved you paying in advance for a gym membership or fitness club.
- Under the Payday Loans Act, you are allowed a cooling-off period following the acceptance of a payday loan.
- According to the Condominium Act, you are allowed a cooling-off period following the purchase of a newly built condo.
With the cooling-off period, you can cancel your contract at anytime, for any reason, as long as it is within the specified timeframe. This also includes any financing plans that you set up.
Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is illegal for any business or individual to provide you with false information about themselves, the services they offer, or the products they are selling. Examples of misrepresentation would include:
- Claiming that they were licensed, accredited or certified to provide a service when they are not;
- Displaying fake safety certification, accreditation or any other credentials;
- Stating to a consumer that a product or good is a certain grade, style, model or quality when it is not;
- Promising that they will deliver a product or service when they know they are not capable of doing so;
- Recommending that you purchase unnecessary repairs or replacements.
If you have done business with a company or individual that have misrepresented themselves, you are within your right to withdraw from the contract anytime within a year.