Common consumer questions

Returns and Refunds
Deposits
Warranties
"As Is" Purchases
Private Sales
Co-Signing
Contracts
More Information

Returns and Refunds

Don't count on always being able to return a product you've bought, whether it's from a store or the Internet. There is no law that says all sellers must take back an item. It may not matter that you don't like it, decided you can't afford it or found it cheaper somewhere else.

Every seller has a different return policy. Find out what the seller's policy is before you buy. The return policy is often stated on the back of the receipt and/or posted near the cash register; if not, get it in writing on the receipt. Note that these policies may change during promotions and for items that are on sale or are deemed to be "party wear."

Some stores will allow you to bring goods back but will set conditions. Examples are:

  • No returns or exchanges allowed on personal goods such as pierced earrings or swimsuits
  • Products may be exchanged but not returned for cash back
  • Goods must be returned within a set number of days
  • A credit note will be given instead of money returned
  • Goods must be unused and still have all tags, packaging, etc
  • You must have your sales receipt (although this is almost always required, some stores will refund or exchange without a receipt)
  • A restocking fee may be charged

Your province or territory may have legislation that gives you the right to return specific products or cancel specific contracts. Contact your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office for more information.

Deposits

A deposit is usually a lump sum of money required to reserve or hold a product or service. Whether it's a deposit on a vehicle, a hall rental, a grad outfit or for a photographer's service, be sure that you want the product or service. If you change your mind, you are not, by law, entitled to get your money back. Be sure to ask what the conditions are before you put down a deposit, and only put down the minimum amount required.

Warranties

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. All warranties are not the same — read them carefully to find out what is and isn't covered and for how long. Watch for phrases such as "lifetime warranty." Whose lifetime — yours, the product's or the company's? Also, where do you have to send the product for service? Will the item be replaced or repaired, and who makes that decision? Who is the warrantor — the manufacturer, the seller, or someone else? Do you have to register the warranty when you buy the item? Do you pay for shipping and handling when returning an item?

Some provincial and territorial legislation states that implied warranties apply to every sales contract (unless the seller and buyer both lawfully agree that the warranty does not apply). The implied warranty normally states that the goods be of "merchantable quality" and fit for the purpose for which they were sold. Misleading warranty promises could fall under your jurisdiction's legislation on misleading advertising.

For information on warranties, check with your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office for the provisions in your jurisdiction.

"As Is" Purchases

A product that's sold "as is" doesn't have a warranty. You are buying what you see, whatever its condition.

Used goods are generally sold "as is." Check these goods carefully to make sure that they will work and don't reuire potentially costly repairs. "As is" statements may cancel any implied warranty given by provincial or territorial legislation. However, if the salesperson knew the product was defective when he or she sold it to you, you may have some rights under your jurisdiction's consumer protection legislation.

Private Sales

A private sale is between individuals, not between a consumer and a business. Most consumer legislation does not cover private sales. If something goes wrong, your consumer affairs office may not be able to get involved. You will need to deal with the seller. If the seller isn't willing, your next step is court action. If the amount of money you want from the seller is under the limit established by your province or territory for small claims court, you could file a claim with it. Check with your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office for more information.

Co-Signing

If you co-sign a debt, such as a loan or a joint credit card, you are equally responsible for the whole debt. If the other person can't pay, the creditor will demand that you pay.

When creditors ask for a co-signer, they are looking for someone else to share the risk. The person you co-signed for may not have a credit history or may have a bad credit history.

As a co-signer, you will be responsible for paying the debt. If someone asks you to co-sign or if you get someone to co-sign for you, think carefully about how this could affect your financial situation as well as theirs.

Contracts

Contract law is a provincial and territorial responsibility. Your province or territory may have legislation that gives you more rights when you buy specific products or services. For example, all jurisdictions in Canada give consumers 10 days to cancel most contracts made with a door-to-door salesperson. To find out what other legislated rights you have, contact your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office.

More Information

Visit ConsumerInformation.ca

You may also consult your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office. A list of consumer affairs offices is available in the Canadian Consumer Handbook.