Canadian Consumer Handbook (www.consumerhandbook.ca)
Note: The following content was extracted from the online version of the Canadian Consumer Handbook (www.consumerhandbook.ca) on Feburary 6, 2012.
The Consumer Handbook is intended to help you become a better-informed and more confident consumer. It offers information on a wide range of topics such as online shopping, contracts, housing and home renovations, identity theft, collection agencies, and much more, to help you build your buying skills.
Knowing what’s on offer in today’s marketplace and whether it suits your needs –in other words being a well informed consumer - is key to protecting yourself. Critically examine product and service offerings before purchasing to make sure there are no unexpected or negative implications. Always remember – if it seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Along with consumer tips, the Handbook includes a directory of government and non-government contacts useful to consumers.
The Handbook was created and is updated by the Consumer Measures Committee. This Committee is a joint federal/provincial/territorial committee which provides a forum for national cooperation to improve the marketplace for Canadian consumers, through the harmonization of laws, regulations and practices and through actions to raise public awareness.
The Office of Consumer Affairs at Industry Canada, as Secretariat for the Consumer Measures Committee, is responsible for maintaining the Canadian Consumer Handbook.
Table of Contents (Topics)
Advance Fee Scams
Apparel and Textile Care
Buying Goods and Services
Consumers and the Environment
Debit Card Fraud
Door to Door Sales
Energy and Utilities
Landlord and Tenant Problems
Multi-level Marketing and Pyramid Selling Schemes
Refund and Exchange
Rent to Own
Unfair or Deceptive Business Practices
1. Advance Fee Scams
Be cautious about advertisements promising guaranteed jobs, guaranteed loans, credit repair, debt consolidation or similar claims. In many cases, you will be asked to send money in advance to a company but will receive little or nothing in return.
There have been a number of cases where consumers have being contacted via email and through the mail by bogus retailers attempting to fraudulently obtain credit card information and other personal data. More information on common scams can be found on the Fraud Prevention section of Competition Bureau’s website.
Consumers should be aware of the following:
Be cautious when responding to advertisements, particularly those that use 1-900 telephone numbers. You can be charged large amounts for calls to 1-900 numbers.
Be careful about giving out any of your personal information, including your social insurance number, credit card numbers and bank account numbers. Fraudulent businesses could use this information to make unauthorized charges to your credit card or to withdraw money from your bank account. In the case of your social insurance number, while there are no laws preventing businesses from asking for it, you are only required to give it out for a very few specific reasons, such as for tax purposes. Go to the website of the Federal Privacy Commissioner for more information.
Before you make any payment, ask the business to send you a contract and other information stating the terms of the service and whether you may cancel the service and get a refund.
Ask how long the firm has been in business and, if required, whether it is licensed in your municipality, province or territory. Review all contracts carefully. If you are unsure about a contract, take it to a lawyer or trusted advisor for his or her opinion before you sign.
Contact your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office or the Better Business Bureau to find out about legislation governing business practices where you live.
When you suspect that advertising is fraudulent, contact the local police, your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office or the Competition Bureau.
You can also learn about consumer scams and find advice on how to deal with them on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website. Contact your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office or the Better Business Bureau to find out about legislation governing business practices where you live.
Contacts For Advance Fee Scams
Competition Bureau Canada
50 Victoria Street Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0C9 Telephone: 819-997-4282 Toll Free: 1-800-348-5358 Phone (TTY): 1-800-642-3844 Fax: 819-997-0324 Website: www.competitionbureau.gc.ca
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
RCMP Public Affairs and Communications Services
Headquarters Building 1200 Vanier Parkway
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R2 Telephone: 613-993-7267 Fax: 613-993-0260 Website: www.rcmp.gc.ca
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
112 Kent Street Place de Ville Tower B 3rd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1H3 Telephone: 613-995-8210 Toll Free: 1-800-282-1376 Phone (TTY): 613-992-9190 Fax: 613-947-6850 Website: www.priv.gc.ca
Provincial and Territorial Consumer Affairs Offices
Alberta Service Alberta, Consumer Contact Centre
3rd Floor Commerce Place 10155-102 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4G8 Telephone: 780-427-4088 Toll Free: 1-877-427-4088 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.servicealberta.ca
British Columbia Consumer Protection BC
#307-3450 Uptown Blvd PO Box 9244
Victoria, British Columbia V8W 9J2 Telephone: 604-320-1667 Toll Free: 1-888-564-9963 Fax: 250-920-7181 Email: email@example.com Website: www.consumerprotectionbc.ca
Manitoba Consumer Protection Office, Manitoba Family Services and Consumer Affairs
302-258 Portage Avenue Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 0B6 Telephone: 204-945-3800 Toll Free: 1-800-782-0067 Fax: 204-945-0728
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.manitoba.ca/fs/cca/cpo
New Brunswick Department of Justice and Consumer Affairs
Kings Place (King Tower) 440 King Street
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5H8 Telephone: 506-453-2659 Fax: 506-444-4494 Email: email@example.com Website: www.gnb.ca/0062/rentalsman/index-e.asp
Newfoundland and Labrador Service NL
PO Box 8700 St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador A1B 4J6 Telephone: 709-729-4834 Toll Free: 1-877-968-2600 Fax: 709-729-6998 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.gs.gov.nl.ca/index.html
Northwest Territories Consumer Affairs, Department of Municipal and Community Affairs
5201-50th Avenue, Suite 600 PO Box 1320
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories X1A 3S9 Telephone: 867-873-7125 Fax: 867-873-0309 Email: email@example.com Website: www.maca.gov.nt.ca/operations/consumer_affairs/index.html
Nova Scotia Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, Public Enquiries
Mail Room, 8 South Maritime Centre 1505 Barrington Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3K5 Telephone: 902-424-5200 Toll Free: 1-800-670-4357 Fax: 902-424-0720 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/access/individuals/consumer-awareness.asp
Nunavut Consumer Affairs, Department of Community and Government Services
267 Qaiqtuq Building
P.O. Box 440
Baker Lake, Nunavut X0C 0A0 Telephone: 867-793-3303 Toll Free: 1-866-223-8139 Fax: 867-793-3321 Email: Laupaluktuq@gov.nu.ca Website: www.gov.nu.ca/english/
Ontario Consumer Protection Branch, Ministry of Consumer Services
5775 Yonge Street, Suite 1500 Toronto, Ontario M7A 2E5 Telephone: 416-326-8800 Toll Free: 1-800-889-9768 Phone (TTY): 416-229-6086 Phone (TTY) 2: 1-877-666-6545 Fax: 416-326-8665 Email: email@example.com Website: www.ontario.ca/consumerprotection
Prince Edward Island Consumer Services, Office of the Attorney General
Shaw Building, 4th Floor 95 Rochford Street PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 7N8 Telephone: 902-368-4580 Telephone: 902-368-4550 Toll Free: 1-800-658-1799 Fax: 902-368-5283 Website: www.gov.pe.ca/jps/index.php3?number=1002799&lang=E
Quebec Office de la protection du consommateur
400 Jean-Lesage Boulevard, Suite 450 Québec, Quebec G1K 8W4 Telephone: 418-643-1484 Toll Free: 1-888-672-2556 Fax: 418-528-0976 Website: www.opc.gouv.qc.ca
Saskatchewan Consumer Protection Branch, Ministry of Justice and Attorney General
1919 Saskatchewan Drive, Suite 500 Regina, Saskatchewan S4P 4H2 Telephone: 306-787-5550 Toll Free: 1-888-374-4636 Fax: 306-787-9779 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.justice.gov.sk.ca/cpb
Yukon Consumer Services & Infrastructure Development, Department of Community Services
Andrew Philipson Law Centre 2130 Second Avenue, 3rd Floor PO Box 2703 (C-5)
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 2C6 Telephone: 867-667-5111 Toll Free: 1-800-661-0408 ext. 5111 Fax: 867-667-3609 Email: email@example.com Website: www.community.gov.yk.ca/consumer/index.html
Better Business Bureaus
Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus
2 St. Clair Avenue East Suite 800
Toronto, Ontario M4T 2T5 Telephone: 416-644-4936 Fax: 416-644-4945 Website: www.bbb.org/canada
Better Business Bureau of Central and Northern Alberta
888 Capital Place 9707-110 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2L9 Telephone: 780-482-2341 Toll Free: 1-800-232-7298 Fax: 780-482-1150 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.edmonton.bbb.org
Better Business Bureau of Southern Alberta
Suite 350 7330 Fisher Street SE
Calgary, Alberta T2H 2H8 Telephone: 403-531-8784 Fax: 403-640-2514
Email: email@example.com Website: calgary.bbb.org
Better Business Bureau of Mainland B.C.
Suite 404 788 Beatty Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 2M1 Telephone: 604-682-2711 Fax: 604-681-1544 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: mbc.bbb.org/
Better Business Bureau of Vancouver Island
220-1175 Cook Street Victoria, British Columbia V8V 4A1 Telephone: 250-386-6348 Toll Free: 1-877-826-4222 Fax: 250-386-2367 Email: email@example.com Website: vi.bbb.org
Better Business Bureau of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario
1030B Empress Street Winnipeg, Manitoba R3G 3H4 Telephone: 204-989-9010 Toll Free: 1-800-385-3074 Fax: 204-989-9016 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: manitoba.bbb.org
Better Business Bureau of the Maritime Provinces
Suite 805 1888 Brunswick Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3J8 Telephone: 902-422-6581 Fax: 902-429-6457 Email: email@example.com Website: www.bbbmp.ca
Better Business Bureau of Eastern, Northern Ontario and the Outaouais
505-700 Industrial Avenue Ottawa, Ontario K1G 0Y9 Telephone: 613-237-4856 Toll Free: 1-877-859-8566 Fax: 613-237-4878
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: ottawa.bbb.org
Better Business Bureau of Mid-western and Central Ontario
354 Charles Street East Kitchener, Ontario N2G 4L5 Telephone: 519-579-3080 Toll Free: 1-800-459-8875 Fax: 519-570-0072 Email: email@example.com Website: mwco.bbb.org
Better Business Bureau of Mid-western and Central ontario
1 Eva Road Toronto, Ontario M9C 4Z5 Telephone: 416-621-9184
Better Business Bureau of Western Ontario
Suite 308 200 Queens Avenue PO Box 2153
London, Ontario N6A 4E3 Telephone: 519-673-3222 Toll Free: 1-877-283-9222 Fax: 519-673-5966 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: london.bbb.org
Better Business Bureau of Saskatchewan
980 Albert Street Regina, Saskatchewan S4R 2P7 Telephone: 306-352-7601 Toll Free: 1-888-352-7601 Fax: 306-565-6236 Email: email@example.com Website: sask.bbb.org
Better Business Bureau of Mainland B.C. - B.C. Interior
Toll Free: 1-888-803-1222 Fax: 604-681-1544 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.interior.bbbvan.org
Better Business Bureau of the Maritime Provinces - Yarmouth Office
Telephone: 902-742-2432 Fax: 902-742-1248
Better Business Bureau of Mid-western and Central Ontario - Business Office
1 Eva Road Toronto, Ontario M9C 4Z5 Telephone: 416-621-9184
Better Business Bureau of Windsor and Southwestern Ontario - Chatham Office