Archived — Shopping for Satisfaction (2)

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Did you know...

...Every province and territory gives you at least 10 days (a cooling-off period) during which you can cancel a contract that you made with a door-to-door salesperson?

To find out more about the cooling-off period where you live, contact your provincial or territorial office of consumer affairs.

Quebec residents may consult the Office de la protection du consommateur (www.opc.gouv.qc.ca) (French only).

You may also find information for different jurisdictions through the following link:

Shopping On-Line

Consumers can now buy on-line with the click of the mouse, but what can you do after you buy if problems arise?

Picture this: You're surfing the Net and you've found the perfect outfit at a rock-bottom price. You decide to go ahead and make the purchase on-line using your credit card. Six weeks later, you haven't received the item as promised and the money has been charged to your account — what now?

First, check the Web site to find out if the seller has a complaint-handling procedure in place. If so, use it. If not, contact the seller, explain the problem and tell them what you want them to do about it.

If the seller doesn't respond, call your local consumer protection office for more information.

Hints for Shopping On-Line

Remember that the basic rules for smart shopping at the mall or that quaint little shop downtown will serve you well when shopping on-line. Once you've fallen in love with that item and decided to add it to your on-line shopping cart, here are some key things to keep in mind:

  • Know who you're dealing with. Get all of the basics such as the seller's name, business address and phone number.
  • Know what you're paying for. Make sure you've specified the colour and size you want, as well as warranty details (if any). All applicable taxes, shipping and handling charges, duty and currency conversions should be factored in when calculating the total price.
  • Always read the fine print on your contract. The terms and conditions of the agreement and any refund or exchange policies should be clearly stated. Print or save all contracts and receipts for your protection. Try to avoid purchases where there's no contract detailing your rights and responsibilities as well as those of the business.
  • Be savvy about purchasing from businesses internationally. Shipping and handling charges and currency exchange rates can add up quickly. You may also face high shipping costs on returned items and it may be difficult to pursue legal remedies if a problem arises.
  • You should know where, how and to whom you might direct your complaints. Ensure that appropriate complaint-handling procedures are in place and are clearly stated on the Web site.
  • Play the waiting game. It's a good idea to wait until you've received your goods or service before making any payments.
  • Make sure your credit card number and personal financial information are being sent to a secure and protected site. Responsible businesses usually advertise this fact. Look for one or both of these clues: an icon, often a lock at the bottom of the screen, should appear in a locked position; and an s indicates the site is secure when it appears in the Web address prefix (https://).
  • Know what information you're giving and why. A privacy policy committed to protecting your personal information should be posted on the Web site. The danger in releasing this information is that people who obtain sufficient personal information about you can charge things to your credit cards or telephone. They can also bombard you with unwanted solicitations. In worst-case scenarios, they can snatch your identity.