Have you ever experienced buyer’s remorse, or entered an agreement that wasn’t all that you bargained for? It’s times like these when you wish you knew more about your consumer rights. To start, here are five important points about consumer rights in Ontario.
Each province has its own laws on consumer rights.
Section 92(13) of the Constitution Act, 1867 gives the provinces and territories the power to make laws in relation to property and civil rights. This encompasses a very broad slate of rights, including real estate, workplace standards, and consumer protection.
What this means is that the consumer rights vary province-to-province. For example, consumers in Ontario do not necessarily have the same rights as those in Quebec or Alberta. When you’re looking to educate yourself on your consumer rights, it’s essential to make sure you’re looking at the laws that apply in your province.
All Consumer Transactions are Subject to the Consumer Protection Act.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2002 applies to all consumer transactions that take place with the consumer located in Ontario.
A consumer is defined as an individual who is acting for personal, family, or household purposes. Consumer agreements are transactions between a supplier and a consumer. The Act does not apply to purchases, contracts, and other transactions made through, or on behalf of, a business.
In short, if you’re buying something for yourself or your family, the supplier has to abide by the CPA.
It’s Illegal to Give Consumers False Information About a Product or Service.
The CPA sets out a number of unfair practices that are illegal in Ontario, including:
- Claiming that goods or services have sponsorship, uses, benefits or qualities they do not have
- Misrepresenting the standard, quality, grade, style or model of goods
- Selling used or refurbished goods as used
- Misrepresenting how pre-owned goods were used by the previous owner(s)
- Advising a consumer that a service, part, replacement or repair is necessary when it is not
You Have the Right to Cancel Certain Contracts.
In most circumstances, you are bound to a contract even if you regret signing it. However, the Consumer Protection Act gives consumers protections in certain contracts, such as door-to-door sales, gym memberships, and time share agreements. This gives consumers a “cooling off” period during which they can cancel an agreement without facing consequences.
For door-to-door sales, the cooling off period is 20 days for water heater contracts and 10 days for others. Personal development contracts, like gym memberships and karate lessons, can be cancelled within 10 days of signing. The 10-day deadline also applies to agreements to buy a newly-built condo, timeshare agreements, and payday loans.
The Statute of Limitations on a Consumer Rights Claim is Two Years.
If you wish to sue a supplier for violating your consumer rights, you generally must do so within two years of finding out about the violation. This limitation is set by the Limitations Act, 2002. While it isn’t impossible to succeed in a lawsuit past this point, it becomes more difficult.
Of course, there are exceptions, and you should always talk to a lawyer or paralegal if you think you have a claim.