Here in Toronto, we are fortunate to be able to return products after purchasing them without any problems. Many people get confused about consumer rights and how the return process works in Canada. With this in mind, I decided to write a post with information and links about these rights, more specifically, how they apply to the province of Ontario (each province has its own rules); to learn about other provinces, click here.
The deadline for returning an item depends on the product and the store’s policy. In general, electronics have the shortest return period. Clothing and accessories can usually be returned within a 30-day period. To receive a refund, the product must be sealed and not used. It is important to have your receipt with you. If you do not have the receipt, you may be able to return the item but the amount you will receive will be based on the store’s policy. If the item was on sale, you will be refunded the lesser amount. A return may also be made if there is a price difference for the same product during a specific period of time. It is also important to note that final sale items cannot be exchanged after purchase.
Before buying a product, the government recommends consumers do their own research to gain an understanding of how return or exchange policies work for specific stores. The following are a few questions which can be asked to better understand the return process:
- Do you offer full or partial refunds/exchanges or store credits?
- If I return an item, what must I bring as proof of purchase – the receipt, sales tags, original packaging, etc.?
- Will there be additional fees when returning items?
- Are there any rules about returning seasonal items after a certain period?
- Can personal items such as jewelry or lingerie be returned?
- Can an item be returned if it was opened or used?
While each store is different, in general, the answers to these questions will be:
- Most stores offer a full refund provided the product has not been used or damaged.
- It is usually necessary to have the receipt and sales tag – original packaging is not always necessary.
- Generally, there are no additional fees.
- Seasonal items can be returned within a certain period of time but final sale items cannot.
- Most stores will not accept returns of undergarments (thank, God!); and
- This depends on the item.
Most items have manufacturer guarantees/warranties. Guarantees/warranties are assurances made by the store or manufacturer to repair or replace a damaged item after the exchange period expires (sometimes after the purchase date). It is important to note that guarantees can vary and, as in Brazil, many stores offer an extended warranty for an additional fee. An extended warranty offers the same agreement but for a longer period of time. Make sure that the cost of the extended warranty (the extra protection you get) is worth it. If the item is a low cost item, or if the extended warranty does not cover transportation or spare parts, it might be advantageous to not purchase an extended warranty as it may be cheaper to buy a new, more current model.
Before buying an item, make sure to read the terms and conditions on the warranty, especially with electronics. The government of Ontario wants you to check:
- The warranty period;
- The types of defects or damage covered by the warranty;
- Who is offering the warranty – the store or the manufacturer;
- How to replace or repair the product;
- Shipping and handling costs for replacement or repair of the product;
- Where to go if the item requires service;
- Whether the warranty includes the cost for parts and labor?
Click here to see more information about warranties.
Phone Contracts, Internet and Cable TV
The cancellation fees for telephone, internet and cable TV contracts depend on:
- Whether you have a fixed term or a contract without a term (month to month); and
- If you were given free or subsidized services (in the service contract – if you own the cell or received a discount to buy the mobile phone or device to the wireless).
If free items or subsidies didn’t apply to you when you signed your contract, the company may not charge a cancellation fee if you cancel your contract early. They can, however, charge a maximum of C $ 50 if a contract is cancelled prior to the stipulated time. Now, if you received a free item or discount, a cancellation fee may be charged. However, if you’ve had the contract for more than two years, the company cannot charge a cancellation fee. (Click here for more information)
The cooling-off period is the right of regret or reflection period where the costumer can cancel a signed contract. In Ontario, this is a 10-day period. Generally, the cooling-off period is for situations where the costumer signs a contract with a salesperson. More specifically, this applies to contracts resulting from telemarketing calls, email solicitations, door-to-door sales or exhibitions.
To cancel your contract, you must write a letter of cancellation to the company. In most cases, the company is given a 15-day period to refund your money. If the contract involves a product, the company is obligated to accept or pay to accept the item but this depends on the product and whether they want it returned.
In accordance with the Consumer Defense Code, when you order a product, it must be delivered within a 30-day period from the date of purchase; otherwise, you may request a refund or opt to keep the item. This is entirely up to you, the customer. You can’t be charged for a product or service you didn’t request; you may keep or throw away the item but it’s always best to be honest and return it – we all make mistakes.
I hope I helped you a little in understanding how all this works.