Advice on shopping online or over the phone
Know your rights when shopping online from local and international websites, and learn how to be safe when buying from telemarketers.
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Ask the right questions
- Can I get your name and employee number for my reference?
When you order a product that costs more than $50, the business must provide you with a contract by mail, or in a format that allows you to print a copy. This includes purchases made online, over the phone or by mail.
This contract must include all the details of the transaction, like payment terms, delivery details etc.
You have a right to get out of your contract under certain circumstances. For example, if the business uses unfair practices or the item is not delivered within 30 days of the delivery date in the contract, you can write to the business for a refund. If you paid by credit card, let your credit card provider know about your dispute to stop any remaining payments.
There are no requirements for businesses to provide returns or exchanges. So, ask about refunds or exchanges, or read and understand terms and conditions before you buy. Read more on returns, exchanges and warranties.
When you shop online
In Ontario, the Consumer Protection Act applies if either you or the internet seller is located in the province during the sale.
A few things to consider before you make a purchase over the internet:
- know who you’re dealing with. The website should provide basic information such as the seller’s name, business address, phone number, email etc.
- don’t risk buying when the details of the product such as size, materials, colour options, certificates or seals of approval, and warranties or guarantees are not clear
- check the reputation of the business by reading reviews of the website and the product.
- remember to look at the full cost of the item, which includes all applicable taxes, shipping and handling charges, and duties
- information on where, how and to whom you can send any complaints should be clearly available on the website
- print or save all contracts and receipts in case your item is not delivered or if you need to return it
- make sure that your credit card number and personal financial information are being sent over a secure and protected website and server
Buying from an international website
Make sure that:
- you know which currency the prices are displayed in and be aware of the exchange rate
- the product meets Canadian safety standards
- you check international shipping costs for purchase or returns
- the website has email or social media channels that offer customer service internationally
- refund and exchange policies, and warranties apply to customers internationally
Buying from a telemarketer
When buying over the phone, it’s important to record all the details of the transaction. Make a note of:
- the name and employee number (if available) of the salesperson
- the items you ordered
- date of purchase
- cost, including shipping and handing
- expected date of delivery
- the credit card you used and remember to check that your statement doesn’t have any unexpected fees
Avoid doing business with telemarketers who:
- offer to send a courier service for your money, or ask you to wire it
- ask to automatically withdraw money from your bank account
- ask for personal information, like your bank account number, social insurance number, etc.
- offer you a free prize, but want to charge handling and shipping fees for you to receive it