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811 Consumer contracts There are several types of contracts which consumers may enter into. Some examples are: agreeing to buy a vacuum cleaner or other product through a door to door salesperson, entering into a membership agreement with a fitness club, or purchasing a computer from an electronics store. All these are consumer contracts.
A number of provincial laws apply to these kinds of contracts. The Consumer Protection Act sets out rules about information that must be contained in certain consumer contracts in order for them to be valid. A contract that involves payments to be made later must contain the seller's name and address, a description of the goods or services that are being sold, the amount of the purchase, and details of any installment payments to be made. If this information is not on the contract, the contract is not valid and cannot be enforced by the seller.
For certain consumer contracts, the law also provides a "cooling off" period. This applies to door to door sales, and to contracts for fitness club or modelling agency services. If you have signed such a contract, the Pre-paid Services Act or the Consumer Protection Act give you up to 2 days for door to door sales over $50, and 5 days for club or agency service contracts to cancel the contract in writing. You must make sure that the seller receives the cancellation within the time period. If you have cancelled in this way, any money you have paid to the seller must be returned to you.
Another law which protects consumers is the Sale of Goods Act, which contains rules setting out conditions and warranties which apply to all sales of goods to consumers. One condition is that the goods you receive must match the description of the goods you bought. For example, the Sale of Goods Act applies to a consumer's purchase of furniture, where the items delivered by the store are quite different from the ones presented in the showroom when the sale was made. You can refuse to accept such goods, and demand that your money be refunded to you. If you have already accepted goods which turn out to be seriously defective, you may be entitled to receive a portion of your money back.
There are also rules under the Business Protection Act which protect consumers who have been the victims of misrepresentations or unfair business practices by sellers. To find out how to make a complaint about unfair business practices, refer to other sections of Legal Line . For more information about consumer contracts, contact the Ministry of Consumer & Business Services listed on the Legal Line Guide or website, or in the Blue pages of your telephone book.