Buying on the Internet

Region: Ontario Answer # 351

Shopping on the Internet is an easy way to buy goods and services. You can use your credit card online and have products delivered to your door. New technologies have made it safer to use your credit card for Internet transactions. Consumers who buy goods over the Internet are protected by the same laws that protect all consumers. The most important of these laws is called the Sale of Goods Act.

Internet shopping and the Sale of Goods Act

The Sale of Goods Act protects people who buy goods, but not people who buy services. According to the Sale of Goods Act, any product you buy must be able to be used for the purpose that people use it for ordinarily. For example, if you buy a cellular telephone, you must be able to use it for making telephone calls. If it does not do what it is supposed to do, you should contact the vendor and request a refund. You should be aware that in non-consumer transactions, (selling to a business), the seller may be able to disclaim these types of implied warranties.

When you buy a product on the Internet, there are two particular issues that you should consider. First, Internet purchases of goods are usually based on pictures, and second, purchasers are often not familiar with the company they are purchasing from.

Buying something from a picture

You should always be cautious about buying something from a picture. Computer images can be easily changed or enhanced, and when you get your product, it may not be anything like what you saw on the screen. If the item is not like the picture and you are not satisfied with the product, you should contact the vendor and request a refund.

Know the company you are dealing with

You should also be careful about buying something from a company you are not familiar with. If they change their Internet address, it may be difficult for you to contact the company if there is a problem. If it is an international company and there is no local office, it may be difficult to contact the company or return the product if there is something wrong with it. The best way to avoid these problems is to know the company you are dealing with.

For more information about your rights as a consumer, refer to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

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