Consumer Contracts & Consumer Protection

There are various forms of consumer protection and contracts. This table lists many available to you.

Future Performance Contracts (General)
Definition A future performance contract is one where you don’t receive the goods or services or the payment isn’t made in full when you sign the contract
Exception Does not apply to contracts under $50
Statutory Requirements
  • Must include the name, address and telephone number of the seller
  • Describe the goods or services
  • Show other costs, including taxes and shipping charges, as well as the total price
  • Include a detailed statement of the terms of payment
  • Consumer must receive a copy of contract w/in 15 days of signing

Provide:

  • The supply date;
  • The date on which the supply of the goods or services will be complete;
  • If there are periodic payments under the contract, the amount of each of the periodic payments.
Remedies If contract is missing any of the statutory requirements – consumer has up to a year to cancel
Future Performance Contracts (Direct Sales)
Definition A direct sales contract is a contract signed at a place away from the seller’s permanent place of business, for example, at the buyer’s home…
Exception
  • Not if you invite the seller into your home more than 24 hours in advance
  • Direct sellers at agricultural shows or fairs, trade shows, craft shows, art shows or similar types of exhibits;
  • Temporary kiosks in shopping malls
  • Down-payment of more than $100 or 10% of the purchase price, whichever is less
  • Contract has to state that you have right to cancel at any time within the ten days.
Remedies
  • ‘Cooling off period – up to ten days to cancel the contract after receiving a copy of it.
  • You don’t receive the goods or services within 30 days, you have up to a year to cancel (provided you didn’t accept the goods later)
  • If supplier was under a direct sales prohibition order at the time contract was made you have up to a year to cancel (provided you didn’t accept the goods later)
  • One year cancellation if contract does not comply with the BPCPA
  • After cancellation – entitled to full refund w/in 15 days (must return the item if already received)
Future Performance Contracts (Continuing Services)
Definition Are future performance contracts that provide for the performance of services on a continuing basis (e.g. – gym membership, dance lessons).
Exception Only applies to the services listed
Statutory Requirements
  • Contract must not be for longer than 24 months unless they provide for the consumer renewing the contract in writing within one month of the expiry of the contract
  • Automatic renewal not permitted
  • Cooling off period – up to ten days to cancel the contract after receiving a copy of it.
  • You the services were not available within 30 days, you have up to a year to cancel (provided you didn’t use the services later)
  • Material change – either in the services that the seller was going to provide, or in the buyer’s personal circumstances (e.g. – medical reasons)
  • After cancellation – entitled to full refund w/in 15 days – if partway through contract – if due to change in services – pro rata refund; if change in your circumstances – pro rata refund
  • Less 30% to cover seller’s costs
  • If you don’t get your refund and sue in Small Claims, your entitled to ‘treble damages’ – 3X amount claimed.
Distance Sales Contract
Definition “A contract for the supply of goods or services between a supplier and a consumer that is not entered into in person and, with respect to goods, for which the consumer does not have the opportunity to inspect the goods that are the subject of the contract before the contract is entered into”

(purchasing goods by phone or mail order or over the Internet)

Exception BC law doesn’t apply to contracts made outside BC
Statutory Requirements There is information to be disclosed and then incorporated into a contract:

Disclosure: seller must disclose the following:

  • The seller’s name, address and telephone number
  • The seller’s email address, if available
  • A description of the goods or services
  • The total price and a detailed statement of the terms of payment
  • The currency under which amounts owing are payable
  • An explanation of how the goods will be shipped to you
  • The seller’s return or exchange policy, if any

Contract: seller must send you copy of the contract within 15 days after making it. An email copy is sufficient. Contract must contain the disclosure information above plus:

  • Your name as consumer
  • The date of the contract
Remedies Cancellation – you may cancel in the following circumstances:

  • If the seller doesn’t disclose the required information or the contract doesn’t contain it, you have up to seven days after receiving the contract to cancel it.
  • If you don’t get a copy of the contract within the 15 days after making it, as required, then you have up to 30 days to cancel it.
  • If you don’t receive what you ordered within 30 days of the supply date, you may cancel the contract any time before the goods or services are delivered.
  • If you don’t receive what you ordered within 30 days of the date of the contract, and a supply date wasn’t provided, you may cancel the contract anytime before the goods or services are delivered.

Refund – If you cancel because the seller didn’t disclose the required information or the contract doesn’t contain it, the seller must refund your money within 15 days after you give notice of cancellation.

Return of Goods – You have to return the unused goods within 15 days after getting them or within 15 days after giving notice of cancellation, whichever is later. The seller is responsible for the reasonable cost of returning the goods.

Distance Sales Contract
Definition “A contract for the supply of goods or services between a supplier and a consumer that is not entered into in person and, with respect to goods, for which the consumer does not have the opportunity to inspect the goods that are the subject of the contract before the contract is entered into”

(purchasing goods by phone or mail order or over the Internet)

Exception BC law doesn’t apply to contracts made outside BC
Statutory Requirements There is information to be disclosed and then incorporated into a contract:

Disclosure: seller must disclose the following:

  • The seller’s name, address and telephone number
  • The seller’s email address, if available
  • A description of the goods or services
  • The total price and a detailed statement of the terms of payment
  • The currency under which amounts owing are payable
  • An explanation of how the goods will be shipped to you
  • The seller’s return or exchange policy, if any

Contract: seller must send you copy of the contract within 15 days after making it. An email copy is sufficient. Contract must contain the disclosure information above plus:

  • Your name as consumer
  • The date of the contract
Remedies Cancellation – you may cancel in the following circumstances:

  • If the seller doesn’t disclose the required information or the contract doesn’t contain it, you have up to seven days after receiving the contract to cancel it.
  • If you don’t get a copy of the contract within the 15 days after making it, as required, then you have up to 30 days to cancel it.
  • If you don’t receive what you ordered within 30 days of the supply date, you may cancel the contract any time before the goods or services are delivered.
  • If you don’t receive what you ordered within 30 days of the date of the contract, and a supply date wasn’t provided, you may cancel the contract anytime before the goods or services are delivered.

Refund – If you cancel because the seller didn’t disclose the required information or the contract doesn’t contain it, the seller must refund your money within 15 days after you give notice of cancellation.

Return of Goods – You have to return the unused goods within 15 days after getting them or within 15 days after giving notice of cancellation, whichever is later. The seller is responsible for the reasonable cost of returning the goods.

Time Shares Contracts
Definition A form of time limited property ownership – e.g. – one week of time or use at a vacation resort

(purchasing goods by phone or mail order or over the Internet)

Exception BC law doesn’t apply to contracts made outside BC – e.g. – contract made in Florida for a time share in Florida
Statutory Requirements Contracts made in BC, for properties inside or outside BC, are deemed to have a cancellation clause.
Remedies
  • ‘Cooling off’ period of 7 days after signing
  • 10 day for other types of time-share interests not covered by Real Estate Development Marketing Act such as resorts or condos.
Credit Transactions
Definition Open credit – multiple advances/ and does not establish the total amount advanced under the agreement can be subject to an overall credit limit. Fixed credit is a credit arrangement that is not open credit and is normally based on a fixed initial advance and a predetermined payment schedule
Statutory Requirements
  • Written statement of disclosure
  • Certain requirements flow from the advertising of certain aspects of credit, such as interest-free periods, interest rates, and cost of credit
  • 30-day notice requirement for increasing credit card interest rates
  • Can cancel optional services
  • Where a credit card is lost or stolen, holder not liable for any charges incurred after notice in person or by registered mail has been given to the issuer of the card. For purchases made before notice is given, an individual is only liable for $50 or up to the credit limit remaining on the card, whichever is less (not when used in ATM and PIN was in wallet w/ card).
Telemarketing
Definition A supplier who initiates contact with a consumer by telephone or facsimile for the purpose of conducting a consumer transaction or requesting a donation
Statutory Requirements
  • Telemarketers must have a license for each location in which they conduct business
  • Records of each contract must be maintained for a period of two years after the contract is entered into

Prohibited Practices:

  • No contacting a consumer by either phone or fax on (a) statutory holidays, (b) outside of the hours of 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturdays or Sundays, and (c) outside of the hours of 9 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. on any other day.
  • No contacting a consumer more than once in 30 days for the same transaction.
  • No blocking their number on the call display of the consumer

Disclosure:

Before the consumer enters into a contract or commits to contributing money, a telemarketer acting on behalf of a supplier must disclose:

  • The name, business address and telephone number of the supplier, or
  • The purpose of the contribution if requesting a donation
Prepaid Purchase Cards
Definition A card, written certificate or other voucher with a monetary value that is issued or sold to a person in exchange for the future supply of goods or services. These include gift cards or gift certificates.
Statutory Requirements
  • Cannot have an expiry date
Unsolicited Goods
Definition Goods or services that are supplied to a consumer who did not request them
Exception
  • Goods or services supplied to a consumer who knew or ought to have known they were intended for delivery to another person;
  • Goods or services for which the supplier does not require payment; or
  • A prescribed supply of goods or services.
Remedies
  • A recipient of unsolicited goods has no legal obligation to the sender unless the recipient gives notice of an intention to accept them, or unless the recipient knew or ought to have known that the goods were intended for delivery to another person.
  • If however, a consumer does pay for unsolicited goods or services, the consumer may give to the supplier a demand, in writing, for a refund from the supplier within 2 years after the consumer
  • First received the goods or services if the consumer did not expressly acknowledge to the supplier in writing his or her intention to accept the goods or services