Are you shopping for an electronic device? The following tips may be of interest to you before you make a purchase.

Before giving a down payment on electronic devices, know what you are agreeing to. Always inquire about the merchant’s layaway policy. Layaway and cancellation policies vary from one merchant to the next.

Amount requested for a down payment

If a merchant is requesting a down payment, you should try to negotiate the lowest possible amount. A low down payment means a smaller loss if the store closes its doors or goes bankrupt before you take delivery of the item you purchased.

Cancelling a layaway

Want to cancel a layaway? Know that merchants cannot set in advance the penalty they will charge if you cancel an agreement (for example, in a contract, in their layaway policy, in a statement, etc.) However, in certain circumstances, they could ask for a sum of money to redress damages actually incurred because of the cancellation.

Before buying an electronic device, inquire about the merchant’s exchange and refund policies. The law does not require merchants to refund, exchange or credit an electronic device that you no longer want.

Merchants are free to decide on the terms of their exchange and refund policy. However, once they do adopt one, they are required to comply with its rules.

Precautions to take at purchase time

At the time of purchase, make sure the merchant’s exchange and refund policy is printed on the receipt. If that is not the case, ask the merchant to write the policy down for you.

Always keep a copy of the receipt as well as the warranty information documents to make a potential return easier. You should also make a copy of the invoice, as the original written content could fade over time.

Before buying an extended warranty, be aware that any electronic device bought from a merchant is covered by warranties provided by law.

Legal warranties entitle you to expect that the electronic device you are buying:

  • will serve the purpose for which it was bought;
  • will have a reasonable lifetime, given the price paid, the contract, and the conditions of use;
  • will not contain hidden defects – that is, important defects that were present before the sale, that were not mentioned to you and that you could not have noticed, even if you were observant;
  • will conform to the description written in the contract and the advertising, and to the merchant’s statements.

You also benefit from the same conditions on a second-hand electronic device purchased from a merchant.

Information provided by the merchant in store

Before offering an extended warranty, a merchant must:

  • inform you of the existence and contents of some legal warranties by reading the following text: “The Act provides a warranty on the goods you purchase or lease: they must be usable for normal use for a reasonable length of time”. The merchant must also provide a written notice that should only include mandatory information;
  • verbally inform you of the existence and duration of the warranty offered for free by the manufacturer, if applicable. Upon your request, the merchant must also verbally inform you how you can access all of the warranty’s conditions.

Merchants have 2 ways to go about pricing: tag each item individually or show an item’s price on its shelf. In the latter case, merchants must abide by the Price Accuracy Policy.

Prices shown on the shelves

The Price Accuracy Policy allows customers to be compensated in case of a pricing error at the register. If the price of the electronic device you are buying is higher at the register than what was shown on the shelf, the merchant must:

  • give you the item for free if the item costs less than $10;
  • sell you the item at the shelf price, minus $10, if the item costs more than $10.

Prices shown on individual items

If the merchant decides to individually tag each article, they don’t have to abide by the Price Accuracy Policy. However, they must sell items at the labelled price, never at a higher price. For example, an electronic device tagged at $30 must be sold at that price, even if the register shows $40.

What if a single item shows two different prices? The lower price prevails.

Always check the receipt before leaving the store

To avoid having to go back to the store to recover a few dollars, make sure you always check the receipt before leaving the store. However, if you only notice an error when you’re back home, you can go back to the store. It’s never too late to assert your rights.

The section Prices indicated in the store provides all the information about the pricing of items, the display of prices, and the Price Accuracy Policy.

To avoid the inconvenience of delivery delays, the Office de la protection du consommateur advises you to have the following details written down on your invoice:

  • The precise delivery date. Do not accept notes such as “rush,” “urgent,” “priority,” “as soon as possible,” or “in 4 to 6 weeks”;
  • A clause that allows you to cancel the purchase and to receive a refund for the down payment if the delivery is late.

Delivery scheduled 2 months after purchase

If an electronic device is to be delivered more than 2 months after you have purchased it:

  • check whether the merchant has a trust account;
  • if you need to give a down payment, write down a check payable to “[name of the merchant] in trust.”

A trust account will protect you in case the merchant goes bankrupt or closes its doors. The amounts deposited in such an account could serve as damages if something happens. It is wise to take these precautions, but they do not guarantee that you will be refunded your down payment.

Last update : June 27, 2023

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The information contained on this page is presented in simple terms to make it easier to understand. It does not replace the texts of the laws and regulations.