Do you think a merchant is making misleading advertising or giving false information? Here is what you need to know.

Advertisements that contain misleading information, or omit important facts, are illegal.

Examples of prohibited practices

For example, it is prohibited for an advertisement to:

  • use expressions such as "wholesaler,"auction sale," "liquidation, "factory returns," or "direct from the manufacturer." The use of those expressions is prohibited, unless the merchant can prove that they are true.
  • not indicate the total price of the vehicle;
  • use an illustration that does not accurately depict the vehicle whose price is advertised;
  • use the expression "cost price" or any other expression that would lead one to believe that the vehicle is sold at such a price, if it does not make reference to the price actually paid by the merchant to acquire the vehicle.
  • present information about the vehicle in an a manner that is unclear, illegible or incomprehensible. For example, this could mean using a font size that is too small to be read or using terms that limit the scope of an important piece of information in the message.

The vehicle sold must conform to the advertisement made about it. The merchant is bound by this advertising.

Availability of used vehicles

Only available used vehicles that are ready for sale can be advertised. The merchant must also indicate each vehicle's mileage in the advertising.

If there is a problem

If you find yourself in a situation in which these rules are not respected, you can contact the Office de la protection du consommateur.

Merchants advertising the price of a vehicle are required to advertise an "all-inclusive" price.

What is an "all-inclusive" price?

The "all-inclusive" price corresponds to the total amount you will need to pay to obtain the vehicle advertised. It cannot be raised, unless other products or services are added at your request.

This rule applies everywhere, in all types of advertising: newspapers or flyers, on billboards, on television, on the radio, on the Internet, and so forth.

If the advertised price is not the one invoiced to you, you are entitled to demand paying the advertised price.

Fees included in the price

The advertised price must, among other things, include administration and inspection costs. You cannot avoid paying these fees: they must therefore be included in the advertised price.

Fees excluded from the price

Merchants may exclude from the advertised price fees that you must pay but that will later be remitted to a public authority. This is the case for:

  • Quebec sales tax; (QST)
  • the goods and services tax (GST)
  •  the specific duty on new tires.

Composition of the advertised price

All the items that compose the advertised price must be indicated. However, the total price of the vehicle must be stated in a clearer manner than the individual items included in the price.

When financing is offered, credit fees are generally charged. Merchants are not obligated to include these fees in the advertised price, which is in fact the cash price of the vehicle.

Is a merchant advertising the terms of an automobile instalment sale contract (i.e. the merchant offers that you pay for an automobile, for a fee, in several payments)?

If the advertisement includes any of the following points, it must also mention all of the others:

  • an example of the total price of an automobile for which credit may be authorized;
  • the down payment charged at purchase, or an indication that no down payment is required;
  • a breakdown of the credit charges;
  • the total credit charges;
  • the number of instalments and the length of the instalment periods;
  • the amount of each instalment;
  • the consumer's total obligation.

Interest rates and credit rates

Any ad that makes reference to a credit rate must indicate that rate.

Any time a credit-related rate (e.g. an interest rate) is indicated in an advertisement, the credit rate calculated in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act must be disclosed just as prominently. An advertisement may, however, only indicate the credit rate.

The interest rate is an indication, expressed as an annual percentage, of the interest paid on the amount financed. 

The credit rate calculated in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act is an indication, expressed as an annual percentage, of the total of all credit fees charged by virtue of the credit contract, including: interest, administration fees, etc. It is the true cost of the credit.

Merchants who make false or misleading declarations are committing an illegal act. They are required to provide all the information that could influence your decision to purchase a vehicle.

False information

A merchant cannot, for example, lead you to believe that

  • the vehicle warranty covers more than what it actually does;
  • the vehicle is more powerful or better performing than it really is.

Hidden information

Although this situation is rare, merchants have been known to conceal information. If you were aware of this particular information, it could dissuade you from purchasing the vehicle that interests you. The following information might be hidden from you:

  • the fact that the vehicle was damaged;
  • an anomaly or a major mechanical problem;
  • an odometer that was rolled back. Altering an odometer is a major offense. In common parlance, you may hear about odometers that were rolled back, altered, tampered with, and so forth. Although it is difficult to determine the extent of this phenomenon, past legal proceedings have shown that some vehicles had travelled more kilometers than what their odometers showed.

Recourse

If you are a victim of false or misleading declarations, you have recourse against the merchant. See In case of problems for further details on this subject.

If the merchant has hidden the fact that your vehicle's odometer has been rolled back, you should also report this information to:

Reporting a merchant

If you find yourself in a situation in which these rules are not respected, you can contact the Office de la protection du consommateur to report them.

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Last update : November 1, 2021

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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.