Laws under the jurisdiction of the Office de la protection du consommateur do not govern promotional contests or other draws of a similar nature.

To obtain information, file a complaint or report a situation in connection with a contest or draw, you must contact the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux.

Contest advertisements

The Office does, however, govern contest advertisements. It requires that organizers of promotional contests and draws clearly explain all of the terms of the contest or draw and the conditions to receive the prize. Here are examples of such terms and conditions:

  • a description of the prizes;
  • the territorial limits of the contest;
  • the contest rules.

Here is an example of an offence: a promotional contest advertises a grand prize of $50,000. The real prize is actually a lottery ticket to win a $50,000 grand prize. The prize description is misleading.

Fake contests

You have probably received a letter or an email informing you that you have won a prize or that your name has been selected for an exclusive offer. Several companies specialized in mail order sales use this ploy to attract new customers. These are not real contests, as you have to reach into your wallet to receive your prize.

These mailings often include the same elements:

  • your name and address;
  • the words “personal,” “urgent” or “confidential”;
  • a sample cheque;
  • a reply form and stamps to affix;
  • a description of the prizes, contest terms and conditions and various clauses (cancellation, fees, etc.).

Although not all of these mailings are fake contests, it is best to exercise caution.

Taking the right precautions

In many cases, you will be asked to send money or purchase a product or subscription to receive your prize or gift. Beware of these types of contests and offers. If the offer interests you, take the following precautions:

  • Read all of the documents you received, especially the fine print.
  • If you must purchase a product to receive your prize, compare the price with a similar product sold at a department store, including postage, handling and return shipping (this may become necessary).
  • If you cannot compare the price, order an inexpensive product to check the quality.
  • Read the exchange and refund conditions.
  • Make sure the merchant’s name and address appear on the documents. Be extra cautious if the address is a post office box.
  • Proceed with caution if the merchant is based outside Québec, as it will be more difficult for you to exercise your recourse options if there is a problem.
  • In the case of a subscription, pay attention to the conditions: length of the subscription, number of purchases required, possibility of cancellation, etc.

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Last update : November 29, 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.