In an advertisement, various strategies may be used to promote a product or service. However, the advertisement must not be ambiguous. It must be clear, legible and understandable. 

These rules apply to all types of advertising: in a newspaper or flyer, on a sign, on television, on the radio, online, etc. They apply to merchants, manufacturers and advertisers. 

Misleading or false information

Any advertisement that contains false or misleading information, or that conceals an important fact, is illegal. Here are examples of prohibited practices:

Prohibited Practices Examples

Concealing an important fact

Failing to mention that a vehicle has sustained significant damage

Distorting the meaning of any information

Only making reference to a positive aspect of a test performed on a product where the test was negative overall

Promoting a product based on scientifically false data or analyses

Claiming that a product was effective for 98% of consumers who have tried it, based on the fact that only 2% of the consumers have returned it

Assuming a false status or identity

Falsely claiming to be a psychologist or physician

Displaying an illustration that does not accurately depict the product or service for which the price is advertised

Using a photo of vehicle that is better equipped and that costs more than the one whose price is advertised

Using the expression “cost price” when it does not represent the actual price paid by the merchant

Advertising a mattress on liquidation sale at a cost price of $400 when the merchant really paid $350 for it

Any goods or services sold must comply with the advertisements made about them.

Other prohibited practices

In an advertisement, merchants are also prohibited from:

  • failing to provide their identity or specifying that they are a merchant;
  • claiming they hold a permit from the Office de la protection du consommateur to lead one to believe that the Office recognizes or approves of their activities;
  • providing only a post office box as contact information. They must provide their complete address.

Making false statements and promises

Merchants are not allowed to make false statements or promises about any goods or services.

Merchants are also prohibited from using a pretext to try to make a sale. For example, a salesperson who offers you to inspect your heat pump with a hidden motive to sell you a new one is acting illegally. Here is another example: merchants are also prohibited from conducting a survey on air quality for the purpose of selling you an air purifier or a dehumidifier.

Businesses are responsible for any statements made by their representatives, whether verbal or written.

Unsolicited goods or services

Merchants are prohibited from invoicing you for any goods or services you did not request. For example: a merchant goes to your home to apply a treatment to your lawn while you are away, without your having requested this service. You are not required to pay the invoice the merchant leaves in your mailbox.

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.

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Last update : November 13, 2020

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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.