Is a salesperson knocking on your door? The following tips may be of interest to you before you purchase a good or a service from an itinerant salesperson.

Does the itinerant merchant with whom you are doing business hold a permit from the Office de la protection du consommateur?

Such a permit is mandatory for any salesperson who solicits your business to sell you products or services elsewhere than at his or her place of business. These locations can be your home, a booth or stand on the street or in a shopping centre, etc. A permit is required for any sales of more than $100.

Why deal with a merchant who holds a permit

An itinerant merchant must provide a security deposit to the Office in order to be issued a permit. This security deposit is an amount of money that can be used to compensate you if the merchant fails to meet his or her obligations. For example, the Office would use this security deposit to compensate you if the merchant closes before the paid good or service is provided to you.

How to know if an itinerant merchant holds a permit

To make sure that a merchant holds a permit from the Office, use the Get information about a merchant tool. You can also ask the merchant for his or her permit number. The merchant is required to give you this number.

The permit does not vouch for the honesty of the salesperson, nor does it certify the quality of the products or services. It simply means that the merchant has provided a security deposit to the Office.

Situations in which the merchant is not required to hold a permit

A merchant who conducts a sale at your home, when you asked him or her to come to your home for that purpose, does not require a permit.

Furthermore, merchants do not require a permit if they are in any of the following situations:

  • They sell unfrozen food products or insurance.
  • They conduct sales:
    • at an agricultural or trade fair,
    • at a public market,
    • at an auction (sale to the highest bidder),
    • by mail, by telephone or online.

Home renovation contractors

A home renovation contractor comes to your home as you requested. The Regulation respecting the application of the Consumer Protection Act considers a home renovation contractor as an itinerant merchant when he or she comes to your home to sell, install or repair:

  • doors and windows;
  • thermal insulation;
  • roofing or exterior wall covering of a building.

You can consult the Choosing a contractor page. It will provide you with useful information.

Top of page

Often, itinerant salespeople show up at your home when you are not ready for them. They may try to make you believe that their offer is a real bargain and that it is a one-time opportunity.

Compare prices

Before entering into a contract with an itinerant merchant, shop around. Compare the quoted price with at least 2 other suppliers to make sure that the merchant’s offer is competitive.

Generally speaking, an offer that is made today should still be valid tomorrow. Is a merchant hurrying you into a contract to have work done based on the fact that he currently has other clients in your neighbourhood? Take the time to think over his offer. The Office de la protection du consommateur recommends that you refrain from signing a contract immediately.

Collect information

It is advisable to ask the representative to give you a copy of the documents associated with the contract that he wishes to sign with you. You will be able to go over the information and appreciate the value of the offer at your leisure.

An itinerant merchant offers to sell you a heating appliance (e.g. a heat pump) or solar panels. Beware of any claims from the merchant that the appliance will cost you next to nothing because you will save energy and benefit from government programs. Merchants are prohibited from making false or misleading statements.

Government programs and tax credits

Energy efficiency programs and tax credits that aim to encourage eco-friendly home renovations certainly do exist. However, the government bodies responsible for such programs do not hire representatives to sell you anything at your home or over the phone.

As a homeowner, it is up to you to determine whether you satisfy the conditions to benefit from such programs (eligibility criteria, eligible work, financial aid, etc.). Don't just take the word of a salesperson. His or main intention is not for you to benefit from a program, but rather to sell you an appliance.

You can obtain information on:

  • the Rénoclimat program from Transition énergétique Québec. This program will guide you through your residential renovation project in order to improve your home's energy efficiency. You will benefit from personalized tips following a visit from a Rénoclimat advisor, all at a low cost. You may also qualify for financial assistance for various renovations, such as the installation of a heat pump.
  • the RénoVert tax credit from Revenu Québec. The eligibility period for this tax credit ended on March 31, 2019. Any eco-friendly home renovation work agreements entered into after that date are therefore automatically ineligible.

Energy savings

A salesperson may try to lure you with claims of significant savings on your electricity bill with the appliance he or she is selling (heat pump, solar panels, etc.). You will probably have difficulty checking those claims... As a result, you can ask the salesperson to put those savings claims in writing on the contract. If the salesperson refuses to do so, the claims may simply be false promises.

You plan to install solar panels? Hydro-Québec offers a calculator to estimate what it would cost to install panels, how much energy they could produce in a year and how long it would take to recoup your investment.

Take the time to think things over

Generally speaking, an offer made today will still be valid tomorrow. Take the time to think things over. The Office recommends not signing a contract on the spot.

It is a good idea to ask the salesperson to give you a copy of the documents related to the contract he or she wants to enter into with you. You can take the time to read through them and assess the value of the offer with a clear mind. If the salesperson refuses to leave you these documents, this may be a sign that you're doing well to think twice about it...

Recourse options

If a merchant has given you false or misleading information, you can contact the Office de la protection du consommateur to report the merchant.

The Consumer Protection Act clearly indicates the contents of a contract entered into with an itinerant merchant. Before signing it, make sure that your contract contains all the prescribed information. The page dealing with the Contents of a contract with an itinerant merchant lists the information that must be contained in the contract.

The clearer the agreement, the more you can avoid possible problems. Make sure the contents of the contract are in line with what the merchant told you. You can ask him to include any promises he made to you. If he refuses to do so, be cautious.

Itinerant merchants are usually not entitled to require or accept a payment or down payment from you within the 10 days that follow the day you receive the signed copy of your contract. They may do so under only one condition: if they have already given you the good. This rule applies because you are entitled to cancel your contract during this 10-day period.

Having work done

For example, if you are having renovation work done, you should refuse to have the work start before the 10-day period. This way you can avoid any source of conflict should you decide to cancel the contract.

After the 10-day period, it is advisable that you come to an agreement with the merchant so you can pay the merchant in installments, according to the progress of work. You can pay your last installment (between 10 and 15% of the total cost) when the work is completed. In doing so, you will make sure that the work is done to your complete satisfaction.

Last update : April 10, 2024

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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.