The Office de la protection du consommateur offers you a few tips to help you with your online purchases.

Do business with a trustworthy merchant

Watch out for scams

  • Beware of merchants that send you unsolicited email offers.
  • Some business practices are illegal:
    • providing false or misleading information;
    • demanding that you pay for goods and services you did not ask for;
    • charging a price that is higher than the one advertised.
  • Beware of “free” samples and offers that seem too good to be true… if they are free, you should not have to pull out your credit card!

Get information about the merchant

  • Refer to the Office de la protection du consommateur’s Get information about a merchant tool. Among other things, you can check whether the Office has intervened with this merchant.
  • Also refer to Registraire des entreprises du Québec (REQ) to check the merchant’s contact information, among other things. It is best to avoid doing business with a merchant that does not provide this information or that cannot be found in the REQ. If you have any problems, you may have difficulty enforcing your rights.
  • Lastly, ask people who have done business with that merchant for their opinion. A simple online search can sometimes be quite revealing.

Act like an informed consumer…

…by protecting your personal information

  • Be sure to do business on a secure website. The address of a secure website starts with https:// and an icon, usually a small closed padlock, appears next to the address bar or at the bottom of the page.
  • Do not provide information that can be used in the transaction. If you have doubts about a request for information, you could contact the merchant to find out how it plans to use this information.
  • Read the merchant’s privacy policy. It is often posted on its website.

…by finding out about the terms of payment

  • A merchant may only request a payment before delivering the goods or services if you pay by credit card. This payment method has a built-in protection: you could file a chargeback request to the issuer of the credit card you used to make the purchase, under certain conditions.
  • If you pay by means other than a credit card, the merchant may not charge a payment in advance, barring exceptional situations. For example, this would be the case for a magazine subscription.

…by checking the exchange and reimbursement conditions

  • The law does not require merchants to reimburse you for an item you no longer want, exchange the item or give you a credit voucher simply because you changed your mind.
  • Merchants are free to set the conditions of their exchange or reimbursement policy. However, they are required to abide by the terms set forth in their policy.
  • Regardless of its exchange or reimbursement policy, a merchant that sold you an item must abide by certain obligations if it is defective, non-compliant or presents a hazard. The merchant must repair, exchange or reimburse the item. To find out more, refer to the page on warranties provided for by law.

…by exercising caution when the merchant is located outside Québec

  • Make sure any goods you purchase abroad meet Canadian safety standards.
  • Keep in mind that some products may be confiscated at customs, such as perfumes and bottles of alcohol.
  • Find out about any fees you may have to pay, such as customs duties. You can refer to the website of the Canada Border Services Agency to check any information provided by the merchant on this subject.

If you have any problems…

Is the delivery late? Does the item you receive not match the one you purchased? Refer to the Office website to find out about your options.

The Online Purchases section contains a host of additional information.

You can also refer to another section dedicated to purchases made by phone or by mail.

Last update : May 25, 2021

Was the information on this page useful to you?

Didn’t find the answers to your questions?

If you have a question for the Office or would like to file a complaint, please call us or use our information request form.

Do you have a comment on the content of this page?

You can contact the webmaster to in the content of this page.

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.