The Office de la protection du consommateur is a body of the Government of Québec that was established in 1971. We provide services to consumers and merchants.
The Office de la protection du consommateur:
- protects consumers and monitors the application of the laws and regulations under its responsibility;
- Informs consumers collectively and individually, educates them and receives their complaints;
- fosters concerted action among stakeholders of the consumer market (consumers, merchants and the associations representing them);
- represents the interests of consumers in dealings with public organizations operating in Québec, Canada and worldwide.
Section 292 of the Consumer Protection Act describes the mandates entrusted to the Office by the Government of Québec.
The Office monitors the activities of merchants and receives complaints from consumers
The Office works on applying the laws and regulations under its responsibility by regularly monitoring the activities of merchants.
To make sure that they engage in activities according to the law, we issue permits to the following merchants:
- collection agents;
- travel agents;
- itinerant merchants, i.e. those conducting sales or soliciting consumers for the purpose of making a sale elsewhere than at their place of business (on the street, at the shopping centre or door to door, to name a few);
- motor vehicle merchants and recyclers;
- debt settlement service merchants negociating with the consumer creditors or receiving funds to be distributed to them;
- money lenders;
- merchants concluding high-cost credit contracts;
- merchants offering or concluding additional coverage contracts (extended warranties) pertaining to automobiles or motorcycles;
- merchants operating workout studios (workout centres or weight loss centres, for instance).
In addition, we:
- receive and process consumer complaints;
- conduct investigations;
- file lawsuits against merchants accused of wrongdoing in order to maintain healthy competition.
To find out more about the Office’s monitoring activities, go to Monitoring: ensuring that merchants respect the law.
The Office informs and educates consumers and merchants
We make sure that consumers are aware of their rights and obligations and of the recourses available to them. We provide them with tools to help them be more self-reliant and responsible about resolving any consumption problem they may have.
We also inform merchants about their obligations regarding the laws under our responsibility.
To reach these objectives, we:
- provide accurate, useful and up-to-date information to consumers and merchants and make it available on our Web site;
- answer questions from consumers and merchants and provide them with information via information campaigns and media releases (press releases, news columns, interviews);
- propose simple and effective tools to support consumers involved in a dispute with a merchant;
- provide consumers with information about:
- merchants who are required to hold a permit issued by the Office;
- merchants who are being or have been monitored by the Office and the formal notices they have received from consumers.
- meet with consumers and merchants at trade shows, conferences and training seminars;
- develop and host education activities dedicated to vulnerable consumer groups, such as elementary and secondary students, seniors, recently arrived immigrants, as well as support teachers and parents in their consumer education efforts;
- raise awareness among merchants, manufacturers and advertisers about the needs and demands of consumers;
- conduct studies and support universities involved in consumer research.
This information is displayed in the search tool Get information about a merchant;
The Office defends the interests of consumers and remains sensitive to consumer demands
The Office is sometimes asked to play a conciliatory role between a merchant and a consumer following the filing of a complaint.
We also refund consumers in sectors that offer financial protection plans (security), such as:
- trade or recycling of motor vehicles;
- collection of debts;
- debt settlement;
- sale of extended warranties for automobiles or motorcycles;
- health centres;
- itinerant merchants.
These refunds are made in the event of a closure or bankruptcy when merchants have paid out an amount of money for this purpose.
In carrying out this mandate, we also:
- subsidize the establishment and operation of consumer protection services or organizations, promote their work and collaborate with them;
- collaborate with merchants associations;
- develop partnerships with consumer researchers, with organizations involved in consumer protection and public organizations involved in the consumption sector as well as foster concerted action between these organizations;
- promote the interests of consumers before public organizations operating in Québec, Canada and worldwide whose activities affect consumers.