Part 2 – Direct agreements
Unsolicited door-to-door sales banned for certain household goods and services
As of March 1, 2018 changes were made to the Consumer Protection Act which affect goods and services sold door-to-door. If a consumer signed a contract made through a door-to-door sale after March 1, 2018 for one of the products or services listed below, the agreement is not legally binding and is considered void. In addition, the consumer is permitted to keep the product or service without any obligation to pay for it.
However, there is an exception to this rule if the consumer contacted the business and arranged to meet in their home for the purpose of entering into an agreement to buy or lease one of the products or services specified in the new rule. In those circumstances, any agreement made would be legal and binding.
The new rules apply to the door-to-door purchase of:
water treatment devices
duct cleaning services
bundles of these goods and services
Other important rules under the Act include:
Consumers can invite a business to their home and any contract under such circumstances is valid and is subject to the 10-day cooling off period.
If a consumer calls for repairs, maintenance, an energy assessment, or any reason other than entering into a contract for one of the restricted items, the business can only perform the work that they were requested to do and cannot enter into a new contract for the sale of a restricted goods. The business is permitted, however, to leave information about the products and services they offer.
If a consumer already has a written contract in placewith a business, the business is permitted to contact the consumer by phone, schedule a visit upon the consumer’s request, and enter into a new contract. However, if the business plans to offer the consumer one of the restricted products and services, they must inform them of this fact before visiting the consumer’s home. Also, prior to making an offer or presentation to the consumer, the business must get the consumer’s approval to hear their offer.
Retail businesses must keep records regarding new contracts for up-to three years.
Penalties for businesses violating the law include: a fine of up-to $50,000 or imprisonment for up-to two years, less a day, or both, for individuals; a fine of up-to $250,000 for corporations.
Before signing an agreement
Before signing an agreement, make sure you take the time to read it completely from beginning to end, including any sections on the back. If the seller doesn’t want to give you ample time to review the agreement before signing it, this may be an indication that the agreement states something different from what the seller is telling you. Don’t ever be pressured into signing an agreement you don’t fully understand. If it is an important agreement, or one that is for a large sum of money, you should consider having a lawyer review it before you sign.
The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and other public organizations have created several consumer programs, such as Consumer Protection Ontario, that provide valuable information to consumers, promote and enforce public safety laws, investigate alleged violations and handle complaints.