Door-to-Door Deception

As of January 2017, section 9.1(1) of the Direct Selling Business Licensing Regulation has made it a prohibited practice to sell furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters, windows and energy audits door to door.[1] This regulation does not retroactively apply to individuals who purchased these items before January 2017. Numerous consumers have been tricked and taken advantage of by door-to-door salesmen, and this legislation seeks to protect future consumers.

A consumer with a contract signed before January 2017 may still be afforded protection under the Fair Trading Act.[2] It is an offence for a supplier to engage in unfair practices and consumers have one year to cancel a transaction with no penalty or cost to themselves, if the supplier has engaged in an unfair practice.[3]

Examples of unfair practices include:

  • undue pressure or influence in the sales process;[4]
  • taking advantage of someone as a result of their inability to understand the character, nature, language or effect of the consumer transaction or any matter related to the transaction;[5]
  • using exaggeration, innuendo or ambiguity as to a material fact of the transaction;[6]
  • charging a price for goods that grossly exceeds the price at which similar goods are readily available;[7]
  • failure to disclose total number of payment installments or total purchase price of the products;[8]
  • including terms in a contract that are harsh, oppressive or excessively one-sided;[9]
  • a supplier’s representation that a part, replacement, repair or adjustment is needed when it is not.[10]

Under Section 7.1(1) of the Fair Trading Act, a consumer wanting to cancel a transaction “must give notice within one year of a supplier having been found to have engaged in an unfair practice related to a consumer transaction”. The notice must indicate the consumer’s intention to cancel the consumer transaction or to seek recovery if cancellation is not possible. The notice must also include the consumer’s reasons for wanting to cancel the transaction.

If you believe that you, or a client, are the victim of a contract made with a door-to-door salesman you can contact Service Alberta for more information on cancelling a contract at: 1-877-427-4088 or online at http://www.servicealberta.gov.ab.ca/pdf/tipsheets/Dealing_With_Door_to_Door_Sales.pdf.

[1] Direct Selling Business Licensing Regulation: https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/laws/regu/alta-reg-190-1999/latest/alta-reg-190-1999.html

[2] Fair Trading Act: https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/laws/stat/rsa-2000-c-f-2/latest/rsa-2000-c-f-2.html?resultIndex=1

[3] Ibid, Section 7(1).

[4] Ibid s 6(2)(a).

[5] Ibid s 6(2)(b).

[6] Ibid s 6(2)(c).

[7] Ibid s 6(2)(d).

[8] Ibid s 6(4)(s).

[9] Ibid s 6(3)(c).

[10] Ibid s 6(4)(p).

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About Erin O'Neill

Erin O’Neill is a third year law student at the University of Alberta with an interest in civil litigation, employment law and insurance law. Erin has spent the summer at ECLC working with the three civil staff lawyers on a variety of files from residential tenancy matters to life insurance claims. If the sun is out, Erin is most likely spending her free time playing softball or cheering on the Edmonton Eskimos.
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