As a consumer, you should expect to be treated fairly and honestly by the businesses you buy from. You should also feel confident when you make a purchase. FCNB is New Brunswick’s consumer protection watchdog. Through licensing, regulation, enforcement, and administration, we help maintain a fair marketplace while educating consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities. We investigate consumer complaints and provide information to the public on how to resolve complaints.
Since FCNB's mandate deals primarily with transactions that occur between a business and an individual (consumer), we are unable to intervene in business-to-business transactions.
New proposed protections
New Brunswickers will soon have additional consumer rights with the November 22, 2023, introduction of a proposed Consumer Protection Act.
When implemented, the Act will help protect New Brunswickers when they are making personal and household transactions – from buying a vehicle at a car dealership and shopping for clothes online to purchasing services sold door-to-door and putting down a deposit for future renovations.
It will seek to protect the following basic consumer rights:
- The right to be properly informed about products and transactions.
- The right to be safe from unfair business practices.
- The right to seek remediation when businesses do not comply by providing consumers with remedies and protections.
It will consolidate and update six existing regulatory areas overseen by FCNB and introduce six new consumer protection areas under one Act.
Six new consumer protection areas:
Unfair Practices – These provisions will prohibit businesses from deceiving or misleading a customer, using abusive practices and/or striking one-sided arrangements that favour the business over the consumer.
- A door-to-door salesperson spending hours in a person’s home pressuring them to purchase a product or service.
- A company charging four times the common price for an item without informing the consumer of the inflated price and the reason for it.
- A business advertising that an item is on sale when the item has never been sold at the regular price.
Internet Sales Agreements – These provisions will see New Brunswick’s internet sales laws harmonize with most other Canadian jurisdictions. When in place, New Brunswickers will be protected when they make online purchases for goods and services as well as people purchasing goods and services from New Brunswick businesses that sell online by providing some rules on disclosure and cancellation rights. The same protection will apply to contracts for the supply of goods and services that are not entered into in person.
Unsolicited Goods and Services – These provisions will prohibit businesses from sending or giving consumers goods or services – including an enhancement to a service that the consumer is already receiving – that the consumer did not order or agree to, and then charging them for it.
- A consumer is sent a meal kit in the mail that they didn’t ask for and the company is asking them to pay for it.
- A consumer was subscribed to receive kitty litter every month for a year and after a few months the company starts sending cat food instead without obtaining the consumer’s consent to the change.
Future Performance Contracts – These provisions will cover New Brunswickers who agree to buy a good or service that they will receive or pay for in the future. Contracts will be required to include certain information and consumers will have cancellation rights.
- A consumer pays a deposit to secure a home renovation that will take place months in the future.
Personal Development Services Contracts – These provisions will be specific to health, fitness, sports, modelling and talent services where you often pay for services upfront or in scheduled installments. The provisions will require these businesses to include certain information in their contracts, provide a copy of the contract to consumers and provide consumers with a cooling-off period and cancellation rights. It will also prohibit automatic renewal of these contracts.
High-Cost Credit – These provisions will regulate high-cost credit loans, including installment loans, that are often sought by New Brunswickers in vulnerable financial situations. Under the proposed legislation, businesses providing these types of loans will need to be licensed with FCNB. Lenders will be required to include certain information in their contracts, provide a copy of the contract to consumers and provide consumers with a cooling-off period and cancellation rights.
The new Consumer Protection Act will benefit both New Brunswickers and businesses. While most businesses will be impacted by the legislation, particularly through the new unfair practices provisions, for most it will come at little or no cost to comply. It will support competition by ensuring those New Brunswick businesses – already operating to high business standards – are not disadvantaged by those that do not.
The six existing regulatory areas being modernized and incorporated into the Act are:
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Check before buying
Until the new Consumer Protection Act becomes law, you can be a smart consumer by knowing your rights and responsibilities as a consumer, and what existing protections you have when making a consumer purchase in New Brunswick.
Have questions about such things as gift cards, refunds, warranties, direct sales, and funeral arrangements? Visit each topic's page for tips, tools, and resources that might answer your questions and help you make more informed decisions.