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Consumer Advisory - Buying Tips


The Financial and Consumer Services Commission (FCNB) issued the following advisory today to help consumers avoid financial losses or disputes when making major purchases.
“We want consumers to have the information they need to make informed choices and feel empowered to make the right financial decisions,” said Marissa Rignanesi, senior education co-ordinator for the FCNB.
Before making a major purchase, consumers are advised to:

  • Research the company: Check the reputation of the company with friends, relatives, neighbours, and by checking with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints filed against the business.
  • Ask before making a deposit: If required to pre-pay for a product or service, ask what the options are for cancelling the order. Businesses are not required to give back any deposit, so make small ones.
  • Get it in writing: Get any promises made by a seller in writing.  It is easier to prove what was said in case there is a dispute.
  • Check the return policy: Unless stated in their policy, a seller does not have to give a refund or exchange a product if the consumer changed their mind about the purchase.

Business closures Unfortunately consumers may find themselves in the situation where they have pre-paid for something and the business closes. Or they could be left with warranty issues or unused gift cards.

  • Visit the location: Stop by the closed business to see if a notice has been posted, giving any further contact information. If the business has declared bankruptcy, then contact the Superintendent of Bankruptcy and if possible register as an unsecured creditor.
  • Find out your options for cancelling payment: If you paid by credit card, contact the credit card company to see if the charges can be reversed due to the goods and services not being received. If a purchase was paid by other means (such as cheque), check with your bank to see about options for cancelling payment.

“When a business closes, you may be left confused and wondering where to turn, but you are not alone,” said Rignanesi. “While we may not be able to get your money back when it comes to closures, we can provide you with information about where to turn for help.”
For more smart buying tips or for questions about the rules around refunds, returns, exchanges or gift cards, visit the FCNB’s website.
The Financial and Consumer Services Commission (FCNB) regulates, educates and protects consumers and investors from unfair, improper or fraudulent practices. It brings together regulatory authorities for securities, insurance, pensions, consumer affairs, co-operatives, credit unions, caisses populaires, and loan and trust companies. It is an arm's-length Crown Corporation self-funded by the fees and assessments paid by the regulated sectors.