As consumers, we have access to thousands of products and services each day, and many different ways to purchase them. We find them in our local stores, order them from a catalogue, purchase them online via the Internet or buy them from a direct seller.
Who are Direct Sellers?
Most of us associate direct selling with door-to-door salespeople. But direct sellers are any sellers -- door-to-door or otherwise -- who initiate the sale of any goods or services at a location away from a usual place of business.
They are the telemarketers who call you with a special offer on carpet cleaning; the salespeople who sell items at home-based parties; or the salespeople who knock on your door with a revolutionary new product that can't be bought in stores.
Many of these sales are problem-free, but there are times where you might find yourself wondering what to do if the product or service you've purchased is not what you were promised, is defective, or has not been received. Perhaps the seller has not met the terms of the contract you signed or you've changed your mind and want to cancel the sale. What then?
When buying goods or services from a direct seller, you have rights as a consumer. Using caution can ensure you receive the product you were promised, or get your money back if the terms of the contract are not met.
How do I know the seller is a legitimate, reputable salesperson?
Every direct seller must be licensed by the province, or carry identification (permit or license?) proving that s/he is associated with a licensed company. In fact, every direct seller is required by law to use his or her licensed name and number in all communications—written and verbal—with you. You should always ask for this information up front, whether you are invited to a candle party or called on the telephone.
What happens when I agree to purchase goods or services?
Once you have agreed to purchase goods or services, the direct seller should present you with a statement of cancellation and, for sales totaling more than $100, a contract. The contract should include the name of the seller's company, the company's address, and the company's phone number. The contract should also give a description of the goods or services you've purchased, the number of items purchased, the price of each item, the total cost, and the date of delivery. The contract should be dated and signed by the seller and include his or her name. Be sure to save your copy of the contract in case you decide to cancel the sale.
How do I cancel a sale?
If you are serious about cancelling a sale, you have a 10-day period from the day you receive the contract or cancellation statement to do so. This is called the "cooling-off" period. You do not have to give the seller a reason for cancelling your purchase.
If the seller fails to meet the terms of the contract, for example, if the goods or services do not match the description in the contract or are not delivered within 30 days of the promised delivery date, you may cancel the sale up to a year from receiving the contract or cancellation statement. To cancel the sale, you must submit a notice of cancellation to the address specified on the cancellation statement or the contract. You should submit the notice by fax, registered mail, or personal delivery so that you have proof the document was sent. You must return the goods to the seller who then has 15 days in which to refund your money and any trade-in or the cash value of the trade-in.
What if the company goes out of business?
Sometimes companies go out of business before delivering goods and services that have been purchased. If this happens to you, don't worry. If you made sure the company was a licensed direct seller, there's a good chance you'll receive a refund. That's because all licensed direct sellers must provide a bond to the province based on the value of the goods or services they sell. The bond should cover the money you're owed.
For More Information
If you would like more information on your rights when dealing with direct sellers, please contact Service Nova Scotia by calling (902) 424-5200 or toll-free in Nova Scotia at 1-800-670-4357.