News release

Online Shopping Becomes Safer for Nova Scotians

SERVICE N.S./MUNICIPAL RELATIONS--Online Shopping Becomes Safer for Nova Scotians


New rules for Internet commerce that take effect in Nova Scotia today, Dec. 19, will boost the confidence of online shoppers and clarify the responsibilities of businesses that sell goods and services on the Internet.

Changes to the regulations of the Consumer Protection Act specify information that must be available to an online buyer before and at the time of the sale. They also outline requirements for a contract, and the buyer's ability to reverse credit card charges through their card's issuer.

Nova Scotia businesses will benefit because consumers will be better informed before making a purchase and vendors could be seen by potential new customers as more reputable.

Online merchants must provide contact information, describe the goods or services involved, explain all costs and payment schedules (including in which currency the prices are quoted) and delivery details. The vendor must also say what options consumers have if they are not satisfied.

If a consumer proceeds with the sale, an Internet sales contract must be provided. It must include the above information. The merchant must be able to prove that the consumer received a copy of the contract. The consumer can cancel the sale if he or she doesn't receive a contract before any goods or services are received.

A consumer who receives an Internet sales contract that does not contain the specified information can cancel the order within seven days by notifying the online merchant. The same cancellation rights apply to a consumer who does not get the option to decline a contract or to correct an error.

If no delivery or service start date is given in the contract, the consumer can cancel the order within 30 days if no goods or services are received. To protect the merchant, a product or service is considered delivered if the consumer refuses the delivery or was not available following reasonable notice of a pending delivery.

Consumers will be able to ask their credit card company to remove the charge from their account if the merchant will not do so.

To remove a credit card charge, the consumer must write to the company that issued the card and provide their name, card number and card expiry date. The consumer must also provide the supplier's name, the date of the Internet sales contract, the amount charged, and a description of the goods and services. The buyer must tell the card issuer why he or she is cancelling the contract and how the merchant was notified that the order was cancelled.

Nova Scotia is among the first Canadian jurisdictions to adopt these consumer protection measures for online purchases. All provinces and territories will implement similar legislation in the near future. Comparable legislation exists in several American states as well.

The amendments to the Consumer Protection Act were passed in November 2001.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

New rules for Internet commerce take effect in Nova Scotia today, December 19th.

Businesses in Nova Scotia must now supply all online buyers with complete contact information, details about all costs associated with the sale and the firm's return and credit policy.

Consumers can now have charges to their credit cards reversed by the company that issues the card, if the merchant will not issue the credit.

Nova Scotia is among the first jurisdictions in Canada to offer this protection to consumers. Similar laws are expected to come into effect across the country.

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Contact:

Kevin Finch
Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations 902-424-2733 E-mail: