Misleading Advertising

As part of its goal to ensure consumers have competitive prices and product choice, the Competition Act prohibits a number of marketing practices.

  • Misleading advertising occurs when a claim about a product or service is materially false or misleading, in an attempt to persuade the consumer to buy it.
  • Double ticketing occurs when a seller puts two or more prices on a product or service, and the consumer is not charged the lowest price.
  • Pyramid selling is a multilevel marketing plan that uses certain specific deceptive means to obtain money (see also "Multi-Level Marketing and Pyramid Selling Schemes").
  • Bait and switch occurs when a seller attracts customers by advertising a certain product or service at a bargain price and then persuades the customer to purchase a more expensive item, since the seller does not have reasonable quantities of the advertised item in stock.

Consumers may complain to the Government of Canada about any of these practices even when they have no intention of buying the product. Consumers may contact the Competition Bureau to file a complaint or obtain additional information. When the matter relates to labeling or advertising of food, contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. You may also contact your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office.

You may also complain to Advertising Standards Canada about misleading advertising. This non-governmental body is made up of advertisers, representatives from advertising agencies and the media, and consumers. It discourages false or misleading advertising by its members through codes of conduct.

See also, "Advance Fee Scams," "Consumer Privacy," "Contracts,"and "Unfair or Deceptive Business Practices".

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