Mail order—including catalogues, magazine offers and bill inserts—is another way that consumers can buy things.
- Keep a record of the name, address and phone number of the company, the goods you ordered, the date of your order, the amount you paid and the method of payment.
- Keep a record of the promised delivery date if one is provided.
- You may wish to send your order and payment by registered mail. Canada Post offers this service for a fee, attaching a tracking number to your envelope so you can check that it arrived at the destination.
- If you are told that the shipment will be delayed, write the date of that notice in your records and the new shipping date, if you’ve agreed to wait longer.
- To limit unwanted mail, sign up with the free Do Not Contact service, operated by the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) under the Consumer Information tab of their website. The Association will instruct its mail-marketing members to take you off their lists. However, not all marketers belong to this association, meaning you may still continue to receive some unwanted mail.
You are under no obligation to accept or pay for any merchandise you receive in the mail that you did not order.
In most provinces and territories, when the sender asks for the merchandise back, you must return it at the sender’s expense. In some provinces and territories, the sender may not require you to pay for the goods or services unless you agreed to do so in writing.
To complain about unsolicited goods, contact your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office.
- Be suspicious of “free gifts” that require a “tax payment” or “registration fee,” sweepstakes requiring an entry fee or purchase, employment or work-at-home opportunities requiring a fee, offers requiring your credit card number or bank account number, loans that require you to pay a fee in advance, mailings that look like they are from official government agencies when they are not, and prize notices requiring you to call a 1-900 number. Accepting these “free gifts” may, in fact, result in you having to pay charges for little or nothing in return.
- Read the offer carefully. Get the advice of another person whose opinion you trust.
- Deal only with companies or charities whose reputation and integrity are known.
- Never give out your credit card number or personal, financial or employment information, unless you know with whom you are dealing.
- Never send money for any “free” merchandise or services.
- Think before making an impulse purchase. Take the time to compare the products, services and prices to those in local stores.
- Keep a record of the order, notes of the conversation and copies of the advertisement, cancelled cheque, receipt, letters and envelopes.
- Ask your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office or Better Business Bureau whether there have been any complaints against the company.
Mail fraud is a crime. If you believe you have been the victim of mail fraud, report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. For incidents of online fraud, send an email through Reporting Economic Crime Online (RECOL).
The Canadian Anti-fraud Centre
North Bay, Ontario P1B 8J8
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
RCMP Public Affairs and Communications Services
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R2
Provincial and Territorial Consumer Affairs Offices
Service Alberta, Consumer Contact Centre
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4L4
Consumer Protection BC
Victoria, British Columbia V8W 9J2
Consumer Protection Office, Manitoba Justice
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 0B6
Financial and Consumer Services Commission
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 1E1
Newfoundland and Labrador
St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador A1B 4J6
Consumer Affairs, Department of Municipal and Community Affairs
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories X1A 2L9
Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, Public Enquiries
1505 Barrington Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3K5
Consumer Affairs, Department of Community and Government Services
Baker Lake, Nunavut X0C 0A0
Consumer Protection Ontario, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
Toronto, Ontario M3M 1J8
Prince Edward Island
Consumer Services, Department of Justice and Public Safety
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 7N8
Office de la protection du consommateur
Québec, Quebec G1K 8W4
Consumer Services, Department of Community Services
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 2N1