As easy as online shopping is, you’ve probably bought something with a quick and simple click and then regretted it and wanted to cancel. Consumers that order products online from local or international websites should be aware that they are entering agreements with sellers when they place their orders and finalize their payments.

These agreements are sales contracts, which ought to include the name and contact information of the seller, the after tax price and shipping costs associated with the item, the delivery or service date, and an explanation of the right to cancel, return, or exchange any products. It is important for consumer to know who they are dealing with before making a purchase online, and to check the warranties and guarantees of the product, to whom any complaints may be made, and the return policy of the seller prior to buying any product.

Although the Consumer Protection Act of Ontario applies to any internet purchases if either the consumer or seller are located in Ontario during the sale, there are no requirements for businesses to provide returns or exchanges and, notably, cancellation rules only apply to purchases that exceed $50 CAD not including taxes. If a purchase that exceeds $50 CAD is made, the seller must provide the consumer with the contract or sales agreement (which in some cases can be the invoice) by mail or email that includes transaction details, and the consumer has the right to exit the contract under certain circumstances, by requesting a refund in writing directly from a business or cancelling processing payments via credit card providers.

Agreement cancellation deadlines depend on specific circumstances including occasions where the following is met:

  • The seller does not deliver the item within 30 days of the date of the contract, which allows for cancellation at any time before the seller attempts to deliver a product or service, unless the consumer agrees to late deliveries or start dates; or
  • The seller uses unfair practices to convince consumers to buy their product or service including overcharging or making misrepresentations, which allow cancellation any time within one year of the agreement; or
  • The seller does not provide a copy of the agreement within 15 days or the agreement does not contain the required information, which allows for cancellation 30 days after the agreement; or
  • The seller does not provide consumers with all the required information before an order is placed, or the consumer did not have a chance to accept the agreement or correct mistakes before entering the agreement, which only allows for cancellation within 7 days of receiving a copy of the agreement.

Qualifying cancellations should be made in writing and mailed or emailed to the seller, and a copy of the notice should be kept by the consumer, otherwise confirmation and identification numbers and information should be obtained if the cancellation takes place over the phone or in person. After the formal cancellation notice is sent, the seller has 15 days to refund payments and the purchaser has 15 days to return any items. If the refund process is complicated or the seller does not comply, consumers may file a complaint with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to obtain an order for specific performance.

Consumers may have legal rights beyond what is covered by the Consumer Protection Act including legal action if the product is of exceptionally poor quality or not as described, the seller used unfair business practices, or the agreement was cancelled without a refund being processed. Consumers must sue within two years after the problem arises under Ontario’s Statute of Limitations Act if they are to bring an action in small claims court for up to $35,000 CAD, and legal advice from qualified professionals should be sought before any sort of litigation.

Consumer Protection Act

Advice on shopping online or over the phone

Returns, exchanges, and warranties in Ontario

Cancelling Orders Online

Online shopping Protection

Filing a Consumer Complaint