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A Word to the Wise About Door-to-Door Sellers

Have you ever:

  • felt pressured to buy from a seller at your door?
  • found out after a sale that the price was too high or the quality poor?
  • made a downpayment and never received the goods or services?
  • thought that a door-to-door seller misrepresented the product?

This pamphlet provides information on your options if you deal with a door-to-door seller.

Many door-to-door sellers are legitimate. They can offer convenient and personal service in your home. Unfortunately, some are not.

What protection do I have?

A law called the Direct Sellers Act helps protect consumers in New Brunswick by requiring that:

  • all door-to-door sellers get licenses,
  • Your best protection is being an alert consumer.
  • non-resident vendors be bonded, and
  • purchasers have the right to cancel the contract under some circumstances.

Your best protection is being an alert consumer.

What should I do if a seller knocks at my door?

  • Ask yourself if you are really interested in the product or service. If not, say so. You will save your time and the seller's.
  • If you are interested in the product or service, find out who the seller is. Ask to see a direct seller's license. Where does the seller live? Can you contact the seller if something goes wrong? Can the seller provide service for the product?
  • Don't let a seller pressure you into buying. For example, be careful if the seller says it is a one-time offer only available now.
  • Remember that if a deal sounds too good to be true - it probably is.
  • Shop around and talk to other people before you make an important purchase. Another seller may offer lower prices or better quality. Get more than one estimate.
  • Read a contract carefully before signing.
  • Don't pay in advance. You may never see the seller again.

What kind of sales does the Act cover?

Direct selling is when a person goes house-to-house to sell, offer for sale or seek orders for goods or services. It includes door-to-door sales pitches and home parties. It also covers most cases where you ask a seller to come to your home, such as a visit arranged by telemarketing.

The Act does not apply:

  • if the total price is $100 or less.
  • to mail order transactions.
  • to newspapers published daily or weekly.
  • to perishable food products.
  • if a contract was solicited, negotiated or concluded at the seller's business premises, or a marketplace, auction, fair or exhibition.
  • to primary forest products, coal, gas or fuel.
  • to certain products or services used for business, fishing or agriculture, such as fertilizer.
  • to a person authorized to sell real estate, insurance, investments, training courses or motor vehicles.
  • if the vendor is a New Brunswick resident and did not make first contact with the purchaser or only did so through public advertising, such as a newspaper ad.

Do I get a copy of the contract?

The seller must give you a copy of the contract at the time of the sale. The contract must be filled out and signed. It must:

  • state your cancellation rights in clear, readable print.
  • state the names of the vendor and salesperson.
  • give an address where you can deliver a cancellation notice.

The seller must give you a written copy.

Can I change my mind?

You can change your mind up to 10 days after receiving a copy of the contract, without giving a reason. The seller cannot charge a penalty if you cancel the contract in this time.

What can I do if I don't receive the goods or services?

The seller must deliver the goods or start to provide services within 30 days of the due date. If not, you have up to one year to cancel the contract. However if you accept delivery, you cannot then cancel the contract.

What if the seller did not have a license?

If the seller did not have a license or broke the license conditions, you can cancel the contract. You can do this up to one year after making the contract. You can find out if the seller had a license by calling Consumer Affairs.

How do I cancel a contract with a door-to-door seller?

Send a letter to the seller's address. Use a method such as registered mail, courier, fax or personal delivery. This way you can prove you delivered the notice.

If I cancel, can I get my money back?

If you cancel the contract, the seller must refund your money within fifteen days. The seller must also return any goods taken on trade. You must then return the goods to the seller. They must be in a condition as good as when you received them. You must also pay a reasonable amount for any goods that you used up or services that the seller performed. However, the seller cannot claim payment until after making a full refund.

What else can I do if I'm not satisfied?

If you have unresolved problems, such as the seller refuses to refund your money, you may consider going to court. You can use the small claims procedure if the amount falls under the small claims limit.

For more information or to report a problem with a direct seller, contact:
Financial and Consumer Services Commission

The Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick (PLEIS-NB) is a non-profit organization. Its goal is to provide New Brunswickers with information on the law. PLEIS-NB receives funding and in-kind support from Justice Canada, the New Brunswick Law Foundation and the Department of Justice of New Brunswick. We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the Consumer Affairs branch, New Brunswick Department of Justice, in the development of this pamphlet.

This pamphlet does not contain a complete statement of the law in the area, and changes in the law may occur from time to time. Anyone needing advice on his or her legal position should consult a lawyer.

Published by:
P.O. Box 6000 Fredericton, N.B.
Tel: (506) 453-5369
Fax: (506) 462-5193
June 2004
ISBN: 1-55236-080-6



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Disclaimer: Please note that our website contains general information about the law. This is not a complete statement of the law on particular topics. We try to update our publications often, but laws change frequently so it is important for you to check to make sure the information is up to date.  The information in our publications is not a substitute for legal advice. To receive legal advice about your specific situation, you need to speak to a lawyer.