Cancelling an Online Purchase


When you shop on the Internet, you sometimes get an item that is different than the online description.

That’s why the Consumer Protection Act places a number of obligations on merchants, including those selling online, and allows you to cancel your purchase and receive a refund if these obligations are not respected.

The rules explained in this article don’t apply in these cases:

  • you take part in an auction on a website such as eBay or
  • you buy something from an individual who isn’t a merchant (often the case on Kijiji or LesPacs)
  • you buy pre-arranged funeral services
  • you were not in Quebec when you made the purchase or the merchant didn’t intend to sell or offer to sell the product in Quebec

To find out if the rules explained in this article apply to your situation, contact the Office de la protection du consommateur (consumer protection bureau).

When You Can Cancel an Online Purchase

You can cancel your purchase in these cases within seven days of receiving your copy of the contract:

  • The merchant’s offer didn’t contain the following information, or the information wasn’t clear:
    • merchant’s name, address, telephone number, fax number or e-mail address
    • details about the product or service
    • the price of each product or service and total amount to be paid, including tax and other costs that the merchant is charging
    • the currency in which the amount is payable, if not in Canadian dollars
    • additional charges, such as customs duty and broker’s fees
    • shipping information, for example, date and place of delivery, method of delivery and the name of the shipper
    • special conditions for cancelling, if any
    • conditions for return, exchange or refund, if any
    • any other restriction or condition

      Important! If you notice that the contract doesn’t have all this information when you receive the product or service, the seven-day period for cancelling the purchase starts later. This can happen, for example, when the merchant sends you free samples when you buy a membership. If you paid with a credit card, the seven days starts only after you get your credit card bill. If you paid in another way, the seven days starts after you receive the product or service.
  • The merchant didn’t give you a chance to accept or refuse the offer or correct any mistakes.
  • The contract isn’t in writing, doesn’t contain your name, address or the date, or doesn’t contain the information required by law (see above). Note that the merchant has 15 days to send you a copy of the contract.
  • The copy of the contract you received can’t be easily saved or printed.

If the merchant didn’t send you a copy of the contract within 15 days of the purchase, you have 30 days from the date of purchase to cancel it.

If you bought event tickets from a reseller who is a merchant, you can cancel your purchase in these situations:

  • If the location, seat or value of the ticket is not as advertised by the reseller, you can cancel your purchase any time before the date of the event.
  • If the event is cancelled, you can cancel your purchase at any time after the event is cancelled but before the date the event is rescheduled.

Also, you can cancel the purchase at any time in these cases:

  1. The merchant didn’t respect its main responsibility (for example, the merchant didn’t send you the shoes you bought) within 30 days of the purchase, or within 30 days of the date mentioned in the contract.
  2. The merchant didn’t send you the documents you need to get the service or attend the event you paid for. For example, you didn’t get your airline or train tickets, confirmation of your room reservation, or event tickets on time.

Have you just bought a gym membership, joined a weight-loss clinic or signed up for a course or training program? The rules for cancelling these purchases are different from the ones explained below, even if you made them online.

To find out how to cancel these purchases, contact the Office de la protection du consommateur (consumer protection bureau).

How to Cancel an Online Purchase

It’s easy! Just send the merchant a notice that you’re cancelling the purchase for one or more of the reasons described above.

It’s best to send the notice in a way that proves you sent it, for example, by registered mail.

Sending the cancellation notice is enough to cancel the purchase along with any other purchases made at the same time (such as a warranty).

Getting a Refund (or Chargeback for Credit Card Purchases)

The merchant must refund all amounts you paid within 15 days of cancelling the purchase. You must send the items back to the merchant in the same condition you received them in. The merchant must pay the cost of returning them.

But what if the merchant refuses to refund your money?

When you use a credit card to pay for what you buy online, you get special protection called a chargeback. This protection lets you get a refund from the bank that issued your credit card if the merchant doesn’t send you the refund.

How to Get a Chargeback

You have to wait until the end of the 15 days the merchant has for giving you the refund. Then you can ask the bank for a chargeback. You have 60 days to do this.

You must request the chargeback in writing and include the following information:

  • your name
  • the credit card number and expiry date
  • the merchant’s name
  • the date of purchase
  • the amount charged to your credit card and the amount to be refunded by the merchant
  • a description of the products or services that you bought
  • the reason you’re cancelling the purchase
  • the date the purchase was cancelled (that is, the date you sent your cancellation notice) and how you sent the notice

Your bank has 30 days to let you know that it received your request.

It must then refund all credit card charges in connection with your online purchase. It must give you the refund within the shorter of these two periods:

  • 90 days after your chargeback request or
  • two complete statement periods for your credit card.

For more information, call the customer service number on the back of your credit card.

You might also have a problem if you buy online from an individual who isn’t a merchant. In this case, you can send the seller a “demand letter” asking for a refund. If the seller doesn’t answer your letter, you can sue the seller in court.

Our Video: Cancelling an Online Purchase