Dance and language are just two examples of the wide variety of options for recreational learning available. But before signing up, make sure you know what you’re getting into!
Registering and paying for your courses
To register, the organization, business or person offering the course must provide you with a written contact to sign.
The contract must indicate, among other things:
- The name and address of this person, organization or business
- The date of the first session or day of activities
- The location where the activities will be held
- The duration of the contract as well as the number of hours, days or weeks during which the course will be held (for example, two hours a week for 15 weeks, except weekends and year-end holidays)
- The hourly, daily or weekly rate (this rate must be the same for the duration of the contract)
- The total amount you must pay
You must be given a copy of your contract once it’s signed. The person, organization or business offering the activities must include a cancellation form with your copy. This form can be used to end the contract if you so choose.
If it does not contain the above information and you suffered some harm as a result, your contact is considered invalid (that is, as if you never signed it). If you wish to cancel your registration for this reason, you must inform the person, organization or business offering the activities by registered mail. In case of disagreement, you can go to small claims court to enforce your rights.
Certain rules apply if you register online:
- Before confirming your registration, you must have access to all the information that must be contained in the contract. You must also have the opportunity to correct any errors in the information before confirming your registration. Finally, the person, organization or business offering the courses must provide you with a way to contact them online, for example, by email.
If any of these rules was not followed, you have seven days from the date of receipt of your contract to cancel it, at no cost.
- You must receive a copy of your contract within 15 days following your registration.
If you did not receive your contract within this timeframe, you can cancel your registration within 30 days of the date your registered for the course.
Paying for your courses
You do not have to pay before your first session or day of activity has been held.
The person, organization or business offering the courses must give you the opportunity to pay in two or more instalments. These instalments must be of approximately equal value and must be spread out over approximately equal periods (for example, at the beginning and middle of the session).
In two instances, however, payment can be required in one instalment:
- When the total cost of the contract is $100 or less
- When the sessions are held over three consecutive days or less, regardless of the price
Cancelling your registration
You can cancel your contract if the person, organization or business offering the course did not respect their obligations at the time of registration.
You can also cancel your contract without providing any reasons. You’re not required to pay any penalty or fee if you did not yet start the course. However, if you started the course, you must pay:
- for the sessions or days you already attended
- a penalty of $50, or 10% of the price of the sessions or days you have not yet attended — whichever is less
Your Spanish course costs $80 per lesson, and you’re registered for 10 lessons for a total of $800.
1) You decide to stop taking the course after two lessons. You must pay the cost of the lessons already taken (two lessons x $80 = $160) and a penalty of $50. The penalty is $50 because this is less than 10% of the cost of the lessons not taken: $800 – $160 = $640 x 10% = $64
2) You decide to stop taking the course after 6 lessons. You must pay the cost of the lessons already taken (6 lessons x $80 = $480) in addition to a penalty of $32. The penalty is $32 because this 10% of the cost of the lessons not taken ($800 – $480 = $320 x 10% = $32) and it is less than $50
To cancel your course, you must send one of the following documents (ideally by registered mail):
- The cancellation form that was included with your contract when you registered
- A written notice informing them of your cancellation
The person, organization or business offering the course must refund you any advance payment you made within 10 days of the cancellation of the contract. They may deduct the amounts you owe, as explained above.
Termination of courses
If the person, organization or business offering the courses you’re taking terminates its activities, try to contact them immediately. Check to see if you can still take the remaining sessions or receive immediate compensation.
If you do not receive anything, send a demand letter. If you do not get a response, you can submit an application to small claims court. We also recommend that you read Éducaloi’s article on enforcing your rights as a consumer.
If the person, organization or business goes bankrupt, consult the website of the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy for your possible recourses.
Important: exceptions to the rule
You do not benefit from the protection of the rules described above when the workshop or course is given in one session or in one day.
In addition, these rules do not apply when the workshop or course is organized by:
- a CEGEP, university, school board, or school, as part of their educational program
- Therefore, the rules described above apply, for example, to swimming lessons offered to children by a college or university at its sports centre.
- a municipality or the government
- The rules described above do not apply, therefore, to activities organized by the recreation department of a municipality, but do apply to courses given by a private organization in a municipal recreation centre.
- the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique du Québec
- a person who is a member of a professional order (for example, parenting workshops given by a social worker)
Note that “gyms” and “weight-loss clinics” are governed by different rules than those explained in this article.