Beware of Fake Bargains!

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You’re planning your holiday gift shopping? You’d like to take advantage of the different sales: Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day? But do you always save with these sales? Beware of fake bargains!

What is a fake bargain?

Fake bargains often take one of these two forms:  

  • A “sale price” that does not involve any actual discount. For example, a store usually sells a computer at $1500 and then, one day, announces that it is “on sale at the special discounted price”… of $1500.
  • A store announces that it has the lowest price for a certain item but, in fact, another store is offering it for less.

What if you find out after buying?

Here are a few ways to deal with the situation if you find out that something you bought was a fake bargain:

  • Ask for a refund if the store has a refund policy and you meet the conditions.
  • Take advantage of a “lowest price guarantee” if the store offers one. Many stores have a policy that provides a discount or other benefit if you find a lower price elsewhere.
  • Discuss the matter with the store manager and propose a solution, for example, refunding you the difference between what you paid and a lower price you found at another store.
  • Use the online dispute settlement platform (PARLe) of the Office de la protection du consommateur (consumer protection office).

If you can’t settle the matter to your satisfaction through one of these means, you could send the store a demand letter (in French, mise en demeure) with your request. If they refuse your request, or don’t even answer, you could sue them in small claims court.

It is also possible to file a complaint with the Office de la protection du consommateur. The store could receive a fine if found to be at fault.