Smart Consumer Tips

Before you sign any contract…



1. Know who you are dealing with. Don’t do business with any business that won’t provide its name, street address and telephone number.


2. Protect your personal information. Share credit card or other personal information only when you are buying from a business you know and trust.


3. Take your time. Resist any urge to “act now” despite the offer and the terms. Once you turn over the money, you may never get it back.


4. Read the small print. Get all promises in writing and review all the documents Carefully before you pay any money or sign a contract.


5. Never pay for a “free” gift. Throw away any offer that asks you to pay for a gift. If it’s free or a gift, you shouldn’t have to pay for it. Free is free.


6. Check carefully for written warranties and guarantees.


7. Under the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 consumers may have 10 days to cancel contracts signed in their home, for any reason, and up to 1 year to cancel if the contract fails to meet certain requirements. This cancellation may be subject to reasonable compensation to the supplier.


8. Once you have decided on a business, check the Ministry’s Consumer Beware list, the local Chamber and with friends and family and the local building department.


9. Get written detailed estimates from at least three contractors and stay away from a contractor who quotes a flat rate before inspecting your home.


10. Don’t be pressured to sign a contract right away in order to take advantage of a door-to-door special.


11. Keep down payments to a minimum; 10% of the total estimate is fair and never pay the full amount until the work has been completed.


12. Make sure everything you agree to is in the agreement and is in writing: the cost, start and end dates; and who is responsible for the clean-up and the permits.


13. A consumer is NOT required to pay more than 10% above the written estimate provided by the supplier.


14. For large amounts of money, consider obtaining legal advice to review the contract terms.


For additional information and assistance please contact the Elliot Lake and North Shore Community Legal Clinic at 461-3935 or 1-800-465-2479 or visit us on the web at