Buyer’s remorse laws: how they can save you from debt

Posted on 6 April 2023

Written by Jeff Adiken

You have probably heard of the term ‘buyer’s remorse’. It refers to a regret following a purchase that has been made. Perhaps you have bought an expensive purse, another vacation, or more clothes that you do not need. We all know it is all too easy to do. But then perhaps later that day, you think you have made a mistake. Maybe you realize you do not need it, that the items you bought are not worth the hefty price tag, or your money would have been put to better use somewhere else. Thankfully, there are a number of laws and policies in place to allow us to avoid feeling this regret of hasty purchases. Most commonly referred to altogether as buyer’s remorse rules, there is legislation to allow a cooling off period for customers to have a think about their purchase and to make sure they are within their means and budgets. In this article, we share all you need to know about buyer’s remorse laws, cooling off periods, and how you can gain debt relief if you feel that you need it.

What is buyer’s remorse?

Buyer’s remorse is an experience of regret or anxiety following a purchase. It can be for something small that you have bought, or as large as a purchase like a house. It is common for Canadians to feel buyer’s remorse, especially when we know we have purchased something we cannot afford or do not need. Thankfully, due to buyer’s remorse laws, there are things you can do to reverse your buying behaviour and relieve yourself of buyer’s remorse. Each Canadian province has its own buyer’s remorse laws, applicable to different offerings. Before you make a purchase, you should first check what they are and the terms and conditions relevant to your purchase. It can offer you the cooling off period that you may need.

What are buyer’s remorse laws?

Put simplistically, buyer’s remorse laws are rules you often experience when making a purchase. Say you purchase a purse at a store that offers a return policy – in most cases, you will be given 30 days to consider your purchase, whether it is appropriate, and if you really need it. If it does not meet these criteria or perhaps the product does not meet your expectations, you can take the purse back to the store for a full refund within the returns period. You should make full use of the return period to assess your purchase and whether or not you truly need what you have bought. Does it do what you need it to do? Is it truly necessary? If not, and you cannot afford it, you can go back on your purchase and obtain a refund. You may think a return policy is all when it comes to buyer’s remorse laws – however, each province in Canada has its own specific legislation around cancelling contracts. You will probably not be aware of these, as most retailers will not necessarily advertise them when you are making your purchase. Here are some of the most common buyer’s remorse laws in Ontario.

Door to door sale purchases

In most provinces – including Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec, if you buy services or products from a door to door salesman at your home, you have 10 days from receipt of your written agreement to cancel the purchase.

Payday loans

Payday loans were originally intended to be small sums of money lent to Canadians in need of funds to tide them over until their next paycheque, hence the term ‘payday loans’. In provinces including Ontario, British Columbia, and New Brunswick, you are able to cancel your payday loan contract without penalty.

Buying a new condo

In Ontario, from the day of purchase of a newly built condo, you have 10 days from the sale agreement or disclosure agreement (whichever is later) to end the purchase agreement. In British Columbia and Manitoba, this is a little less with 7 days to reconsider.

Buying a timeshare

Similarly to newly built condos, you have a 10 day cooling off period from your initial signup to a timeshare to terminate the agreement for any reason. You can also end the agreement within the first year if you do not receive a copy of the contract or if there is missing information required as part of the Consumer Protection Act.

Advance gym membership payments

If you pre-pay for a fitness or gym membership, you have 10 days from signature of the contract to cancel and receive a full refund in Ontario and British Columbia. In Nova Scotia, you have just five days, but it is important to understand your rights.

How to get rid of buyer’s remorse

Buyer’s remorse is something most of us have felt at some point in our lives. But how do you get rid of it? One of the easiest ways is to return the purchase in question. Whether it is a purse or a vacation, if you can return the item or cancel it, you will likely find yourself feeling relieved if you can get your money back. While sometimes it is not quite as easy as requesting a refund in store, the Consumer Protection Act is there to help Canadians by explaining the buyer’s remorse laws to help you to stop the feeling of regret.

What if you need further financial support?

While buyer’s remorse laws are there to protect Canadians from spending money they might not have, for some it is insufficient. In Ontario, for instance, there is no cooling off period for car purchases. If you are struggling with buyer’s remorse and unmanageable debt, there are ways to change your situation and there is support available to you. There is always a solution for your debt no matter how bad you may consider it to be. Licensed Insolvency Trustees are a good starting point for support, as the only professionals in Canada legally able to file all forms of debt relief. They will review your financial circumstances for you, and recommend a debt relief pathway. Your options will be explained, from debt consolidation to bankruptcy.

If you are struggling with buyer’s remorse or making purchases you simply cannot afford, reach out to Spergel for support. We have been helping Canadians gain debt relief for over thirty years, and we are here to help you too. Our experienced Licensed Insolvency Trustees treat all individuals with compassion and understanding. Book your free consultation today – you owe it to yourself.

Jeff Adiken

Jeff Adiken

Jeff Adiken is a Certified General Accountant and Chartered Insolvency and Restructuring Professional with over 18 years’ experience as an LIT (Licensed Insolvency Trustee). He also manages all of Spergel's personal insolvency offices and is our resident expert on credit card debt and debt-free living. When his 'manager hat' comes off at the end of the day, Jeff is happiest spending quality time with his family at home.

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