Did you know that advertising aimed at people under the age of 13 is not allowed in Quebec?
This restriction includes ads on the television and radio, in newspapers and on the Internet and posters, as well as promotional items.
There are exceptions, of course. For example, advertising aimed at children under the age of 13 is allowed in these cases:
- The ad appears in a children's magazine published every three months or more.
- The ad is for a children's show.
- The ad is for educational purposes, such as a safety campaign.
Even in these cases, the ad must follow very specific rules to protect children, who can be easily influenced.
For example, a business cannot lead children to believe that a certain toy is the best there is and that they will be better than other people if they have it.
Advertising Is a Promise
Imagine that you are shopping with your friends and notice an ad in a store window. The offer is unbelievable! The special seems too good to be true. You think there must be a catch.
The store must offer what it advertised because an ad is like a promise.
Businesses can't offer a product that is different from the one offered in an ad.
This is true no matter what type of advertising is used:
- television commercial
- brochure or pamphlet
This means you can ask for the products or services advertised.
For example, if a driving school advertises that it offers driving lessons for both manual and automatic cars, it cannot turn around and offer lessons for automatic cars only.
If you sign a contract with a business after you see an ad, the business must respect the ad, even if what the ad says is not written in the contract.
Important! You must pay attention to exactly what the ad says. For example, the fine print might say that the offer does not apply in certain circumstances. For example, you might have to meet specific conditions to get the sale price.
False Advertising Is Not Allowed!
Businesses can't use false or misleading advertising.
An ad is misleading if it has words or images that lead you to believe something that is false. In other words, the ad can't try to convince you to buy something by telling you lies.
For example, an ad can't lead you to believe that a computer has a high-definition screen if it doesn't.
What Can You Do?
If the product or service is different from the one advertised, or if the ad is misleading, you have these rights:
- to purchase what the ad describes
- to pay a lower price for what you want to buy
- to get a refund for something you already bought
If you can't reach an agreement with the seller, you can contact the Office de la protection du consommateur (consumer protection bureau) for help settling your issue.
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.