Governing Legislation and Resources for Consumer Protection (11:II)

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This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by the Law Students' Legal Advice Program on July 8, 2022.

A. Legislation

The SGA regulates contracts for the sale (or lease) of goods, but not services. The SGA is not concerned with the ethics of the transaction unless there is also a defect in the manner in which the contract is carried out (e.g. if the goods are not delivered, are damaged, or are unfit for the purpose for which they were sold). The protections are stronger for new goods and goods sold by sellers in the business of selling that good (e.g. retail stores) than for goods that the purchaser knows are used or sellers who are not in the business of selling that good.
The BPCPA is concerned with the ethics of a transaction, such as deceptive and unconscionable acts and practices, as well as content requirements for many types of consumer contracts. The BPCPA also gives consumers the right, under some circumstances, to cancel contracts where the consumer has ongoing obligations, such as time share and gym memberships. In addition, the Act regulates businesses that offer such contracts and other types of transactions that are open to abusing consumers, such as direct sales and payday loans. One of the key features of the Act is that it provides for statutory causes of action for certain kinds of consumer transactions.
The MDA sets out the requirements for motor dealers selling vehicles to retail consumers. It requires disclosure of the prior history of a car (e.g. its use as a taxi), any damage suffered over $2,000, and other important information. Clients with consumer complaints regarding car dealers should be directed to the Vehicle Sales Authority of British Columbia, which has the authority to investigate consumer complaints and provide dispute resolution.
NOTE: The MDA underwent several amendments in 2018-01-01 including amendments to the Consumer Advancement Fund that enacted ss 24.02-24.05, and provisions regarding the powers and undertakings of the registrar in ss 26.01-26.12.
The PPSA governs all security agreements, as well as chattel mortgages, conditional sales, floating charges, pledges, trust indentures, trust receipts, assignments, consignments, leases, trusts, and transfers of chattel paper that secure payment or performance of an obligation. A security interest is an interest in goods or other property that secures payment or performance of an obligation for a lender. It is used to determine who retained title; however, recent cases abolished title as the most important factor. See also Section 11:VI Conditional Sales Contracts and Security Agreements
The BEA states that a promissory note is a written promise, like an “I owe you”, to pay a specified sum of money at a fixed time or on-demand. These are commonly used in conjunction with executory contracts, where one party has fulfilled their material obligations and the other party still has some or all outstanding.
The CPA governs the application for and certification of class action proceedings.
The TSA regulates ticket sales in both primary and secondary markets. The act prohibits the use of certain software and sets out requirements for ticket service providers and suppliers.

B. Resources

A list of resources which clients might find useful:

  • Consumer Protection BC [CPBC]
Toll-free: 1-888-564-9963
Consumer Protection BC operates at arm’s length from government and has responsibility for a range of licensing, inspection, investigation, and enforcement activities. If consumer protection legislation appears to have been violated, the aggrieved party can phone CPBC to report the infraction. This office has a mandate to receive and act on consumer complaints generally.
NOTE: This is the office to contact for students (on behalf of clients) seeking action by the Director under the statutory causes of action found in consumer protection legislation.
  • Vehicle Sales Authority of British Columbia [VSA]
Telephone: (604) 574-5050
The VSA is a regulatory agency that oversees the retail sales of motor vehicles in British Columbia. This is the office to contact if a consumer believes that the MDA has been violated or has questions regarding the provisions in the MDA.
  • Better Business Bureau
Telephone: (604) 682-2711 or 1-888-803-1222
Businesses voluntarily join this association, which provides self-policing of the business community. Complaints against a member company can be made at this office, which offers an extra-judicial resolution process for conflicts between consumers and member companies. Information about a specific member company can also be obtained.
  • Dial-a-Law
Telephone: (604) 687-4680 or 1-800-565-5297
This service provides pre-recorded summaries on the law pertaining to a wide variety of issues in consumer law. Some useful tapes include:
a) Door-to-Door Sales, Time-Shares and Contracts You Can Cancel: 255
b) Shopping by Phone, Mail or the Internet: 256
c) Buying Defective Goods: 257
d) Dishonest Business Practices and Schemes: 260

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