Paying a Deposit

November 24, 2013

Caution Sign

The following information is of a general nature in order to provide consumers with guidelines when making purchase decisions.

  1. Refunds & Exchanges:
    You may have returned merchandise to a store not realizing that being allowed to return or exchange merchandise is a privilege not a legal right. When you buy an item, you form a contract with the merchant. All sales are final unless otherwise specified at the time of sale.

    While many stores accept returns, they do so as a matter of store policy. In these situations, each store decides the terms and conditions under which it accepts such merchandise. For example, the store may state "Refunds provided on merchandise returned within three days only", or "No refunds, credit notes only".

    Before you buy, check the store's policy regarding the return of merchandise. It is always a good idea to ask for the policy in writing. In addition, always retain the sales slip as proof that the item was purchased from that particular store.

  2. Damaged Goods
    Stores that advertise a policy of "Satisfaction guaranteed or money refunded" should live up to their promise: They should refund your money if you have a problem with goods received in damaged condition. In cases where you received damaged goods, a warranty will cover their repair or replacement. However, if no policy of guaranteed satisfaction exists and no warranty applies, the business's only obligation is to repair the damage. If the goods cannot be repaired properly, the business is obligated to replace them. Realize that you may give up your right to have goods repaired if you accept them "as is."

  3. Goods Sold As Is
    The Sale of Goods Act provides a minimal warranty on everything sold in Alberta. This warranty does not apply, however, if the parties to the sale make other arrangements in a sales contract. Such is the case with "as is" contracts where items are sold as they are with all of their good and bad features. Used or damaged goods are often sold as is.

    When you agree to buy such goods, you accept the merchandise without any warranty protection. In this situation, however, you do have some protection under the Fair Trading Act. This Act declares it illegal for a seller to knowingly sell a defective item when the buyer is unaware of the defects or is unlikely to notice them before the sale.

  4. Deposits
    When you place a deposit on an item to have it held for you, a contract is formed between you and the seller. By making a deposit you are assured that the seller will hold the item for you; the seller is assured of a buyer. If you decide not to purchase the item, the seller is under no legal obligation to return the deposit to you. You may forfeit the deposit because the item could have been sold to someone else while you were making up your mind. If a salesperson claims that a deposit is refundable should you change your mind, ask for the claim in writing. Also, always leave as small a deposit as possible.