Misleading Advertising and Labelling

The misleading advertising and labelling provisions enforced by the Competition Bureau prohibit making any deceptive representations for the purpose of promoting a product or a business interest, and encourage the provision of sufficient information to allow consumers to make informed choices.

The false or misleading representations and deceptive marketing practices provisions of the Competition Act contain a general prohibition against materially false or misleading representations. They also prohibit making performance representations which are not based on adequate and proper tests, misleading warranties and guarantees, false or misleading ordinary selling price representations, untrue, misleading or unauthorized use of tests and testimonials, bait and switch selling, double ticketing and the sale of a product above its advertised price. Further, the promotional contest provisions prohibit contests that do not disclose required information.

The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, Textile Labelling Act and Precious Metals Marking Act all contain prohibitions regarding false or misleading representations. They also require certain labelling or marking information aimed at assisting consumers in making informed purchasing decisions.

False or misleading representations

The Competition Act provides criminal and civil regimes to address false or misleading representations. Under both regimes, the Act prohibits the making, or the permitting of the making, of a representation to the public, in any form whatever, that is false or misleading in a material respect.

For more information

Visit our False or Misleading Representations and Deceptive Marketing Practices pamphlet for more useful information.

Canada's Anti-Spam Law

False or misleading ordinary selling price representations

The false or misleading ordinary selling price provisions of the Competition Act are designed to ensure that when products are promoted at sale prices, consumers are not misled by reference to inflated regular prices.

The Act prohibits false or misleading representations to the public as to the ordinary selling price of a product, in any form whatsoever. Ordinary selling price is validated in one of two ways: either a substantial volume of the product was sold at that price or higher, within a reasonable amount of time (volume test); or the product was offered for sale, in good faith, for a substantial period of time at that price or a higher price (time test).

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Performance representations not based on adequate and proper tests

Businesses should not make any performance claims unless they can back them up. The Competition Act prohibits any representation in the form of a statement, warranty or guarantee of the performance, efficacy or length of life of any given product, not based on adequate and proper testing. The onus is on advertisers to prove that the representation is based on an adequate and proper test. The test must have been concluded before the representation is made and the data must be readily available upon request by the Bureau.

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Sale above advertised price

The Competition Act prohibits the sale or rent of a product at a price higher than its advertised price. The provision does not apply if the advertised price was a mistake and the error was immediately corrected.

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Scanner Price Accuracy Code

There is no federal legislation governing price-scanning accuracy. However, some types of price representations that result in overcharges to consumers may be examined under the Competition Act. The Bureau also endorses the Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code, which provides participating retailers of four major associations with a mechanism to provide redress to consumers when there is a scanner error. When the scanned price of an item without a price tag is higher than the shelf price, or any other displayed price, the customer is entitled to receive the item free when it is worth less than $10, or receive a $10 reduction for more expensive items.

For more information

Visit the Scanner Price Accuracy Code pamphlet for more useful information.

Bait and switch selling

The Competition Act prohibits "bait-and-switch" selling which occurs when a product is advertised at a bargain price, but is not available for sale in reasonable quantities. The provision does not apply if the advertiser can establish that the non-availability of the product was due to circumstances beyond its control, the quantity of the product obtained was reasonable, or the customer was offered a rain check when supplies were exhausted.

For more information

Visit our Bait and switch selling pamphlet for more useful information.

Double ticketing

The Competition Act prohibits the supply of a product at a price that exceeds the lowest of two or more prices clearly expressed in respect of the product.

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Promotional contests

The Competition Act prohibits any promotional contest that does not disclose the number and approximate value of prizes, the area or areas to which they relate and any important information relating to the chances of winning, such as the odds of winning.

For more information

Visit our Promotional contests pamphlet for more useful information.

Misleading warranties and guarantees

The Competition Act prohibits any representation that purports to be a warranty or guarantee of a product, or a promise to replace, maintain or repair an article, or any part of an article, where it is materially misleading or where there is no reasonable prospect that the warranty, guarantee or promise will be carried out.

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Untrue, misleading or unauthorized use of tests and testimonials

The Competition Act prohibits the unauthorized use of tests and testimonials, or the distortion of authorized tests and testimonials. The provision also prohibits a person from allowing such representations to be made to the public.

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Labelling

The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, Precious Metals Marking Act and Textile Labelling Act are regulatory statutes. They prohibit false or misleading representations in specific sectors, namely pre-packaged consumer products, articles made of precious metals, and textiles and apparel. These laws set out requirements for basic, standardized labelling information, such as bilingual product descriptions, metric measurement declarations and dealer identity, all of which help consumers to make informed choices.

Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act

The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act prohibits false or misleading representations on prepackaged consumer products and requires that these products bear accurate and meaningful labelling information to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. The Act also sets out specifications for mandatory label information such as the product's name, net quantity and dealer identity.

For more information

Visit our Guide to the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations.

Textile Labelling Act

The Textile Labelling Act prohibits false and misleading representations on consumer textile articles and requires that these articles bear accurate and meaningful labelling information to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. The Act also sets out specifications for mandatory label information such as the generic name of each fibre present and the dealer's full name and postal address or a CA identification number.

For more information

Visit our Guide to the Textile Labelling and Advertising Regulations.

Precious Metals Marking Act

The Precious Metals Marking Act prohibits false or misleading representations related to precious metal articles (articles made with gold, silver, platinum or palladium) and provides for the uniform description and quality marking of these articles to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. It also requires that dealers who choose to mark their articles with representations related to the precious metal quality, do so as prescribed by the Act and the Regulations.

Visit our Guide to the Precious Metals Marking Act and Regulations

Visit our Precious Metals pamphlet for more useful information.

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