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Five ways to be a smarter consumer

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Ontario is providing families with five simple tips to help them become smarter consumers, shop wisely, and protect their hard-earned money in the New Year.

Simple tips to guide consumers as we move into 2012 include:

•Choose carefully

Consumers only should deal with businesses they trust. For major purchases, always shop around for the best price.

For home improvement projects, get at least three estimates from three reputable companies.

•Slam the door on pressure tactics

When a salesperson comes calling, don’t feel pressured to rush and sign a contract to take advantage of a so-called deal.

Take the time to fully understand what’s being offered.

•Read the fine print

If the purchase involves a contract, always read it carefully to be sure it includes important information such as the total cost, terms of payment, and start and finish dates.

•Keep a lid on deposits

Consumers should not pay more than a 10 percent deposit on any goods or services once a contract has been signed.

•Know your rights

Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act, 2002 gives consumers the right to cancel certain contracts within 10 days of receiving a written copy of the agreement.

Helping Ontario consumers make informed choices is part of the McGuinty government’s commitment to inform, protect, and serve Ontarians by ensuring a fair and safe marketplace.

“We want to help families get the best value for their money,” said Consumer Services minister Margarett Best.

“We want people to know more about their consumer rights so they can shop with confidence,” she added.

Consumers can cancel a contract and get a full refund if the goods or services they purchased are not delivered within 30 days of the date promised.

As well, anyone providing goods or services on credit must give the consumer a written statement showing all financing charges and the annual percentage rate of the credit transaction.

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