Consumer FAQs

The Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) has compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding marketing in Canada. If you cannot find the answer to your question in our list, please check out 'Other Resources' for other agencies and organizations that assist consumers.

General Marketing

How can I find out if a company is legitimate?

You can search for the organization in CMA's online membership directory. If the organization in question is a CMA member they have agreed to comply with our Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, which calls for respect for consumer privacy, making customer service a priority and participation in Operation Integrity, our consumer complaint resolution program and the CMA Do Not Mail Service. However, if the organization is not listed as a member of our Association, that does not mean they are not legitimate.

Is it safe to buy something from the Internet?

You should always take certain precautions when deciding whether or not to give credit card information to any organization, whether on the Internet, by telephone or in a store. The main rule of thumb is:

  • know the organization you are dealing with;
  • always ensure that you are in a secure environment;
  • on the Internet look for an "unbroken key" or a "closed padlock" icon on your browser to ensure security; and
  • look for the CMA member logo or other "seals of approval."

More tips for shopping with confidence.

When an organization buys a list, how often can they use it?

Terms for list use vary, although a list is usually rented for one time use only. But, if you purchase a product or service from an organization who has used a rented list, you become their customer as well and they now have the right to add you to their in-house mailing list.

If I order something from a catalogue do I have to pay for it before I get my merchandise?

Yes, usually goods have to be paid for before a company will ship them, except in Quebec, where goods are shipped prior to payment. However, a company either in or outside of Quebec can request exemption from this law.

Marketing Lists

How did my name/phone number get on a marketing list?

Lists of names and addresses are routinely compiled by marketers from countless resources.

  • answering a marketing offer
  • giving to a charity
  • magazine subscription
  • phone number listed in telephone directory
  • answered a survey
  • public records: if you own a house, car, boat, land; marriages, births, divorces

How do I get my name off mailing lists?

The Canadian Marketing Association operates a Do Not Mail Service which is free to consumers. The Association itself does not own, compile, prepare or rent lists of consumers' names or addresses or do consumer mailings. The name, address and postal code of persons who register for the CMA Do Not Mail Service are distributed monthly to Association members and other business subscribers who must delete them from their mailing. Names are maintained on the service for six years.

Registrants typically notice a significant decrease in addressed advertising mail volume approximately six weeks after their names are registered with the service.

Can I request deletion from specific lists through the Do Not Mail Service?

No. Address removal through the Do Not Mail Service is comprehensive in nature. Consumers may reduce the number of mail pieces or marketing calls they receive from a specific company by writing directly to the company to request address and telephone number removal or by requesting number removal at the time a telemarketing call is received.

Telemarketing

I keep getting these telemarketing calls but when I answer no one is on the other end. Why does this happen?

These calls are often the result of something called "predictive dialling." Some businesses use automotive diallers to place telephone calls and send faxes. When a call is placed and answered before a telemarketing representative is available, a 'dead air' or 'hang up' call will occur. Generally, enough time is given to allow the telemarketing representative to finish one call before moving onto the next, however, if the telemarketing representative is on the phone longer than expected, 'dead air' or a 'hang up' will occur.

What rules and restrictions apply to telemarketers?

Restrictions apply to all telemarketers, although they may differ depending on whether they use a fax or a telephone. As a minimum requirement, telemarketers must maintain in-house Do Not Call/Fax lists and provide customers with a fax or telephone number where a responsible person can be reached.

Additional restrictions set out by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

CMA places further restrictions on telemarketing for member companies. View CMA's Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

Other Resources

Canadian Competition Bureau
Industry Canada
Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
Consumers' Association of Canada
Consumers Council of Canada
Industry Canada - Office of Consumer Affairs
Media Awareness Network
Phone Busters
Provincial Consumer Ministries
Provincial Information and Privacy Commissioners

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