Freedom. Enjoying Nature. Discovery. Just three of the most common sentiments Ontarians expressed as their reasons for camping. Now the cynical among us may define camping as a vacation where you spend a fortune to live like a homeless person; but according to the Canadian Camping and RV Council, more than 1.8 million Ontarians have s’more fun heading to the province’s 1,144 private or provincial campgrounds every year.
Now not every camper tries to recreate the experiences of the coureurs des bois — many enjoy a side order of home comfort with their wilderness. But that doesn’t always come cheap — camping trailers and motorhomes can cost tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars. So if you’re one of those campers who’s fed up with deflated air mattresses at 3:00 a.m., or similarly-timed visits to the comfort station, and are thinking about buying an RV, it’s important to know your consumer rights. Because depending on what you buy, or whom you buy from, your rights — like your ability to back that 26 footer between those four white pines and into that beautiful lake-side campsite — may vary.
According to OMVIC, Ontario’s vehicle sales regulator, not all RV dealers require registration. This means the protections available to RV buyers aren’t always the same. “Motorhomes are considered motor vehicles so a dealer selling them must be registered with OMVIC,” explained Terry O’Keefe, OMVIC’s Director of Communications and Education. “And consumers who buy from a registered dealer are entitled to all-in price advertising and full disclosure of a vehicle’s history and condition. They also have cancellation rights for specific non-disclosures and access to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund.” But if a dealer only sells camping trailers, “There is no need for OMVIC registration as trailers are not defined as motor vehicles.” So, like boat, snowmobile and ATV buyers, a trailer buyer who encounters problems with his/ her purchase may need to look to the Consumer Protection Act administered by the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services for possible assistance.
And it’s worth noting that any consumer who buys an RV privately has NO consumer protection legislation to fall back on — when it comes to private sales, it’s buyer beware.
“Motorhomes are considered motor vehicles so a dealer selling them must be registered with OMVIC…”
RV’ers will tell you that time camping isn’t spent — it’s time invested. But if you’re considering buying an RV, time should also be invested in making your purchase decision — considering what to buy and from whom. Researching reliability, warranties and depreciation. Deciding if the RV meets current and future needs. And if it’s a trailer — ensuring your car/ truck/SUV can safely tow it.
As Ontario’s vehicle sales regulator, OMVIC advises you to educate yourself before buying any vehicle, whether it’s to help you get to work on Mondays or help you escape to that perfect, peaceful, secluded spot by the lake, kilometers away from it all, for the next long weekend.
To learn more about your car-buying, or RV-buying rights, visit OMVIC.ca.