Segment | The invoice | HERE Radio-Canada.ca TV
When you make a reservation at a restaurant, either over the phone or using an app, the restaurateur cannot charge you specific cancellation fees. In fact, the law does not allow him to determine the amount of his damages in advance.
Many have asked us: what is the rule for dentists, doctors, chiropractors, psychologists, optometrists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, hairdressers, beauticians?
Can these specialists charge cancellation fees if you do not show up for your appointment?
It is in fact necessary to know who is subject to the Consumer Protection Act (LPC), this law which prohibits the imposition of predetermined cancellation fees. It applies to traders.
However, professionals are not considered to be merchants within the meaning of the LPC, confirms the Consumer Protection Office to The bill.
So, unlike restaurants, professionals can actually determine in advance the amount of the costs if you cancel an appointment.
This is particularly the case for dentists, doctors, physiotherapists, psychologists, chiropractors, opticians, optometrists, notaries, acupuncturists, etc.
“It is not necessary to be a member of an order to be considered a professional, although the fact of being a member of an order indicates that it is a professional”, explains Me Marie Annik Grégoire, professor at the University of Montreal. “We will consider that a professional is a person who performs a demanding job for which serious and recognized training is necessary and who respects a code of ethics. »
The bill checked with several orders in Quebec. It is indeed their Code of ethics which determines the rules and not the LPC. However, in many cases, their Code allows these cancellation fees… as long as they are reasonable.
The massage therapists? They are not members of an order, it is true. But it could be that the Consumer Protection Act doesn’t apply to them either because… they could be considered in the eyes of the law as “artisans”, another exception.
“There is no official definition of artisan. It is the case law that has developed it, ”confirms Me Claudia Bérubé. For her course on consumerism at the Faculty of Law of the University of Sherbrooke, the lecturer also reviewed the case law on the notion of artisan. “It is first of all a natural person, therefore, who is not incorporated. So it’s not a company. And he’s someone who makes a living from his job, a job that requires manual skills. »
Mr. Bérubé notes in passing that case law has mainly been established for traditionally male trades, such as cabinetmaker. The specialist did not note any judgment concerning traditionally female occupations. But, she says, hairdressers, beauticians, massage therapists who work on their own as self-employed workers could also be considered artisans on the basis of this case law.
These craftsmen are not covered by the LPC and therefore have the right to set the amount of the penalty in advance if you do not show up for the appointment. Provided you are not a company! The two lawyers cite the examples of a hairdresser who rents a chair, or the massage therapist who practices in his basement.
On the other hand, if your hairdresser, your beautician, your massage therapist are employees of a salon, a spa, an institute, in short, a business, they are no longer considered to be craftsmen. In this case, the LPC prohibits their business from setting pre-determined cancellation fees. Like restaurants, they will have to justify the value of the damage you cause them by failing them.
Me Bérubé notes that despite everything, spas employ a particular strategy: “Often, they charge for the massage in advance and say: ‘if you don’t show up, we’ll still charge you for your massage.’ In fact, they indirectly provide for a fee. They allege that booking an appointment with you prevented them from seeing another client. Although the lawyer acknowledges that this amount will probably represent the actual damage suffered by the spa, the fact remains: such a deterrent strategy – if employed by a trade and not an artisan – is illegal under the CPA.
Journalist : Francois Sanche
research journalist : Isabelle Roberge
The professional orders do not determine the content of the cancellation fees. It is usually the trade association that does this. For example, for physicians, the provincial fee schedule of the Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec suggests that physicians bill $30 to a patient who does not show up for his appointment. In the case of dentists, it is the Association of Dental Surgeons of Quebec that will determine an amount and not the Order.
However, to have the right to impose such fees, professionals must ensure that the situation meets the guidelines indicated in the Code of Ethics. Consulted by The billthe College of Physicians, the Order of Dentists and the Order of Optometrists detail certain conditions. Among others:
- The amounts charged must be reasonable.
- When making the appointment, you must have been advised of the fees for missed appointments.
- You must also have been given the opportunity to cancel your appointment with 24 hours notice.
- The specialist is able to demonstrate that he was unable to occupy this appointment time with other professional activities (indicated in the Code of Physicians and Dentists)
- It is not a fortuitous event or force majeure causing you to be unable to attend your appointment. (indicated in the Code of Physicians and Dentists)
In the case of dispensing opticians, the Order does not provide any cancellation fee in the fee schedule. Their code of ethics obliges them to inform you of the cost and terms of any professional services required, and to obtain your agreement to do so. The Order specifies The bill that any customer can go to an eyewear store at any time during opening hours, without the need to reserve a time slot or make an appointment.
The Order of Psychologists of Quebec confirms that psychologists are allowed to demand “up to the full amount of the fees as administrative costs in the event that a client does not notify, within a reasonable time, of his absence at the meeting assigned to him. However, the psychologist must proceed by written agreement with his client to provide for this situation. »
Even if all the ethical guidelines have been respected, a patient who does not agree with the fees charged can file a complaint. For example, here are the Internet pages where to file a complaint: