September 13, 2018 5:43 pm
Updated: September 13, 2018 5:47 pm

Civil or criminal case? What to do if an online sale goes wrong

WATCH: Feel you've been wronged in an online sale? Global’s Tomasia DaSilva explains what you can do to get your money back, including going to court.


A Calgary family devastated after the puppy they thought they had purchased online was never handed over to them has shared their story as a warning to others.

“I felt pretty sad, I felt angry,” nine-year-old Tia Fuerstenberg said.

WATCH: Calgary family warns consumers after online puppy sale leaves daughter ‘heartbroken’

Tia’s mom, Robyn, says she was blindsided, especially since she put down a deposit.

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She called police, who are not investigating the case and declined to comment specifically, but did send Global News a statement.

“When there are no reasonable grounds to believe that all elements of an offence have occurred, police will not perform arrests or lay charges,” reads the statement in part. “Police do not get involved in civil property disputes, absent evidence of criminal conduct.”

Calgary lawyer Chad Newcombe says cases like these are tough, but there are things you can do, including hiring a lawyer and filing a lawsuit. However, he says it will cost you.

“As a general rule, it’s not going to be worth it to hire a lawyer,” Newcombe added. “A small claims court action is likely going to cost–from start to finish–at least $5,000.”

READ MORE: Better Business Bureau says online puppy sale scams on the rise

Newcombe says you can go it alone in small claims court, but there is a wait and you will still have to pay some money upfront.

He advises doing your research before you hand over any money and suggests if you’re going to make payments, use a credit card or payment processing company where you will have a record.

After Global News aired the Fuerstenberg family’s story, they received a refund for their deposit. While many viewers had reached out to offer the family a puppy, Robyn told Global News they have since adopted a new pet.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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