On Your Side: Consumer protection questions answered
Published Monday, February 13, 2012 10:57PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, June 7, 2012 2:28PM EDT
Every week, On Your Side receives email from viewers concerning problems with particular store. We tackled a few:
1) "The bridal boutique does not want to give us back our deposit. I asked if we can purchase a wedding veil or other accessories equal to the same value as the deposit and they refused to even acknowledge it. They said they're not interested in selling us any accessories if we don't purchase the dress at their boutique. They said if we decide to buy another wedding dress, then we can use the deposit. What's my recourse?"
- Rosie Fiore
Jean-Jacques Preaux of Quebec's Consumer Protection Office said she's out of luck:
"When you're giving a deposit, it's because you don't have all the money and you want to put that good aside for you to come back later on and you'll be able to give all the money. You've got a contract at the very first time you give the deposit for that good. It's simple as that."
When in doubt, ask the store if you can use that deposit on something else – and don't feel pressured to putting down a deposit if you're not certain. Store owners are not obligated to allow an exchange.
2) "If you advertise something on sale, shouldn't you have a certain amount of quantities in your store for the consumers?"
Cardillo sought to buy a Bo-Flex Blade he saw in a Sears flyer in early January. The piece of fitness equipment was advertised at $649.99. When he called Sears the day before the sale, Cardillo was told they had none in stock, but advised him to visit his local Sears store the next day anyway.
At 8:30 the morning of the sale, Cardillo went to the Sears store at Carrefour Laval, where he said there were none.
The same item was back in the Sears flyer a week later. He called them back again and was told, a third time, that they were out of stock, and then attempted to sell him a more expensive machine.
Preaux said the Consumer Protection Act is very clear.
"On the ad, you must be able to find the quantity of the items put on sale. For example, if you have TVs on sale, and you have only 15 plasma TVs on sale, on the ad you must be able to see that only the first 15 people will be able to get one of them… There must be a number attached to that good."
If there's no quantity listed, Preaux said the customer should be provided with a rain cheque or an item of equivalent or better value at that price.
Neither of which was being offered to Cardillo.
Vincent Power of the Sears PR department in Toronto responded to the complaint:
"This is unacceptable and it should not have happened. Of course we give rain cheques! And we will make sure that the Bowflex Blaze will be available for the customer at the advertised price of $649.99."
Cardillo was pleased.
"Thank God. It's nice that someone finally answered it. That we needed the TV get us what we wanted – that's strange."