A CBC News report on the problems consumers can face when there are problems with the delivery of their online orders included the expertise of Consumers Council of Canada Executive Director Ken Whitehurst.
The CBC report was featured on the November 15 The National broadcast, and an expanded version was posted on its web site. The story examines two examples of disputed delivery of online orders. In one, part of a $1,800 drum kit ordered online was not delivered, and the merchant told the customer to take up the issue with the delivery firm. In another, a customer was told that he had signed for a purchase that he had never received – and the customer had to show video footage to show the package was never delivered.
Whitehurst noted that companies may add policies to agreements that do not comply with consumer protection laws and that buyers may think incorrectly that merchant contracts are legal. Other experts quoted in the story note that consumers are generally protected by provincial consumer protection laws when ordered items do not arrive within 30 days. However, they may need to rely on small claims courts to enforce their rights, and that this process can be complicated and intimidating.
The CBC report notes that online sales have nearly doubled between February and August, according to figures provided by Statistics Canada.
Whitehurst also recommended that consumers use credit cards for online purchases, because many transactions that involved undelivered items should be covered by card issuers’ chargeback policies.
Consumers Council of Canada’s recent report on consumer redress in distant transactions found most consumers are unaware of the protection available through chargebacks, largely because card issuers (banks) do not inform consumers of this protection.