Most Canadian consumers are unaware of a key feature of electronic payments services they commonly use that can protect them from losing their money if they don’t get what they ordered, it’s not what they ordered, or what they ordered doesn’t work.
Most Canadian consumers are unaware of a key feature of electronic payments services they commonly use that can protect them from losing their money if they don’t get what they ordered, it’s not what they ordered, or what they ordered doesn’t work, Consumers Council of Canada research has determined.
The payments service feature referred to as a “chargeback” is examined in the Council’s latest research report Consumer Redress, Chargebacks and Merchant Responses in Distant Transactions.
"Just imagine if automakers installed seat belts but few knew they owned them or how to use them," said Council President Don Mercer. "Chargebacks are a feature of payments services consumers need to learn more about. Used properly, chargebacks can protect consumers against the actions of unscrupulous or careless sellers."
A survey of 2,000 Canadians conducted online in March 2017 by Environics Research for the Council found satisfaction with online transaction dispute resolution was highest for consumers who used PayPal, and PayPal customers were most likely to cite the payment intermediary as a source of assistance that led to satisfaction. A review of websites conducted as part of the research found newer entrants to the electronic payments business, such as PayPal and Amazon, provide more information about consumer protections and how disputes are resolved than do bank issuers of credit and debit cards.
Nearly half (45 percent) of consumers surveyed had experienced a dispute in a distant transaction in the past 24 months, the survey found. The majority of such disputes are resolved satisfactorily with the merchant alone, but 29 percent of consumers have sought a reimbursement from a payment intermediary in the past two years.
About 14 percent of consumers reported that a dispute they had thought to be resolved was not resolved because of subsequent action from the merchant or a third-party debt collection service.
"Consumers should not conclude that in all cases simply getting back their money through a 'chargeback' means the end of a dispute with a seller," Mercer said. "A dissatisfied merchant may take the position a consumer still owes them money and try other ways to collect."
The 168-page report examines in detail from a consumer perspective the system of chargebacks to obtain redress for consumers, considering also the perspectives of stakeholders to that system.
Consumers Council of Canada has received funding from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s Contributions Program for Non-profit Consumer and Voluntary Organizations. The views expressed in this report are not necessarily those of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada or the Government of Canada.
Paul Bates, a member and former board member of the Consumers Council of Canada, is among seven new members of the Investor Advisory Panel of the Ontario Securities Commission effective November 2017.
Alison Knight, a lifetime member and another former board member of the Council, has been serving on the IAP and will be completing her term.
The OSC IAP's role is to advise and comment on proposed rules, policies and investor protection initiatives of the commission, while considering the views of a broad range of investors through consultation with investors and organizations representing investors.
The Consumers Council of Canada has released a letter sent to first and finance ministers, in which it joins with FAIR Canada and CARP in expressing its concern about the potential for a compromise of investor and consumer protection inherent in some proposals for the cooperative capital markets regulator.
The Consumers Council of Canada wrote a letter May 19, 2017 to the Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Canada and provincial first and finance ministers, in which it joins with FAIR Canada and CARP in expressing its concern about the risk of a compromise of investor and consumer protection inherent in some proposals being discussed for the cooperative capital markets regulator (CCMR).
The Council has raised its voice repeatedly about the need to facilitate a stronger, more capable consumer voice in internal trade harmonization initiatives of the federal and provincial government, of which CCMR is one.
The process of regulatory harmonization should not be permitted to devolve consumer protection to the lowest common denominator, and consumer representation in regulated areas of the economy should not suffer a setback as a result of these efforts. Competition and the requirement to satisfy consumers should not be lessened.
The CCMR, as currently proposed, would set aside important regulatory progress made by the Ontario Securities Commission to enhance investor protection. The OSC has been a leader in Canada in making serious changes to reduce harm to investors, which has existed for a number of years and still exists today. It has done this through the creation of an investor advisory panel, to inform its policy and rule making. It has been a proponent of addressing investor harms by introducing a best interest standard.
The Ontario securities law establishes the regulatory purpose that investors be protected from unfair and dishonest practices. It is the OSC’s position, and the Council’s, that this requires registrants to deal with investors on a best interest basis; that investors’ interests not be subordinated to the interests of any registrant — whether individual advisor or dealer.
The Consumers Council of Canada is pleased to announce the appointment of its board of directors for 2017-18 at its annual general meeting held on June 2, 2017.
And the new board of directors re-appointed the following board members to serve as the executive of the Council:
Don Mercer, President
Dennis Hogarth, Vice President
Simon Wong, Secretary
Howard Deane, Treasurer
Joining the board for for the first time is Larry Swartz. Swartz is an award-winning lawyer and CFA Charterholde. He has expertise in independent financial, regulatory compliance, pensions, corporate governance practice. He is a member of the adjunct Faculty at Osgoode Hall Law School, with an emphasis on investments and insurance, administration and risk management, contracts and drafting, restructuring and insolvency, mergers and acquisitions, negotiation and litigation, benefits and tax. His experience includes public sector, financial institutions, and international law.
Two board members from 2016-17 ended their service on the board. The Council's members and board of directors of the Council voted to express special thanks to Aubrey LeBlanc, the Council's immediate past president, for his long service on the Council's board of directors and in executive roles. LeBlanc's service reached the Council's 7-year limit for board members. The Council also thanked Paul Bates for his two terms of service on the board, during which he made several strong contributions to the Council's work.
Other members of the 2016-17 board of directors were re-elected for another one-year term.
Half of Canadian consumers say they have participated in government or utility organized programs to improve home energy efficiency and most of them were satisfied with the outcome, research by the Consumers Council of Canada found.
More than three-quarters of consumers say they favour such programs, which they most often learned about from their electrical utility bills, in-store promotions or advertising.
Delayed payment of incentives, subsequent lack of energy cost savings, and unexpected costs were the most common problems for a small share of dissatisfied program participants.
Consumers participate in these programs primarily to save money on their energy bills, and often to make a necessary home improvement. Lower income participants in home energy efficiency programs said receiving an incentive enabled them to make improvements.
“Our researchers found consumers expect to be protected within these government initiated programs, and assured of quality work,” said Council President Don Mercer. “As well, they want to choose their own contractors, with an assurance work is priced and completed properly.”
These results among others are included in the report Incenting Energy Efficient Retrofits: Risks and Opportunities for Consumers, just released by the Council.
The Council gathered consumers views through a national omnibus survey and focus groups. The survey was conducted by Oraclepoll Research Ltd. during October 2016 by telephone with 1,500 homeowners across Canada. The margin of error for the full survey was +/- 2.5%, 19/20 times.
Focus groups of consumers were held in Toronto and Montreal in December 2016. The objective was to explore trends identified by the survey, namely homeowner views about and experiences with energy efficiency retrofits that were part of government and utility incentive programs.
The report, based on the consumer survey, focus groups, a literature review and interviews with 36 expert informants, includes recommendations related to seven theme objectives:
Refine the structure of incentive programs.
Ensure the availability of balanced and truthful information for homeowners from reputable sources that is available throughout all stages of incentive program participation.
Ensure trained and qualified contractors and sub-contractors complete the work for the incentive program.
Ensure trained and qualified energy advisors complete the work for the incentive program.
Quality assurance should be part of the incentive programs.
Add warranty programs to the renovation industry.
Ensure contractors adhere to fair and ethical business practices.
Consumers Council of Canada has received funding from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s Contributions Program for Non-profit Consumer and Voluntary Organizations. The views expressed in this report are not necessarily those of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada or the Government of Canada. Download the report