CBC’s flagship consumer protection program Marketplace will air an episode on the growing problem of counterfeit goods – a topic that was the focus of recent Consumers Council of Canada research.
The Friday, February 21, episode Counterfeit Crackdown is designed to help consumers spot the difference between real and fake goods. The program’s teaser also adds: “And we ask: who’s protecting you from buying counterfeit and sometimes dangerous products online?”
Consumers Council's report Consumer Attitudes and Their Role in Reducing the Impact of Counterfeit and Pirated Goods and Services examined this issue in-depth and concluded that consumers find it difficult to identify the perils of buying counterfeit goods and pirated media. The research included a 2,000 person national web survey, and 95% of respondents were “unaware of government or business programs to curb the proliferation of counterfeit goods and pirated digital content.”
The report also found that consumers doubt many of the established facts about the size and economic impact of counterfeit and pirated goods. Consumers are also generally not aware of where they can report counterfeit operations and sales, yet survey and focus group respondents expressed a willingness to report such activities.
Lots of options exist for consumers to report problem goods and services, in fact. But the rewards of reporting by the individual consumer often amount to little more than satisfaction, and can be complex and time consuming, even expensive. To obtain redress, Canadian consumers are commonly on their own, as demonstrated by The Complaint Roadmap page of the Office of Consumer Affairs, Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada.
A second 2019 Consumers Council research report, Super Complainers: Greater Public Inclusiveness in Government Consumer Complaint Handling noted the trend of Canadian regulators to reduce or even withdraw from pro-active inspections. In that report’s survey of 2,000 Canadian consumers, public confidence was low (84%) that government complaint handling would be helpful in distant transactions.
However, consumers can report product and services fraud that involve dangerous or misrepresented products, using the complaints processes of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Competition Bureau of Canada, Transport Canada, Health Canada and their provincial consumer protection offices.
After broadcast, the CBC Marketplace episode is expected to be available for viewing here.