LEGAL NOTICE AUTHORIZED BY THE ONTARIO SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE AND THE SUPERIOR COURT OF QUÉBEC
If you purchased a lawn mower in Canada between January 1, 1994 and December 31, 2012, you may now make a claim for money
LAWN MOWERS CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT
In 2010, class action lawsuits were initiated in Ontario by Harrison Pensa LLP and in Québec by Consumer Law Group Inc. on behalf of all Canadians who purchased Lawn Mowers between January 1, 1994 and December 31, 2012 (the "Class Actions").
A "Lawn Mower" means a lawn mower designed, manufactured, or labelled by any of the Defendants for ultimate sale, including retail sale, in Canada, containing a gas-combustible engine labelled at 30 horsepower or less.
The Class Actions allege that the Defendants agreed to manipulate horsepower labelling on certain Lawn Mowers during the class period. The defendants deny the allegations and no manipulation of horsepower labelling has been proven in court.
Settlements have been reached with all defendants in this case totalling $7,535,000 (collectively, the "Settlements"). The Settlements have been approved by the courts in Ontario and Québec.
Pursuant to previous Orders of the courts, the deadline for class members to opt out of the lawn mowers class action was September 17, 2013. If you did not previously opt out, you are eligible to make a claim and are legally bound by the results of the Class Actions.
The settlement funds, less court-approved fees, disbursements, notice costs, and applicable taxes (the "Net Settlement Amount"), are being held in an interest-bearing trust account for the benefit of all class members.
HOW DO I MAKE A CLAIM FOR SETTLEMENT FUNDS?
All class members who wish to make a claim for compensation under the Settlements must submit a claim no later than May 22, 2019. Claims that are not made by the deadline will not be eligible for compensation.
Class members are asked to provide the best information they have regarding their Lawn Mower purchase(s). The Claims Administration rules provide for flexible evaluation of acceptable documentation. Even a declaration without further proof may qualify for cash compensation. Compensation under the Distribution Protocol increases with proof of purchase or proof of the horsepower rating of the Lawn Mower.
Claims must be submitted online through the claims portal at www.lawnmowersettlement.ca. If you are unable to make an online claim, a paper claim form can be requested.
Upstream Purchasers (retailers, wholesalers, etc. who purchased Lawn Mowers for resale) are entitled to claim a share of the settlement recoveries. 20% of the Net Settlement Amount has been allocated to an Upstream Purchasers’ Fund. Proportionate payments to eligible claimants will be made from the Upstream Purchaser Fund based on their eligible Lawn Mower purchase(s) and their corresponding horsepower ratings. For a full explanation of the calculation for Upstream Purchasers, see the Distribution Protocol.
End Users (individuals or businesses who purchased Lawn Mowers for their own use) will fall into one of the following categories based on the information they provide:
1. End Users Providing a Declaration without Further Proof – Those who provide a declaration of the basic required information regarding their Lawn Mower purchase(s) without any documentary proof will be entitled to $15 per claimant.
2. End Users Providing Proof – Those who provide proof of purchase or proof of the horsepower rating regarding their Lawn Mower(s) will receive the following, per Lawn Mower:
$15 – Any Lawn Mower with proof of purchase but without proof of horsepower rating
$20 – Any walk-behind Lawn Mower with proof of horsepower rating of under 5 horsepower
$35 – Any walk-behind Lawn Mower with proof of horsepower rating of 5 horsepower or more
$45 – Any riding Lawn Mower with proof of horsepower rating of under 18 horsepower
$55 – Any riding Lawn Mower with proof of horsepower rating of 18 horsepower or more
The amounts set out above are subject to potential proration, up or down, depending on claims rates. Under the Distribution Protocol, the Claims Administrator also has the discretion to evaluate proof for claims that reflect an exceptional circumstance.
If you have any questions about the Class Actions or the claims process, visit www.lawnmowersettlement.ca or contact the Claims Administrator or Class Counsel:
Lawn Mower Horsepower Labelling Class Action c/o RicePoint Administration Inc.
P.O. Box 4454,
Toronto Station A
25 The Esplanade
Toronto, ON M5W 4B1
A specific segment of consumers buy most of the extended product protection plans sold on major household durables, a just-released Consumers Council of Canada research report found.
The report, Consumers and Product Insurance Purchase Decisions, identifies that while type of product, its price and the cost of protection all affect the purchase decision, the minority of consumers who buy extended protection appear to have a distinct predilection to do so.
About 30 per cent of consumers have purchased extended protection on a major durable in the past three years, while more than half say they never purchase it.
"Consumers are frequently at an information disadvantage when they decide whether they need an extended warranty," said Consumers Council of Canada President Don Mercer. "Vendors have much better knowledge of the risk of product failure and repair costs than consumers.
"Also, consumers don’t do themselves any favour when they fail to read terms and conditions before they sign a contract, often presented at length and in small type that discourages reading."
Major appliances and home electronics (including phones) are the most frequently protected products. Consumers who purchased protection on one product were about three times more likely than other consumers to purchase protection on another product, the research found.
The results are based on a web panel survey conducted by Environics Research of 2,000 Canadians who had purchased a major household item in the past three years.
The report also includes a review of legislation, current industry practices and interviews with industry participants. The study aimed to evaluate consumer attitudes and behaviours towards the suite of offerings -- protection programs, extended warranties, service plans -- designed to provide additional guarantees about products beyond the manufacturer’s standard warranty.
Among the report’s other key findings:
In general, extended protections are not well understood by consumers, who misunderstand terms and conditions, neglect to read the contracts and show little appreciation of the different regulatory structures and business models associated with different products.
Most major retailers use third-party service providers, who have adopted U.S. practices to serve Canadian consumers, and do not follow the extended service model operated by Sears Canada, which resulted in a loss of protection for consumers due to its bankruptcy.
Better informed consumers are generally less likely to purchase extended protections.
About one-quarter of claims for service are resolved unsatisfactorily or with substantial consumer inconvenience.
Legislation and regulation concerning warranty and extended warranties is inconsistent among Canada’s provinces. In particular, it is not consistent province to province whether extended warranties are considered insurance .
The necessity of relying on courts for redress likely discourages some consumers from pursuing their legal rights to warranty and extended warranty claims.
The report makes numerous recommendations for public policy, consumers, merchants and third-party service providers.
"The report shows that Quebec consumers in general are more knowledgeable about extended protections," said Mercer. "That’s likely because Quebec law requires sellers to disclose information about basic warranties before offering additional warranties for sale. That’s one obvious way to better protect consumers."
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.
The Consumers Council of Canada welcomes a measure in the Fall Economic Statement signalling the government heard consumer opposition to unfair banking dispute rules: banks should not be able to choose their own referees in disputes with their customers.
The Consumers Council of Canada welcomes a measure in the federal government's Fall Economic Statement signalling the government heard consumer opposition to unfair banking dispute rules: banks should not be able to choose their own referees in disputes with their customers.
In the Fall Economic Statement, on behalf of the government, Finance Minister Bill Morneau s announced “the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada will conduct a review by June 2019 to assess banks’ complaints handling processes and the effectiveness of the external complaints bodies.”
This review follows calls from the three consumer groups to end a system that pressures external dispute resolution firms to rule in the banks' favour by forcing them to compete for banks' business.
While the Council welcomes this progress, this review must lead to a solution to provide Canadians with access to a dispute resolution provider that:
Meets international standards
Is independent and governs in the public interest
Has the authority and mandate to resolve all consumer banking complaints and the ability to identify systemic issues
Adhering to these principles requires a single, not-for-profit organization to act as the ombudsman for the retail banking sector across the country. This had been de facto the status quo in Canada until a growing group of Canada's major banks, enabled by a change of approach in federal law and regulation, stopped recognizing or funding Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments to resolve consumer disputes.
"Bank customers deserve and require access to an unbiased resolution process when they have a dispute with their bank," said Don Mercer, President of the Consumers Council of Canada "The federal government needs to protect bank customers by mandating a single impartial, non-profit external complaints body – a right that should be restored to them promptly."
To serve Canadians, this review must reform a broken external complaints system that denies Canadians access to a single non-profit, independent dispute resolution provider.
The Council, in cooperation with FAIR Canada and Canadian Association of Retired Persons, urges Canadians to share their views with theirMembers of Parliament about their experiences resolving disputes with banks and to demonstrate their support for a fair system of dispute resolution. Learn more about the initiative and how to participate.
Consumers Council of Canada has published a public discussion paper, concerning the need for single fair, independent and impartial dispute resolution provider for banking services.
Currently banks choose their own provider. The discussion paper's authors call on the federal government to take immediate action to protect Canadian consumers by changing this policy and designating the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments as the exclusive alternative dispute resolution provider for Canadian banks. In addition, the discussion paper suggests OBSI be granted statutory authority to make binding recommendations.
Points made in the paper, among others are:
Consumers are best served by a single, not-for-profit, independent dispute-resolution service such as OBSI. Conflict free and neither appointed by nor subject to consumer nor industry interests, OBSI would help re-establish and promote public confidence and trust in Canada’s financial system.
The recently announced decision by ScotiaBank to leave OBSI for ADR Banking Ombudsman, serves to undermine confidence and trust.
Scotiabank’s stated reasons for leaving OBSI do not hold up to scrutiny, and why.
A single, independent, not-for-profit service like OBSI is not only better for consumers in terms of providing the appropriate degree of objectivity and impartiality, it provides an important public service.
A strong case exists for a single, not-for-profit, independent dispute-resolution service, with that provider being OBSI.
Consumers Council of Canada has joined with two other consumer groups to call on the Government of Canada to protect banking consumers by appointing a single, not-for-profit organization to be the ombudservice for the retail banking sector across the country.
Consumers Council of Canada has joined with CARP and FAIR Canada to call on the Government of Canada to protect banking consumers by appointing a single, not-for-profit organization to act as the ombudservice for the retail banking sector across the country.
The three groups have launched a letter writing campaign to parliamentarians to call on them to act and protect consumers. Consumers can visit http://carp.ca/oneombudsand make their voices heard. Pour participer en français, allez à: http://carp.ca/unombuds
Under the current system in Canada, banks are free to pick their own referee to make sure consumers' problems are resolved in their favour. Banks get the freedom to select their external complaints body to resolve consumer complaints they can't resolve on their own. This forces external dispute resolution firms to compete for banks' business and puts pressure on them to rule in the banks' favour, so they will continue to get their business.
Consumers have no say in which provider is used to solve their problem and are forced into a situation where they must take their issue to a private, for-profit resolution provider selected by their bank.
"An ill-conceived policy is eroding the modest existing accountability to consumers for how well dispute resolution in banking functions in the country," said Don Mercer, President of the Consumers Council of Canada. "Given the recent revelations about banking sector sales practices, this state of affairs has become increasingly outrageous."
"The system as it currently stands is deeply unfair because it protects powerful banks over consumer interests," said Wanda Morris, Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer, CARP. "This effort is to put consumers, especially the vulnerable and older people, on an equal footing with the banks. Each dispute needs to be resolved fairly by a single, non-profit external body that is accountable, independent, transparent, fair, and accessible."
"We call on the Government of Canada, as part of its comprehensive review of the consumer protection framework for banking consumers, to designate the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) as the single ombudsman for banking complaints", said Marian Passmore, Director of Policy & COO of FAIR Canada.
While the Government of Canada is aware of this broken system, it will need to hear from concerned Canadians to move this up its priority list. It's up to consumers to make their voices heard and to make sure average people have access to justice.
It's time to stop protecting powerful banks and put justice for Canadian consumers first.