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Current Research

Consumer Attitudes and Their Role in Reducing the Impact of Counterfeit and Pirated Goods and Services

Counterfeiting and piracy impacts middle class jobs, new innovations and consumer health and safety. Experts forecast that if current trends continue, the total value globally of "counterfeit" goods by 2022 will reach at least $991 billion. This does not take into account the economic, social, environmental, and consumer costs which are borne by business, government and consumers. The research will look at the quality and safety assumptions consumers have about consumer goods, what they expect the government’s and industry's role to be, and what they think they need as tools to protect themselves in an environment that is difficult to police.

Unit Pricing: Time for a National Approach?

The widespread introduction of unit pricing labelling practices in most advanced globalized economies took place over 40 years ago, yet the majority of Canadian consumers still do not have access to reliable unit pricing information to assist them in making informed decisions. Quebec is the only province in Canada that regulates unit pricing. Retailers in other provinces and territories provide unit pricing information on a voluntary basis, or not at all. The research will seek out consumer and government views on the value of unit pricing as a factor in promoting consumer interests, gauge receptivity to adopting national systems such as those being implemented in other countries, and discuss the challenges and barriers to adopting similar systems in Canada.

Super Complainers: Greater Public Inclusiveness in Government Consumer Complaint Handling

A primary source of information for market conduct reviews and enforcement investigations is regulators’ consumer complaint data. Regulators rely on consumer complaint data to identify business practices, unusual trends and sector -- or industry-wide -- patterns that warrant investigation. Yet regulators tend to pay little regard to consumers and the detriment they experience once the complaint is filed. Trends are appearing in the U.S. and Europe where governments provide greater transparency of their consumer complaint databases, to give consumers and consumer advocacy groups a greater role in the complaints management processes. For example, in 2002, a "super-complaints" system was established in the UK government by the then Office of Fair Trade (now the Competition & Markets Authority). This system allows a designated consumer body to submit a complaint that "...any feature, or combination of features, of a market in the UK for goods or services is or appears to be significantly harming the interests of consumers".This research proposal seeks to reveal consumer and government views on the current government complaint handling systems, gauge receptivity to alternative systems being implemented in other countries where greater transparency, consumer and consumer advocacy group participation is encouraged, and discuss the challenges and barriers to adopting similar alternative systems in Canada.

Home Energy Labels in Canada: How Well Do They Serve Consumers?

This research is examining how consumers understand home energy labels and whether they want further information that is not currently available on these labels, in order to make informed home purchasing, renovating and upgrading decisions. The objective of the research would be to identify ways to strengthen the usefulness of energy labels for consumers. This research is intended to clarify the functionality and impact of home energy labels on consumer purchasing decisions.

Consumers Council of Canada has received funding from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada's Contributions Program for Non-profit Consumer and Voluntary Organizations for the aforementioned research. The views ultimately expressed in the final reports of this research will not necessarily be those of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada or of the Government of Canada.

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