The difficulty of consumers making warranty claims and filing complaints – key elements of a recent Consumers Council of Canada research report – were highlighted in the May 27 national news broadcast by CBC’s The National.
CBC’s online consumer protection service Go Public featured the story of a toaster oven that caught fire and the difficulties of the appliance’s owner in getting reimbursed for damages to her kitchen. The manufacturer replaced the appliance, but the owner was told she would have to deal directly with a Chinese company to seek compensation for any damages. A video version of that story appeared on the evening flagship news program The National.
Both the online and televised stories featured the Consumer Council of Canada’s 2019 report on Super Complainers. The stories noted the frustrations consumers experience when they seek help because companies refuse to take responsibility for damages caused by goods and federal, provincial governments leave those consumers on their own to pursue their rights.
The broadcast showed an excerpt from the Council’s report, which found 68 per cent of Canadians surveyed said it was difficult to find the appropriate government or agency to file complaints about goods and services, and that most consumers see government complaint handlers as only marginally effective. The Council’s executive director Ken Whitehurst was also shown in the broadcast and quoted extensively in the online article.
The report examined the feasibility of implementing a “super-complaints” program similar to those offered in the United Kingdom. It found widespread consumer support for more inclusive and interactive consumer complaint handling systems. Declining inspections in sectors such as food safety, vehicle safety and aircraft safety were leading to “regulation without enforcment” and exposing consumers to greater risks, the Council’s report says.