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(OTTAWA) An Ottawa-based consumer organization is calling for action by federal and provincial governments to curb the practice of businesses inventing separate extra charges to be paid by customers as part of the bill for services or products provided. In a report issued today, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) described circumstances in a number of industries including telecommunications, airlines and financial services where charges such as “system access fees” and “account opening charges” have proliferated.
“These charges usually represent expenses that are really just part of the cost of doing business”, Michael Janigan, PIAC Executive Director and report author stated. “There’s no reason to have them presented like they are mandatory costs passed through to customers separately”. The report notes the problems with transparency and competition that are caused by having suppliers advertising prices that are lower than the total final cost to consumers.
The report recommends an outright ban on the practice. At a minimum, consumer protection legislation should be introduced requiring any advertising or representation to include an “all-in” price that is prominently featured. Funding of the research on which this report was based was received from Industry Canada’s Contributions Program for Non-Profit Consumer and Voluntary Organizations. The views expressed in the report are not necessarily those of Industry Canada or the Government of Canada.
The Practice of Extra Charges In the Canadian Marketplace is available at www.piac.ca:
Practice of Extra Charges In the Canadian Marketplace
The Executive Summary is available here:
Executive Summary: Practice of Extra Charges in the Canadian Marketplace
For further information contact:
Executive Director and General Counsel
(613) 562-4002 ext 26