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A Consumer's Perspective to Fixing ICBC
(August 30, 2013) When the BC Liberals entered of!ce in 2001 motorists were led to believe that they would get a smoother ride with automobile insurance despite the reality that ICBC was entering a sixth year with no rate increases on basic or optional insurance, and had just repaid BC motorists with a Road Safety Dividend of $100 per policyholder. In reality, motorists were blindfolded, gagged and locked in the trunk of the Liberal vehicle – all the while paying more than they should for their ride. more...
Poll Shows Consumers Support Competition Tribunal Decision
(August 26, 2013) (OTTAWA): The Consumers Association of Canada (CAC) released new polling today that shows consumers overwhelmingly support the decision of the Competition Tribunal to reject a challenge of rules put in place by MasterCard and Visa to protect consumers.
The challenge was launched by the Competition Bureau and was supported by merchant lobby organizations, who falsely claimed to be representing consumer interests in their effort to impose surcharges on credit card purchases and to obtain the ability to reject certain MasterCard and Visa cards while accepting others.
“Merchants do not speak for consumers. We have our own voice and our polling clearly shows it is time for merchants to accept the Tribunal ruling and drop their campaign to impose
anti-consumer policies on Canadians,” stated Bruce Cran, President. ... more...
Memo to merchant associations: Please stop trying to protect us!
(August 1, 2013) It is with considerable frustration that the Consumers’ Association of Canada keeps hearing merchant associations claim they are acting in the consumer interest in pursuing changes to Canada’s credit card system. To set the record straight, consumers have not – and are not – seeking any changes to an acceptance system that has served them well. more...
New Mailing Address
December 7, 2011
Consumers Association of Canada
PO Box 18087 RPO
Delta, BC V4L 2M4
CAC President, Bruce Cran, congratulates Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq, in Vancouver on the release of Health Canada’s “Kids Safety” Website
(click on the picture to enlarge)
Who Wants Surcharging? Not Consumers!
Research shows 90% of Canadians oppose surcharging
December 17, 2010
Responding to media reports suggesting Canada’s merchant lobbyists are seeking to impose surcharges on Canadian consumers when they pay by credit card, and have lobbied the Competition Bureau for the right to do so, the Consumers Association of Canada (CAC) today released the results of a survey that found 90% of Canadians oppose credit card surcharging.
"The results speak for themselves. Canadians are overwhelmingly opposed to the suggestion that they should have to pay merchants for the privilege of paying them," stated Bruce Cran, President of the CAC.
The CAC research was conducted in November 2009 as the Minister of Finance was developing the Code of Conduct for the Credit and Debit Card Industry in Canada. It found 75% of Canadians are strongly opposed to surcharging, with another 15% moderately opposed. The survey also found 83% of Canadians would be very likely to change where they shop if a merchant implemented surcharging. The survey results can be found on the CAC website at CAC Surcharge Survey - Final Report
"The Minister of Finance made the right choice when he did not bow to merchant lobby pressure to allow surcharging. It is unfortunate that the merchants are now trying to reopen that debate. Given the survey results, the merchants should be careful what they wish for," added Cran.
The CAC is also frustrated that merchant associations continue to argue that discounting for cash or debit, which is allowed, is too complicated.
"How can a merchant complain that discounting at the checkout if a consumer pays with cash or debit is too complicated to implement, but then turn around and embrace surcharging? Both are simple functions. The difference is that surcharging is a potential new profit centre for merchants," stated Cran.
In fact a recent study by the Australian consumer group Choice found that some merchants in that country, where surcharging is allowed, have embraced it as a new revenue stream. For example, one airline in Australia imposes an extra surcharge of up to $30 per ticket when you pay by credit card.
For more information contact:
Bruce Cran 604 418 8359
Consumers Association seeks answers on cancellation of Canada-Iceland open skies agreement
October 10, 2010
The Consumers Association of Canada (CAC) is seeking an explanation from Transport Canada for the apparent cancellation of an open skies agreement with Iceland. According to published articles earlier this month, Icelandair has been forced to cancel planned flights to Toronto as a result.
"Open skies agreements are critical to competition for international air travel. The open skies agreement with Iceland provided consumers with a cost-effective option for travel to Europe and a counterbalance to the dominance of Air Canada and the Star Alliance for this trans-Atlantic traffic," stated Bruce Cran, President.
The CAC is seeking answers from Transport Canada to the following questions:
"As recently as a September 24th Transport Canada press release, Canada was boasting of its open skies agreement with Iceland. When did this end and why was it not reported by Transport Canada?" asked Cran.
- Why did Transport Canada cancel the Canada-Iceland open skies agreement?
- Who lobbied for an end to the Canada-Iceland open skies agreement?
- What rationale did Transport Canada use to justify this cancellation?
- Who does Transport Canada believe will benefit from this cancellation?
- Were consumer interests taken into account in cancelling this open skies agreement?
The CAC has repeatedly asked to be consulted on Canada’s approach to open skies, but to date have not been invited to be part of the process.
"The cancellation of these flights will affect competition. Therefore, consumers have a right to know what changed, why and whether consumer interests were taken into account in making this decision," added Cran.
For further information contact:
Bruce Cran, 604 418 8359
Statement by the Consumers Association of Canada Regarding the Competition Bureau's Challenge of Visa and MasterCard
Consumers will be the big losers under the Competition Bureau's plan
Bruce Cran, President of the Consumers Association of Canada, has made the following statement in response to today's decision of the Competition Bureau to challenge two rules of Visa and MasterCard:
"The Consumers Association of Canada is extremely disappointed in today's decision by the Competition Bureau to challenge two critical consumer protection measures. This is a disappointing day for Canadian consumers. The Competition Bureau appears to have abandoned our interests in favour of the well-organized merchant lobby.
Allowing merchants to surcharge on credit card purchases will expose consumers to potentially predatory practices by merchants. For example, in Australia where surcharging was forced by the regulator, the result has been extremely negative for consumers. A recent report by the Australian consumer group Choice showed that consumers are now facing surcharges of up to 10% in some cases. The report also found that some merchants have embraced surcharges as a new revenue stream. The report highlighted that surcharging was most prevalent in situations where paying by credit card is a necessity. For example, Australia's largest domestic airline now imposes surcharges as high as $30.00 per ticket.
If the threat of facing surcharges is not bad enough, the Bureau apparently now wants to take away the honour all cards rule. This will create chaos in the marketplace for consumers because they will no longer have any guarantee that their credit card will be accepted when they get to the check-out counter. If a merchant advertises that they accept a Visa credit card they should have to accept any Visa credit card that a consumer carries. Allowing merchants to decline individual consumers' cards would create confusion and frustration for consumers.
Merchants across Canada have been instrumental in driving consumers to use electronic payments - and in many cases offer no other alternative - and now they want consumers to pay extra to do so and/or dictate which particular Visa or MasterCard credit card is acceptable to them."
For more information:
Bruce Cran, President
Consumers Association of Canada
Letter to Minister Strahl
click here for pdf version
October 20, 2010
The Honourable Chuck Strahl, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
330 Sparks Street
I am writing to you on a matter of importance to Canadian consumers, namely Canada’s policies and agreements on Open Skies. On October 11, 2010 Icelandair issued a news release stating that:
Icelandair is revising its 2011 summer schedule in Canada as a result of the latest air service agreement between the Icelandic and Canadian governments which now restricts the number of flights permitted between Iceland and Canada.
The Open Skies Agreement with Iceland provided consumers with a cost-effective option for travel to Europe and a counterbalance to the dominance of Air Canada and the Star
Alliance for this trans-Atlantic traffic.
I am writing to you today to seek a clarification with respect to the Canada-Iceland Air Service Agreement. Specifically I would appreciate clarification on the following issues:
Did Transport Canada recently amend or cancel the Canada-Iceland Open Skies Agreement? As recently as September 24, 2010 a Transport Canada press release referred to the Canada-Iceland Air Service Agreement as an "open skies-type agreement".
What changes were made to the Canada-Iceland Air Services Agreement?
Was the Canada-Iceland Air Services Agreement recently amended to reduce the number of allowable flights between Canada and Iceland?
If changes were made to the Agreement what rationale did Transport Canada use to justify the reduction in the number of allowable flights?
If changes were made to the Agreement who does Transport Canada believe will benefit from these changes?
Were consumer interests taken into account in changing the Agreement from an Open Skies Agreement?
The Consumers' Association of Canada is committed to policies and agreements that promote choice, convenience and price competition for international and domestic air travel. I look forward to your response.
Letter on Open Skies etc.
March 29, 2010
I was heartened to see that Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu discovered Vancouver this week, dropping down from on high to speak to the Board of Trade. What did Mr. Rovinescu focus on? More routes? New employment? Lower fares? A passenger bill of rights? Hardly. He set those issues aside to launch a blistering attack on airline competition.
Consumers, and most certainly governments, should be extremely skeptical when the dominant provider of any service in any market launches a vociferous plea for even greater protection than it already enjoys.
What has irked Mr. Rovinescu? It seems a proposal from Emirates Airline to fly once daily to Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary is too much competition for Air Canada to bear, even though Air Canada offers hundreds of international flights every day.
Mr. Rovinescu claims that Emirates wants to fly people through a hub in Dubai to transit onwards to other destinations in the Middle East, Asia or Africa. God forbid Air Canada face competition on its model of forcing consumers who want to travel to those destinations to go through Frankfurt and fly onwards with its Star Alliance partner Lufthansa.
As Canada’s leading association representing consumers, we have been heartened by the Prime Minister’s consistent defence of open markets and his condemnation of protectionism. We are troubled, therefore, that the Prime Minister’s lead is not being followed by Transport Canada, which seems to believe that protecting Air Canada and the Star Alliance is its top job.
Transport Canada has repeatedly blocked efforts by Emirates and other major airlines from gaining access to the Canadian market – even on routes that Canadian carriers do not fly.
In explaining its position for denying Emirates’ request for greater access, Transport Canada recently stated: “There is no shortage of seats to meet the demand.” Air Canada echoed those sentiments in its speech to the Board of Trade.
We believe that consumers, not Transport Canada or Air Canada, should determine which airline Canadians should fly to an international destination. The market will decide the winners and losers. We have written Transport Minister John Baird regarding our concerns, most recently on June 12, 2009, and have yet to receive a response.
Air Canada does not fly to Dubai or any points in the Middle East, Africa or India, to name a few – but Canadians are being told by Transport Canada that they are obliged to fly Air Canada through Frankfurt or London regardless of the price, service or connection time. What is the policy rationale? Why is it in the interests of the Canadian economy and Canadian consumers to protect these airlines from competition?
When industry interests like Mr. Rovinescu demand protectionist barriers it is ultimately Canadian consumers who are the victims. They are forced onto flights no matter how inconvenient or costly when they are travelling to destinations Air Canada chooses not to serve directly.
It is time for a change of thinking at Transport Canada. Consider that Transport Canada has never consulted the Consumers Association to ask for our views on air liberalization. As a representative of the travelling public, our views ought to be at least as important as those of airlines, airports or any other stakeholder.
The Prime Minister’s position on free trade and the dangers of protectionism stems from his clear belief that open markets are best for the economy, which in turn is best for consumers. It is now passed time to extend this policy to air travel and open skies, allowing Canadians to choose where they want to fly, with which carrier, and at what price.
Air Canada and Mr. Rovinescu will bully and threaten and bluster, as they do on every issue, but allowing more competition is the right thing to do. Consumers deserve the lower fares and better travel options that will follow.
Consumers Association of Canada