Rogers Communications' advertising wet dream

 Rogers' Chatr advertising campaign claimed "fewer dropped calls than new wireless carriers"with no "adequate and proper" tests ofhow well the discount service worked. 
This week in consumer protection news PIAC executive director Michael Janigan slams Rogers Communications advertising standards, agences de créditElections Ontario advises hundreds of thousands to keep an eye on bank statements after data leaks, US flight price comparisons, tighter US rules on web sites for children and more.

J. Goss + Associates provides media intelligence services to a number of leading consumer groups. For results contact J. Goss + Associates.

Rogers taking on Competition Bureau, Truth in advertising or free speech

Sarah Schmidt, Postmedia News, Aug. 6 2012
"At its root, the case effectively advances the proposition that companies that advertise shouldn't be forced to actually have the facts and evidence on hand before they make a claim and it somehow devalues public discourse if they are forced to do so. With all due respect to that position, it sounds a bit like a Madison Avenue wet dream," said Janigan, a reference to New York City's iconic street that housed most ad agencies in the industry's early years. In a statement, Rogers countered that its beef with the Competition Act is a narrow one. 

"We're committed to truth in advertising and support legislation that prevents false claims and protects consumers, including the Competition Act. We're not challenging that fundamental principle. We're raising two specific, narrow concerns with the act as it now stands," spokeswoman Patricia Trott said."  Sarah Schmidt, Postmedia News, Aug 6 2012

The Competition Bureau of Canada reports: "In the November 2010 application, the Commissioner has asked the Court to order Rogers to:
--  stop the advertising campaign and refrain from engaging in similar campaigns for a 10-year period;
--  pay restitution to affected customers;
--  pay an administrative monetary penalty of $10 million; and
--  issue a corrective notice to inform the general public about the nature  and provisions of the order issued against them.
The campaign was dismantled within a month of the Bureau filing its application."

Hydro-Québec veut dévoiler les comptes aux agences de crédit

Stéphanie Grammond, La Presse - 08-03-2012
Afin de réduire ses mauvaises créances, Hydro-Québec veut transmettre toute l'information sur les habitudes de paiement de ses clients aux agences de crédit. …. Mais Option consommateurs estime qu'Hydro-Québec a déjà assez d'outils dans son coffre. «Ils peuvent exiger un dépôt d'un client. Ils peuvent aussi couper l'électricité durant huit mois de l'année. C'est la menace ultime!» s'exclame l'avocate Dominique Gervais.

Elle pense que cette nouvelle mesure ne ferait que fragiliser davantage les ménages à faible revenu qui ont déjà du mal à payer leurs comptes. «Un mauvais dossier de crédit a des impacts qui vont bien au-delà du crédit. Il y a des assureurs qui s'en servent, des employeurs, des propriétaires de logements», énumère-t-elle.  Stéphanie Grammond, La Presse - 08-03-2012 

Premiers should ignore bankers and proceed with CPP expansion

Canadian Labour Congress, 2 August 2012
The Canadian Bankers Association has written provincial premiers, urging them to implement the federal government's Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs) in order to help Canadians save for retirement. That’s rich: for years, Canadian banks have raked in millions of dollars in high fees on the $800 billion Canadians have invested in mutual funds. Canadian mutual funds carry among the highest management fees in the world, charges that can easily wipe out half of an individual's retirement savings. Now banks eagerly await PRPPs, knowing the federal government will not cap fees, but simply require that fees be in line with the high prices that banks and insurance companies now charge for administering pension plans! Canadian Labour Congress, 2 August 2012.

New Regulations Give Consumers More Control-and Quicker Access to Their Money

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, August 01, 2012
Regulations that come into force today mean that people who deposit a cheque in person with a federally regulated financial institution can get the first $100 in cash right away. If the cheque is $100 or less, the financial institution must provide the full amount to consumers. If the cheque is deposited in an automated bank machine, these funds will be made available the next business day. The maximum hold time for the remainder of the cheque funds will be reduced. Another regulation requires federally regulated financial institutions to obtain consent before charging their customers for a new optional product or service, such as optional insurance coverage on a loan or credit card, or overdraft protection. The new rules are set out in the Access to Funds Regulations, as well as in the Negative Option Billing Regulations developed by the Department of Finance. Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, August 01, 2012

Investment company investigated by IIROC

Brenda Shanahan, Montreal Gazette July 31, 2012 
Q: In late 2006, I transferred my RRSP and LIRA accounts from my bank to a specialty investment management firm in Toronto on the advice of a close friend. I filled out all the forms saying I wanted low to medium risk investments because while I wanted more than what I was getting on GICs, I did not want to get into anything too risky. My money, about $300,000, was invested in stocks that I never heard of, but I thought my adviser knew what he was doing. Since then, I have lost over $50,000 but my adviser kept telling me to “stay the course.” I have just learned that this firm has been investigated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) for putting clients into risky investments. What recourse do I have to get my money back? 

A. … In an ideal world, the firm will recognize the validity of your complaint and make a mutually acceptable settlement with you – but more likely they will ignore your letter or claim you have no grounds for restitution. Your recourse after 90 days of an unsatisfactory response is to file an official complaint with one or more of the industry’s watchdog agencies. I would recommend you go first to the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI), a free independent service for resolving disputes involving member firms. The OBSI can suggest compensation up to $350,000, but the firm is not obliged to accept the OBSI findings. You can contact the OBSI at 1-888-451-4519 or at for more information. Since IIROC has already investigated your firm for wrongdoing, this may be a viable option for you to pursue. IIROC uses an arbitration process in which final decisions are binding meaning you cannot appeal their verdict through the courts. Arbitration fees can be a few thousand dollars or more depending on the complexity of the case, and compensation can be as high as $500,000. Brenda Shanahan, Montreal Gazette July 31, 2012 

Flight price comparison fight ramps up

Bart Jansen, USA Today, July 31
Everyone involved in air travel — online travel agents, federal transportation officials, consumer advocates and airlines — claims to want to give passengers more information about prices for options such as meals and seat assignments while buying tickets. But a fight has broken out among them as the Department of Transportation develops a rule that could force airlines to provide all those choices to travel agents so they could make it easier to compare the total price of flights among airlines. Airlines contend they provide the fees on their own websites and can spread the information more broadly through specific deals such as the one Delta Air Lines has to market seats with extra legroom on its two-class aircraft. Bart Jansen, USA Today, July 31

Is the Competition Bureau Ready To Take On Media Convergence?

Michael Geist, Toronto Star, Aug 5 2012 
While it may already be too late, the proposed $3 billion Bell Media - Astral merger may represent the final opportunity to address mounting concerns over the competitive impact of a converged market. The new Bell Media - Astral entity will control approximately 45 per cent of the commercial radio market in Canada along with a dizzying array of television stations, specialty television channels, as well as wireless, satellite, and Internet services. Toronto Star, Aug 5 2012 

Funding proposal for NorthwesTel's "modernization plan" is flawed

Canada Newswire, Aug. 2, 2012 
NorthwesTel's attempt to funnel $40-million from its parent company Bell Canada to build infrastructure should be rejected by the federal regulator but if allowed the money should be available to all phone companies building infrastructure and innovation in the North. "We are opposed to the so-called 'public benefits' money being used in this manner, but if allowed then competitors should have fair access to this money to improve telecommunications and the competitive marketplace in the North," said Samer Bishay, president of both Ice Wireless and Iristel, two Canadian companies partnering to knock down the last telecom monopoly walls in North America. Canada Newswire, Aug 2 2012

Competition Bureau turf war with CRTC in the offing

Julius Melnitzer, Financial Post, Jul 31
The looming jurisdictional turf war between Canada’s Competition Bureau and the CRTC looks like it may finally be coming to a head in the Federal Court in the context of The Commissioner of Competition v. Bragg Communications Inc. The Competition Bureau is alleging that BCE Inc., a vertically integrated broadcaster, has been dealing unfairly with a number of competing broadcasting distribution undertakings, including Bragg, Canadian Cable Systems Alliance, Cogeco Cable Inc., Manitoba Telecom Services Inc., and Telus Communication Company, by imposing or seeking to impose unlawful restrictions on competing BDUs’ ability to access and distribute Bell-owned content. The Bureau alleges that BCE’s conduct is contrary to Part VIII of the Competition Act, which includes both refusal to deal and abuse of dominance provisions. Julius Melnitzer, Financial Post, Jul 31

Elections Ontario, Unprecedented’ breach of privacy

The Toronto Sun, Aug 5 2012 
Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, recently provided a great service to the province’s residents. It’s just too bad, she had to. Her investigation into the colossal screw-up at Elections Ontario, which lost the information of over 2.4 million voters from the 2011 general election, should be a summer must-read for every bureaucrat coast to coast. The 30 page-plus admonishment of election officials is unnerving, considering the missing information is a “goldmine” for identity thieves. The Toronto Sun, Aug 5 2012 

F.T.C. Seeks Tighter Rules On Web Sites For Children

Edward Wyatt, The New York Times, Aug 2 2012
Seeking to further tighten rules on online collection or disclosure of children’s personal information, the Federal Trade Commission proposed restrictive requirements on Wednesday on companies and Web sites that target youths or that have young audiences. The proposal expands restrictions that the commission originally proposed last fall after it found that regulations governing the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act had not kept up with advances in Internet technology. Edward Wyatt, The New York Times, Aug 2 2012

March 2012 FTC Report Outlines New Privacy Framework For Handling Consumer Data

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report in March 2012 setting forth best practices for businesses to protect the privacy of American consumers and give them greater control over the collection and use of their personal data. The report, titled Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: Recommendations For Businesses and Policymakers, calls on companies handling consumer data to implement several recommendations for protecting privacy. The FTC website outlines the guiding principles in this effort: 

Mounties consider storing surveillance indefinitely on drivers with clean records

Rob Shaw, Victoria Times Colonist August 1, 2012
"Thousands of British Columbians could be tracked by police with-out their knowledge as part of an expanded mass surveillance system being considered by the RCMP.The Mounties said they will decide within the next two or three months whether to dramatically expand their automated licence-plate recognition system.Cameras mounted on 43 police vehicles throughout the province record 3,000 licence plates an hour, but only keep the information on drivers the computer flags as having outstanding warrants, dangerous criminal histories, expired insurance or other serious infractions," Rob Shaw, Victoria Times Colonist August 1, 2012.