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False Advertising And The Law

Many Canadians aren’t aware that it is actually illegal to make false claims in your advertising. Sure, one may know that it is not ethical, but very few are aware that it is illegal.  This isn’t surprising given that the laws aren’t being enforced by the government. Since they’re not being enforced it is as though the laws don’t exist at all.  That is until someone files a complaint.

That is exactly what has happened with Rogers Communications potentially facing more than $10 million in penalties resulting from an investigation by Canada’s Competition Bureau. The investigation follows a complaint to the bureau filed in mid-September by Wind Mobile.  According to Anthony Lacavera, Chairman of Wind Mobile, a new wireless entrant into the market, Rogers’ advertising claimed user would experience “fewer dropped calls than new wireless carriers”, which contradicts the Competition Bureau’s research showing there is no discernible difference.

So there you have it, if Wind didn’t file a complaint the Bureau would have done nothing. We have these great laws and government agencies, such as the Competition Bureau, meanwhile there are small shops throughout Toronto operated by opportunistic entrepreneurs making false claims to attract more customers or charge more for products or services.  Have you ever walked into an independent electronics and furniture store looking for that unbelievably low priced, advertised item only to find they had run out, but have a more expensive alternative. The thing is that sometimes you’re at the store when it opens the day of the special, so you wonder who did they sell it to – an invisible customer?

The point is things like this happen all the time and the Bureau and other tax-payer funded agencies, which we rely on to administer the laws we believe will protect us do nothing about it unless someone complaints.  So, I’m going to take time out of my schedule to document, complain and dedicate part of my life to holding these unscrupulous entrepreneurs accountable? Isn’t that why pay taxes and elect potliticians to pass laws – so that the system takes care of it for us? Why doesn’t the agency have a structured, systematic process in place whereby it can identify these scams.

This is a more serious matter than you may think when you consider that this practice could be happening within our grocery stores and restaurants.  Are you aware of where your food is grown? A while ago, the Canadian government passed a law requiring that the source of food be revealed.  China was one of the biggest supplier of garlic to Canada.  Yet, when the grocery stores were told to identify the origin of the garlic, their market share dropped.  So, what did the Chinese exporters do? – they exported to their friends in Mexico, who then repackaged the garlic and exported it to Canada where the grocers sold it as originating from Mexico.  It is deceitful and something that the Bureau and its sister agencies should do something about, but they’re not.

There should be a systematic process implemented that makes it easy to identify the advertising frauds. The people know this is happening, so make it easier for them to bring it to your attention without having to do all the research and follow up.  Then keep them informed. There is website technology that makes all this possible, so why not use it.  Of course, there should be some public awareness taking place so that consumers know their rights and what they can do about this type of fraud.

Does anyone have more perspective on this?

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