Canadian Tire overcharging customers on eco fees

July 12 2010 by Ellen Roseman

Several people told me about being overcharged in environmental fees by Canadian Tire after my column last Saturday. So I did my own shopping trip tonight.

I bought three cleaning products:

— A 2.4-litre bottle of Javex bleach ($2.49), for which I paid an eco fee of 31 cents.

— An 828-ml bottle of C-L-R stain remover ($8.99), for which I paid an eco fee of 13 cents.

— A 2.26-litre bottle of Cascade dishwasher detergent ($7.49), for which I paid an eco fee of 43 cents.

Then, I checked out Stewardship Ontario and found the eco fees fit the guidelines for corrosives (the first two products I bought).

But the dishwasher deteregent was an irritant — not a corrosive — and should have had an eco fee of about less than 1 cent.

So, where did the wacky 43-cent fee come from?

I sent Amy Cole, a Canadian Tire spokeswoman, a bunch of emails from other readers who were overcharged. She got back to me today, saying they were entitled to a refund.

We’re currently auditing our point-of-sale system to correct any errors as quickly as possible. Customers that return to the store with a receipt will be reimbursed and any money that is not reimbursed to the customer will be remitted to Stewardship Ontario for its recycling and disposal efforts.

Eco fees were not intended to generate profit for us and we’re working to ensure the correct fees are charged going forward.

It’s bad enough to pay these eco fees, but the 13 per cent HST is levied on top. So, if you get a refund, make sure to ask for the HST too (about 12 cents for me).

I’m doing a follow-up column, so please tell me what you think of the eco fees and what experiences you’ve had with stores adding them to your bills.

41 comments

  1. Isabella

    Jul 12 2010

    I bought a jug (2.78 litrs) of bleach at Canadian Tire on Saturday. The price is $1.00, the eco fee is $0.37. After HST is applied, I have to pay $1.55 total.

    I went back and talked to the store manager, saying that the ECO fee should only be $0.08 or less, according to the Saturday Toronto Star article.

    He said that the eco fee charged is the correct amount and would not give a refund.

    Please inform me if this is the correct amount to charge.

  2. Peter

    Jul 12 2010

    I had just finished reading your report on eco fees in Toronto Star on Saturday and realized I was not aware of this added cost.

    So I took a look at my receipt from Canadian Tire from July 9th, when I had purchased 2.85L of Old Dutch original bleach for $1 each and noticed that the Canadian Tire store had charged me 37 cents for Eco Fee.

    This means 37% added cost, plus the HST on the 37 cents, of course.

    I visited the store but none of the staff knew about the eco fees. Finally, the manager met me and explained that the charge was correct (37 cents for a 2.85L container).

    When I showed him your article from Toronto Star, he then gave me the phone number to call the head office to file my complaint, because he did not know how the corporation had come up with the fees in the first place.

    What about Mel Fruitman’s (Vice-president of Consumers’ Association of Canada) suggestion that the eco fee is actually “illegal”?

    Is there anything we as consumers can do about this unfair extra cost of living?

  3. Ron

    Jul 12 2010

    My wife and I are retired. I went to Canadian Tire and purchased 3 jugs of bleach at 99 cents each.

    They charged me a 57-cent eco fee on each jug, then charged me 13% HST on both the jug and the eco fee.

    That’s 70% and we were under the impression the eco fee was to be 6.5%.

  4. KM

    Jul 12 2010

    Don’t buy any “eco” products at Canadian Tire (batteries, oil, etc.). They DO charge self-imposed “Ecological Fee”, which is … NOT a federal government tax.

    Canadian Tire decided to make me pay … 20%. Yes, I am not joking, I have my receipts.

    Try to buy batteries for $8.29, and your bill includes $1.80 in Eco fees (never explained or made evident anywhere except your cheque once the payment is done) and the total bill comes to $11.40.

    You think I am kidding? Then ask me for a copy.

  5. April

    Jul 12 2010

    Hi there! I purchased a $3 bottle of detergent at Canadian Tire and was charged 20% or a $0.60 eco fee.

    I printed off the charges from the website and should have been charged $0.008.

    Also, on 2 bottles of Vim, I was charged $0.26 when it should have been $0.005.

    I called Stewardship Ontario and was told I was taken!!

    Please warn your readers to check their charges.

  6. m.a. horton

    Jul 13 2010

    Thank-You for bringing these fees to the light of day. I just wish I could find a list of the fees supposed to be charged, instead of trusting the stores that are out for their bottom line,.

    I have tried many times to find the fees online and I did go to the website you posted in the paper and I thank you for responding. However, I just cannot find the list.

    Thanks for the help you have given me, though.

  7. n laggis

    Jul 13 2010

    I just phoned my local Canadian Tire store and asked them how I can find out what the eco fee of a product would be before I purchase it.

    I was told the only way to find out is to buy the product, pay for it and then return it at customer service desk if I am not satisfied with the fee.

    Perhaps this is how Mr. McGuinty figures he will create these thousands of jobs in Ontario. Most of them will be at customer service areas for handling returns at Canadian Tire!

    That is too bad since it is one of the few Canadian stores left.

  8. Stephanie

    Jul 13 2010

    Between the HST, the nickel + HST for grocery bags, the Eco fee (plus HST) and the rising gas prices, soaring hydro costs and other cost-of-living hikes over the past couple of years, I don’t know if I can afford to live in Ontario anymore. Seriously, I don’t.

  9. diane

    Jul 14 2010

    You are all missing the point. When you are charged a fee for the disposal of a container or product…..that is where you drop it off when done with it…right at the front door of the store that charged the fee for disposal.

    There is no need to drive an hour to find a “drop off” location. They are charging that fee for the “service of disposal or recycling,” so they can very well do just that, supply the service you are paying for….

    How long do you think it will take for a review of the idea if we do it properly? Hint hint.

  10. Gardiner Westbound

    Jul 14 2010

    There’s no word on how the new McGuinty eco-tax impacts on the property tax, garbage fees and sewer taxes that pay for local garbage collection, liquid waste disposal and recycling. Will they go down?

    Nor is there any information on how used, eco-taxed, compact fluorescent light bulbs and flashlight batteries will get to the hazardous waste disposal site.

    I’m sure as he11 not driving them the 10-miles with gas at $1 a litre now with the new McGuinty HST on gasoline.

    Besides, driving that distance to deliver a couple of used AAA cells would be bad for the environment.

  11. Falo

    Jul 14 2010

    It is just amazing how far this pickpocketing can go. Who will stand up for the consumer? Will the consumers even stand up for themselves by not voting these thieves in?

    Think of this. When you go to drop off that can of paint, they will CHARGE you for recycling it. That is, after you’ve already paid for the recycling through the eco fee (with HST on top) and after paying for recycling it through your property taxes.

    Triple dipping!!! Truly awesome.

  12. Frances

    Jul 14 2010

    Why should we be paying a fee for items that will go into our Blue Box/Bins? We are already paying for those in our municipal taxes.

    What’s this about a recycling fee on inhalers? Who recycles inhalers? I’d like to know because my husband uses 2, not to mention my daughter.

    And why HST on this fee? That’s just taking advantage of us when we can’t avoid paying this fee.

    However, my garbage is usually full of plastic of one kind or another that can’t be recycled and for which there will apparently be no fee, for example, bread bags, clean plastic clamshells, etc. Why can’t we recycle these items?

  13. Jamie

    Jul 15 2010

    Wal-mart isn’t charging extra on ANY of the items affected July 1 (over the price tag, don’t know if any prices have gone up). For all the bashing they get, they constantly treat their customers better then the “Canadian” ones.

    It is absolutely insane to have this set up so the customer has no idea what price they should be paying, or if the price charged is correct. Regardless of disposal cost, should we really be discouraging the purchase of things like fire extinguishers and medications?

    Where is the money going? Orange Drop (Stewardship Ontario) had an expensive looking truck and trailer in Kingston last weekend with two young staff handing out shopping bags and little plastic boxes (to keep your batteries in for years until it’s worth it to drive to the one disposal spot in the city?).

    I highly doubt anyone made the connection between the fee and this display or learned anything about it, as it appeared the only point was to hand out the shopping bags.

  14. Jamie

    Jul 15 2010

    For those of us who didn’t pick up a free orange drop bag, they will mail you one free (at a postage cost to them that will exceed the value of the bag) if you sign up here,

    http://makethedrop.ca/content/orange-drop-order-bag

    Might as well get something out of your overpaid eco fees.

  15. m.a.horton

    Jul 15 2010

    Thanking you E roseman for bringing the eco fees to the front and advising the people about them. Now I notice that the TV News stations are getting on your bandwagon to also inform the public of these new fees.

    Thank you also for letting us know how some stores are ripping off the customers with these fees in the name of their bottom line.

  16. Peter

    Jul 16 2010

    Here’s another example of the eco fee rip-off. I have a Canadian Tire bill with one item (946 ml can of paint) and 2 eco fees – one for $0.05 and one for $0.60. The correct eco fee for this product is $0.20. So I was charged $0.73 total including tax instead of $0.23 including tax for the eco fee portion.

    When I pointed out the 2 eco fees to the Canadian Tire clerk, she said that it was a government fee that Canadian Tire had no control over!

    Something has to be done about this problem, which is probably not confined to just Canadian Tire stores.

  17. Falo

    Jul 16 2010

    I have to second what some posters have already said. Thank You Ellen for bringing this to light and for fighting on behalf of the consumer.

    This province needs more reporters like you!

  18. Alexandra

    Jul 17 2010

    I went to the Canadian Tire store (Innes Rd., Orleans) today asking for a refund to the overcharging of the eco fees of 60 cents for the laundry detergent and they said that there is no such direction from their head office.

    The eco fee for this 3 litre container is supposed to be less than a penny, but I was charged 60 cents. This is getting overboard. So who is getting this money and how can I get it back? Canadian Tire or Stewardship Ontario?

  19. John Wesley

    Jul 28 2010

    Canadian Tire stores over charging on Eco Fee? Well isn’t that funny. Reg McLay, SVP Marketing & Sourcing Services of the Canadian Tire Corporation sits on the board of directors of Stewardship Ontario,

    http://www.stewardshipontario.ca/consumers/who-we-are/governance/board

    In fact, if one looks at the board of directors of Ontario Electronic Stewardship & Ontario Tire Stewardship, Stewardship Ontario, they are for the most part people working for corporations.

    So the game is between the Ontario Government and the corporations, whose best interest do they care about, ours or theirs?

    How much longer are we the public are going to keep bowing our heads and take it? I, for one, think enough is enough. Send them an e-mail, let them know you are outraged! I have.

    http://www.ontarioelectronicstewardship.ca/about/staff_board.html
    http://www.stewardshipontario.ca/consumers/who-we-are/governance/board
    https://www.ontariots.ca/?q=AboutOTSBoard

  20. Bruce Wells

    Nov 19 2010

    I purchased 4 digital picture frame keychains and was dinged for an eco fee of $2.75 each.

    I checked the website and found out that the 1.5″ screens are considered a personal and portable device (“No kidding, it’s a keychain”) and the eco fee should have been 40 cents.

    I got screwed for $9.40 plus HST and it is a nightmare to get the money back.

    I will never shop at Canadian Tire again.

  21. Scott

    Dec 9 2011

    In Saskatchewan, Canadian Tire charges customers a $4 ‘Environmental Waste Disposal Fee’ when getting an oil change.

    When I asked the shop about this charge, they told me it was a government enviro charge.

    It’s actually just a spurious charge added to the bill by Canadian Tire. They are only mandated to charge 10 cents per litre of oil, and a 50-cent fee for a standard oil filter for environmental fees.

  1. Tweets that mention Canadian Tire overcharging customers on eco fees | Ellen Roseman -- Topsy.com
  2. Canadian Personal Finance Blog » Blog Archive » Random Thoughts: Lazy Days of Summer
  3. Canadian Tire 777 Upper James, Hamilton, - worst place to shop - scary place: Canadian Tire 777 Upper James St, Hamilton, ON; Thief got what he deserves. You do the crime you take a risk that you ...
  4. Canadian Tire Owners and Employees: Charges, Convictions, Investigations: General Canadian Tire Complaints / Chat; And who can forget the infamous "eco fee disaster"? Canadian Tire overcharging customers on eco ...
  5. Join the Boycott - People Who Pledge to Never Go To Canadian Tire Again: General Canadian Tire Complaints / Chat; And there was also the following reply on the CT Facebook page: Alki S.: Sounds ...