August 14 2010 by Ellen Roseman
I often take guided tours in places where I’ve never been. It’s annoying when you’re taken to a souvenir store and forced to wait for everyone in your group to finish shopping.
It’s an unspoken truth that tour guides get a commission on everything sold in shops where they direct customers. But the truth is getting out. I saw a sign in a market warning that guides earned 30 to 35 per cent of the price paid in some stores. “Shop on your own,” it said.
How would truth in labelling work for companies I write about in this blog? Let’s think about what Enbridge, for example, would say about its budget billing plan.
* We can set your monthly instalment payments too low and send you a large bill after almost a year has passed, without doing any mid-term reviews.
* We can charge you 1.5 per cent a month in late fees if you can’t pay this large bill within a few weeks, even though we made the error.
* We can ask you to call us if you’re in financial difficulty, but we can make it hard for you to reach our call centres.
* We can sign you up for this budget billing plan automatically if you’re a new customer without giving you a choice.
* We urge you to check the budget billing plan data each month, knowing that we can make large errors, and to ask for an increase in your instalment payments if you haven’t been billed enough.
If such messages were in bold print, in large type, on all monthly statements, I’d agree that Enbridge customers were truly warned about the billing problems they could face.
Aeroplan also needs to beef up its truth in labelling. I’d like to see warnings everywhere that your points will be zapped in one year unless you stay active and that buying anything at a partner retailer (such as Esso) will ensure you won’t lose your points.
Any other examples of proper disclosure that readers want to share would be welcome.