Top 10 Consumer Complaints in 2004

The ministry’s Consumer Services Bureau provides information and advice to consumers and mediates complaints between consumers and businesses. The ministry receives more than 70,000 complaints and inquiries by mail and telephone each year. Here are the top 10 complaints and inquiries received by the ministry in 2004. 1). Collection Agencies
2). Home Renovations
3). Motor Vehicle Repairs
4). Motor Vehicle Purchases
5). Home Furnishings
6). Personal Items (e.g., clothing, cosmetics, jewellry)
7). Credit Reporting
8). Health and Fitness
9). Timeshare and Vacation Clubs
10). Cell Phones

Collection AgenciesThe Collection Agencies Act governs collection agencies in Ontario. The ministry is currently consulting on finding additional ways to strengthen prohibited practices for collection agencies.A collection agency must infonn the consumer if it plans to take legal action to collect a debt. Collection agencies are not allowed to make harassing phone calls and cannot continue to demand payment from a person who claims not to owe money.Home RenovationsExisting: Consumers have five dayto cancel a contract.New Additional Protections under CP A: Consumers will now have 10 days to cancel a contract. The final costs cannot be more than 10 per cent above the original estimate unless approved by the consumer.Motor Vehicle RepairsExisting: If there is a fee associated with providing an estimate, this must be disclosed in advance. Final charges for repair work cannot be more than 10 per cent over the original estimate.New Additional Protections under CPA: Repair shops cannot charge for work without giving the consumer an estimate. The only exception is where an estimate is offered, the consumer declines the estimate and authorizes a maximum amount and the final cost does not exceed that maximum amount.Motor Vehicle PurchasesEnhanced consumer protection for purchasing motor vehicles will be covered in the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, 2002, expected to come into force in 2006.Home FurnishingsNew Additional Protections under CP A: Under the new act, if the promised date of delivery is missed by more than 30 days, consumers can cancel the agreement.Personal ItemsExisting: Consumers are protected against unfair practices, such as deceptive promotion and sales pitches.New Additional Protections under CP A: If an unfair practice has occurred, consumers have a year to rescind the agreement.Credit ReportingCredit reporting is governed by the Consumer Reporting Act.Existing: It is illegal for a credit repairer to represent that they can cause a material improvement to a consumer’s credit file, prior to examining the consumer’s report.New Additional Protections under CPA: Consumers will have 10 days up from five days to cancel agreements for credit repair.Health and FitnessA personal development services agreement is limited to a one-year term. The business must provide consumers the option to pay monthly installments.New Additional Protections under CPA: A consumer can cancel the agreement for any reason, within 10 days (an increase from the original five days in the old legislation) after receiving a written copy of the agreement on the day all services are available.Timeshare and Vacation ClubsNew Additional Protections under CPA: A consumer can cancel the agreement, for any reason, within 10 days after receiving a written copy of the agreement. If the consumer cancels the agreement, the business must provide a full refund within 15 days.Cell PhonesNew Additional Protections under CP A: Contracts must be prominent, clear and comprehensible. Vague language is discouraged in contracts. All required infonIlation must be clear, prominent and easy to understand. If there is a dispute over unclear language, the law requires that it be interpreted in favour of the consumer.Payday LendingNew Additional Protections under CPA: The new act establishes clear disclosure requirements for payday lending as part of the rules on credit agreements. The ministry continues to work with the federal government on solutions to the high fees and interest rates charged by payday lenders. The new act requires clear disclosure of costs and has rules around contracts for loans.The ministry is consulting on ways to strengthen disclosure for consumer credit, including payday loans.Complaints and AdviceConsumers can call the Consumer Services Bureau for advice Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (416) 326-8800 in Toronto or toll free at 1-800-889-9768. The TTY number for people who have hearing or speech difficulties is (416) 325-3408 or 1-800-268-7095.Information and advice about consumer issues are available on the ministry’s web site at, where an online complaint form is available and may be submitted electronically.For more information, contact:Ministry of Government Services250 Yonge St., 32nd FloorToronto ON M5B 2N5In Toronto: 416-326-8800Toll-free: 1-800-889-9768TTY: 416-325-3408 or 1-800-268-7095Fax: 416-326-866530-Contacts: Matthew Ruttan Minister’s Office 416-327-0948Julie Rosenberg Ministry of Government Services 416-326-8558