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Quebec's consumer watchdog bites big retailers: The price is right

The price is right

Quebec’s Office de la protection du consommateur is on a roll this week. It fined Montreal-area outlets of Future Shop, Canadian Tire, Pharmacie Jean Coutu and Rona L’entrepôt thousands of dollars for incorrectly pricing products.

The OPC fines are the first of another 15 to be announced next week for stores in other cities throughout Quebec. "This doesn’t happen this often, but this year we have a new rule that says all prices must be labelled," says OPC spokesperson Jean-Jacques Préaux. "If there isn’t a price on the product you want to buy, the store must at least provide a barcode scanner so you can verify the price."

For incorrectly listing prices – Préaux says OPC fines begin at $2,000 per infraction – the Canadian Tire outlet at 6700 Côtes-des-Neiges was fined $6,500; the Future Shop at 1645 Des Corbusiers in Laval was fined $14,500; Pharmacie Jean Coutu at 531 Jarry E. was fined $10,500; and Rona L’entrepôt at 3065 Le Carrefour Blvd. in Laval was fined $10,500.

"Our inspectors visited the stores and discovered irregularities," Préaux says.

The OPC, created in 1971, enforces Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act, which governs contracts involving goods and services, contracts of credit, contracts relating to automobiles and motorcycles, repair of household appliances, business practices, advertising and warranties.

But Préaux admits the OPC is unable to catch all the mistakes.

"Consumers who notice a discrepancy should tell the store cashier," Préaux says. "Or the consumer can return the product afterwards if they discover they paid more for something than was advertised in a circular. The consumer can also contact us and we’ll [check out the] situation. But problems aren’t usually with the circulars. Usually it’s the regularly priced items."

For those who want to know whether any complaints have been filed against any given merchant, the OPC advises consumers to consult the search engine on their www.opc.gouv.qc.ca website.

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