If you’re like most Canadians, you probably have at least heard of deceptive sales practices. This practice involves omitting or misleading important information when attempting to sell you a product or service. It can lead to wasted time, mental stress and financial hardship.
A recent report from the Ipsos Media Group shows that up to 40% of Canadians have experienced these kinds of misleading practices. The report did not specify exactly what these practices were, but based on research with consumers and employees, it appears that they are common.
While the Ipsos report did not delve into specifics, it found that these aggressive practices could negatively impact all Canadians. Some of the most common examples of these practices include omitting key contractual terms, offering information that is ambiguous, and not leaving the property when a “no” is said. These practices can be especially detrimental to Canadians who speak English as a second language.
Many Service Providers have taken measures to prevent this type of behaviour. But there appears to be a large gap between what is in place and what is actually happening on the ground. For instance, some Service Providers’ sales forces appear to engage in these tactics more than others.
One company that has taken steps to respond to deceptive sales practices is ADT. The firm has filed permanent injunctions against two companies, and is currently seeking damages from another two. ADT’s chief legal officer, David Smail, talked about deceptive sales practices and how they are handled in the modern world.
In addition, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently sued credit reporting company TransUnion for its use of deceptive sales practices. During the litigation, a judge ruled that the company must stop using deceptive tactics, and that the recurring payments on subscriptions will be stopped.
According to the CRTC, some of the most common and problematic forms of aggressive sales practices include sales agents making it difficult for customers to cancel their services. Also, some Service Providers have failed to adequately monitor their sales agents’ compliance with their policies. Another example is a service called Seller Boost. Zillow, an online real estate services company, solicits advertising revenue from lenders, mortgage brokers, and real estate agents.
The CRTC has also recognized the negative effects of aggressive sales practices on seniors. Seventy-five per cent of seniors surveyed reported having had a misleading sales experience. Their experiences were corroborated by researchers and consumer advocacy groups.
While these types of practices may affect anyone, they can be particularly damaging for seniors, as many of them don’t even realize they’re being misled. Seniors, who often suffer from physical and cognitive limitations, are more likely to be harmed by aggressive sales practices than any other group.
To protect yourself from these practices, be sure to check the company licensing and check that your agent is licensed. You can also look for complaints against your agent. Ultimately, if you believe you’ve been the victim of deceptive sales, you should file a complaint with the CRTC.