November 30, 2017
Yesterday the Government of Alberta tabled their updates to the
Fair Trading Act, which is Alberta's consumer protection legislation. This piece of legislation has seen minor revisions throughout the last few decades but it is generally acknowledged that the legislation was due for a major overhaul and update. There are some very needed amendments in this Bill, things that our industry experts, meeting early this morning, openly acknowledged as reasonable or just. However there are also some changes about which we are more wary. More consideration and consultation with experts will be needed before we parse out their implications. The government also renamed the legislation to
A Better Deal for Businesses and Consumers Act. Our chief concern is that the spirit of the legislation remains focused on
fair trading, in that it respects and protects both businesses and consumers, and holds each to account for their actions.
Here's a summary of the proposed changes.
Online Ticket Sales
- Bots will be banned for buying online tickets.
- Ticket sellers are responsible for stopping or cancelling any tickets bought using bots. There are large fines or jail time for non-compliance.
- Secondary sellers like StubHub will be required to provide full refunds if events are cancelled before a ticket is used, the ticket is cancelled, counterfeit, or doesn't match the description.
- Sellers and consumers can also sue if bots are used.
- However, there will be no ban on reselling tickets.
Businesses and Bad Review
- Consumers are protected from retaliatory lawsuits if they post negative reviews about a business online, provided the review is in good faith.
- Businesses are banned from including clauses about mandatory arbitration or clauses that prohibit consumers from posting bad reviews online.
- The bill will also allow the government to disclose information about individuals or businesses who are not following consumer protection laws.
Car Repair and Sales
- Auto sales businesses will now have to use a standardized bill of sale.
- Mechanics and body shops will have to give written quotes and will have to get approval from the client before commencing work.
- Institutes minimum mandatory warranty protections on repairs.
Changes to AMVIC (Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council)
- Transitions AMVIC to a public agency.
- No increases to taxpayers because AMVIC is self-funded through industry fees and levies.
- Gives the government more control over AMVIC's operations as the Minister can dictate the board's makeup, establish governance rules, and make changes to the compensation fund.
- Veterinarians will require approval from pet owners before initiating any treatment and they will have to disclose all fees for treatments (unless its an emergency). They will also be able to advertise their fees.
High-cost Credit Products
- High-credit lenders (those offering loans that charge more than 32%) will have to have a license to operate and will have to use standard contract formats.
- There are also advertising requirements in place.