Chalk one up for us, fellow Consumers.
Airlines now have to tell us the exact cost we incur when we book an in-Canada flight. No more hiding fees, surcharges and taxes in the fine print. They all have to be covered in the new “all-in” price.
So instead of those “Old Sweat, Nova Scotia for just $59!” ads that somehow overlooked the $3,258 in additional costs, we now can scan the travel section with confidence, clearly seeing the “deal’s” real cost. (Add some more coin for booze and airline “food.”)
Knowing the final price before you purchase – what a concept.
The only ones who didn’t get it, apparently, were the airlines and successive Canadian governments. It took them nine years – nine years!! – to get here, and only after sustained pressure from consumer groups.
Way back in 2003, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and Option consommateurs called on government to regulate the marketing practices of the airline industry, noting that final costs could be as much as 79 percent higher than the ads suggested. This wasn’t nickel-and-diming; this was fifties-and-one hundreds.
Government, which obviously takes seriously its commitment to protect consumers, listened. And acted. If by “acted” you mean “moved at the pace of glaciers.”
In December 2011 the Tories announced that those naughty airlines would have to stop fooling with us, alright. But, apparently because typing bigger numbers into ads is very time-consuming, the industry was given a year to get on-board.
Nevertheless, we are here now, and much happier. All-in pricing makes our decision-making easier, and helps tone down the “I just know I’m going to get screwed” reflex we have when purchasing.
Let’s not rest here, though. So many other industries need to start talking straight with us.
Like you, the real estate market, which lists only the price on the For Sale sign, and neglects to warn us of the thousands of dollars we will also have to fork over to close the deal.
Stop sniggering, lawyers. We’ve had it with your hefty hourly rates that don’t include the extra $1 per photocopied page, 50 cents per paperclip, and $20 for not graduating from the same school as you.
And all you on-line sites that make us hunt to figure out shipping costs? We hate that almost as much as getting a surprise $39 customs bill three months after we saved $6 on an item by buying it from across the border.
We’d turn to government for help but a) they’re just as bad (ever notice how many fees say “plus HST” instead of just telling us the total?); and b) before anything actually changed we’d all be dead (and likely paying an extra $159 for a grave that wasn’t mentioned when we paid $6,000 for funeral costs).
Nope, we’re on our own. Maybe we should all join the Consumers Council of Canada, which stands up for our rights. Membership is only $75, the website tells us.
Plus HST, of course.