Connect with us

Anglais

Cellphone retailers fail mystery shopping test, researchers plan to tell CRTC inquiry

Published

on

[ad_1]

When Sean Grassie​, Kristianne Anor and Tara Hristov headed to cellphone retailers in the Ottawa area recently, they weren’t your average customers looking for a cellphone plan — they were University of Ottawa law students, on assignment as mystery shoppers.

Their mission? To test the consumer experience at the cellphone counter.

The students and the team’s co-leader will present their « frustrating » findings today in Gatineau, Que., at a week-long CRTC public hearing into misleading and aggressive sales practices by Canada’s telecom service providers.

The hearing is part of an inquiry the federal government ordered, after months of reporting on the issue by Go Public, which heard from more than 800 frustrated telecom customers and more than 200 current and former employees of the companies.

« The marketplace doesn’t work well for consumers, » says Mary Cavanagh, a professor at the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Law, Technology and Society, « and we think the government is abdicating their responsibility if they don’t deal with it. »

Mary Cavanagh co-led a mystery shopper study that found cellphone retailers gave ‘incomplete, unclear or misleading information’ when asked about service plans. (Submitted by Mary Cavanagh)

The mystery shoppers made 36 visits to six major cellphone retailers in Ottawa and Gatineau testing to see how much information they’d be provided about buying a cellphone and a service plan — such as price, data limits and cancellation fees — and whether they’d be given any written material to take away for review.

« People are not getting enough information to make an informed decision, » Cavanagh told Go Public.

‘No consistency’

The mystery shoppers began their research in the summer of 2016, visiting six major retailers to test what would happen when they inquired about purchasing a cellphone service plan. 

The shoppers visited two different locations for each retailer, armed with a checklist based on the Wireless Code — designed to empower and inform consumers.

They repeated that test in the summer of 2018, and added a second test — asking about buying a cellphone along with a service plan.

« We found virtually no consistency, » says Cavanagh, « in either the information topics covered, or in the quality of the information that was conveyed. »

Out of 36 visits, only once did an employee give clear, comprehensive and accurate information to the mystery shoppers.

The checklist

As soon as the mystery shoppers left each retailer — sometimes a store, sometimes a kiosk in a mall — they would fill out a 16-page checklist of over 100 questions.  

Here are some of the questions on the checklist:

  • Did the salesperson speak clearly?
  • Did the salesperson ask enough questions to identify your needs?
  • Did the salesperson explain overage charges?
  • Did the salesperson explain how a contract can be cancelled?
  • Did the salesperson discuss what would happen if the device was lost or stolen?

More than 50 per cent of the time, topics from the checklist were never mentioned, despite prompts by the shoppers themselves and employees from all six retailers repeatedly gave poor or incorrect information.

The burden should not be on the consumer to ask all the smart questions.– Mary  Cavanagh , university prof

« The information was completely lacking, » says Cavanagh. 

« You should be telling me about warranties. You should be telling me about extensions, about what happens after an offer terminates. The burden should not be on the consumer to ask all the smart questions. »

The group’s research findings also noted that there was « very little use of followup questions to put a customer’s needs into context, » that many of the interactions seemed « rushed even when they were the only customers in the kiosk » and that staff provided only « minimal responses » to questions.

Employees not helpful

Besides the checklist, the mystery shoppers made written observations about what happened, immediately after leaving a cellphone provider’s store or kiosk. 

In one instance, a mystery shopper noted, « When we asked for something in writing, she [the employee] said she did not have anything to give us and could not print from the computer, so she wrote out some basics on a sticky note and gave that to us. »

On another visit, an employee told a mystery shopper that they could « take a picture of a piece of paper on the wall, » that had some pertinent details.

One mystery shopper writes that another employee « just handed me the brochure and then stared at me after each question. »

‘Something in writing’ needed

Not one visit resulted in a mystery shopper leaving with detailed information in writing.

The research paper says the mystery shoppers « observed a consistent reluctance and/or explicit denial of requests for written information or documentation that a customer could take away with them. »

A team of researchers from the University of Ottawa discovered that retailers selling cellphone plans were reluctant to provide information in writing. (CBC)

« It’s completely unfair to consumers, » she says. « We know that people are very poor at retaining complex information that’s only delivered verbally. »

At the CRTC hearing, Cavanagh and her students will be urging the regulator to introduce rules making it mandatory for cellphone retailers to provide details in writing to potential customers.

« What are they [telcos] afraid of? » says Cavanagh. « What’s at risk for them in providing a more robust package of information? It’s needed to make what is called an informed decision. »

‘Hide the pamphlets’

Anuj Taxali says he was deliberately instructed not to help customers make an informed decision when he worked in a retail cellphone store several years ago.  

In his written submission to the CRTC — and in an earlier Go Public story — Taxali said that in 2014 he briefly worked at a Toronto cellphone store that was frequented by senior citizens.

Although they were just looking for a low cost « pay as you go » plan, Taxali writes that his manager « told us to hide the pamphlets » about that option. 

« She told us to instead sell these customers more expensive … plans with a large number of minutes and internet data, » writes Taxali, « even though we genuinely believed these plans were not the most appropriate option for such customers. »

Seniors struggle in retail stores

Taxali’s allegations are disturbing to Wanda Morris, vice-president of advocacy for CARP, a national advocacy association for people over age 50.

« That is such an unethical practice, » says Morris. « After working so hard to get less costly [cellphone] options for people that suit their needs, it’s hard to hear about people being misled. »

CARP is part of the Fair Communications Sales Coalition, a group that includes the National Pensioner Federation and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (ACORN), which advocates for low income families.

Wanda Morris, of CARP, says older Canadians need written cellphone contract details that they are able to take home for review. (Submitted by Wanda Morris)

The coalition is also making a presentation to the CRTC today, arguing that Canadians are being misled and coerced into signing up for products and services that they knowingly would never have purchased.

« We’ve certainly heard from people that they don’t feel they’re getting the full story when they go into a store, » says Morris. « If they’re shown anything to read at all, they’re given print that’s too small to read. »

Mary Cavanagh is hoping the federal government is paying close attention to this week’s hearing.

« Is this the kind of marketplace that they really want to support? » asks Cavanagh. « Is this a competitive marketplace that also supports consumers? I would say so far, not very well. »

With files from Enza Uda

Submit your story ideas

Go Public is an investigative news segment on CBC-TV, radio and the web.

We tell your stories and hold the powers that be accountable.

We want to hear from people across the country with stories you want to make public.

Submit your story ideas at Go Public.

Follow @CBCGoPublic on Twitter.

[ad_2]

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Anglais

‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

Published

on

By

MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

Continue Reading

Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

Published

on

By

Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

Continue Reading

Anglais

Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

Published

on

By

Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

Continue Reading

Chat

Anglais2 semaines ago

‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

Anglais2 semaines ago

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

Anglais2 semaines ago

Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

Anglais2 semaines ago

Learjet, the private plane synonymous with the jet-set, nears end of runway

Anglais2 semaines ago

Brivia Group announces the construction of Phase 2 of LB9 rental condo project

Anglais2 semaines ago

With popcorn sales banned, some movie theatre owners say it’s not worth it to reopen

Actualités2 semaines ago

À partir de 2025, toutes les voitures de Jaguar seront 100 % électriques

Actualités2 semaines ago

Forte augmentation des demandes de remboursement de voyage

Actualités2 semaines ago

Le textile reste un fléau pour l’environnement malgré de nombreuses initiatives écologiques

Actualités2 semaines ago

L’Agence de mobilité durable et Jalon s’unissent

Actualités2 semaines ago

Un village à reconstruire au coeur de Pointe-aux-Trembles

Actualités2 semaines ago

Le centre-ville de Montréal continue de se vider

Actualités2 semaines ago

Recommandations de la Commission sur les locaux vacants La vitalité du secteur commercial au cœur des priorités de la Ville

Actualités2 semaines ago

Un cabinet d’avocats ne peut pas déduire les frais d’un mariage, dit la Cour

Actualités2 semaines ago

Financement pour deux entreprises de Dorval et Lachine

Actualités2 semaines ago

Les friperies observent une augmentation en popularité

Actualités1 mois ago

Logo du CF Montréal : quatre experts se prononcent

Actualités1 mois ago

De nouveaux logements sociaux pour les femmes autochtones à Montréal

Actualités1 mois ago

Invasion montréalaise !

Actualités1 mois ago

L’hôtel de ville de Sept-Îles pourrait être détruit

Anglais2 années ago

Body found after downtown Lethbridge apartment building fire, police investigating – Lethbridge

Styles De Vie2 années ago

Salon du chocolat 2018: les 5 temps forts

Anglais2 années ago

This B.C. woman’s recipe is one of the most popular of all time — and the story behind it is bananas

Anglais2 années ago

27 CP Rail cars derail near Lake Louise, Alta.

Anglais2 années ago

Man facing eviction from family home on Toronto Islands gets reprieve — for now

Santé Et Nutrition2 années ago

Gluten-Free Muffins

Santé Et Nutrition2 années ago

We Try Kin Euphorics and How to REALLY Get the Glow | Healthyish

Anglais2 années ago

Ontario’s Tories hope Ryan Gosling video will keep supporters from breaking up with the party

Anglais2 années ago

A photo taken on Toronto’s Corso Italia 49 years ago became a family legend. No one saw it — until now

Anglais2 années ago

Condo developer Thomas Liu — who collected millions but hasn’t built anything — loses court fight with Town of Ajax

Styles De Vie2 années ago

Renaud Capuçon, rédacteur en chef du Figaroscope

Anglais2 années ago

This couple shares a 335-square-foot micro condo on Queen St. — and loves it

Mode2 années ago

Paris : chez Cécile Roederer co-fondatrice de Smallable

Anglais2 années ago

Ontario Tories argue Trudeau’s carbon plan is ‘unconstitutional’

Styles De Vie2 années ago

Ford Ranger Raptor, le pick-up roule des mécaniques

Affaires2 années ago

Le Forex devient de plus en plus accessible aux débutants

Anglais2 années ago

100 years later, Montreal’s Black Watch regiment returns to Wallers, France

Technologie2 années ago

YouTube recommande de la pornographie juvénile, allègue un internaute

Anglais2 années ago

Trudeau government would reject Jason Kenney, taxpayers group in carbon tax court fight

Anglais2 années ago

Province’s push for private funding, additional stops puts Scarborough subway at risk of delays

Trending