As anticipated, on November 29, 2017 the Alberta Government introduced Bill 31, A Better Deal for Consumers and Businesses Act, designed to level the playing field for Alberta businesses and improve protections for Albertans making buying decisions.
RCC has been actively involved in the consultation process and was successful in addressing all elements of concern, including those that would have potentially seen the regulation of standardized pricing, return, and refund policies.
Bill 31 introduces a Consumer Bill of Rights intended to better inform and protect consumers making purchasing decisions, including those buying or repairing a car, buying concert tickets, taking out a loan or getting medical care for their pets. The legislation will also result in the renaming of the Fair Trading Act to the Consumer Protection Act, to focus the purpose of the act more clearly.
Features of Bill 31:
Online Ticket sales: New rules will prohibit the use of software (i.e., bots) for purchasing tickets and require secondary sellers and ticketing platforms to provide a full refund if the event is cancelled or a ticket is counterfeit or invalid.
Car Sales and Repairs: New rules will require sellers to disclose a vehicle’s history and provide a standard bill of sale. Auto repair shops will be expected to provide minimum warranty protections and provide written estimates in advance of the work being completed.
Veterinary services: New protections for pet owners will be introduced, including requiring the disclosure of all fees before administering any veterinary services or treatments for household pets (excluding emergencies).
High-Cost Credit Products: Protections for borrowers of high-cost credit products (defined as 32% plus) will be established, including the use of standard contract formats so that consumers can better understand the nature of high cost credit, and the establishment of licensing requirements for high-interest lenders.
Fairness Between Consumers and Businesses:
• New rules will restrict unilateral amendments to contracts without informing the consumer, and provide consumers with the option of cancelling the agreement;
• Disallow clauses that prevent consumers from posting negative business reviews;
• Allow consumers who file a complaint in good faith or issue a negative review to better protect themselves from legal recourse;
• Enable Government to publicly release information about charges, convictions and other enforcement actions taken under the act.
Once the legislation passes, Service Alberta is expected to move forward with the development of regulations during the first half of 2018.
• RCC will remain activity involved throughout the draft regulation process.
• RCC will also work with the government to ensure support is made available for members that require guidance in the amendment of there current business practices.