Service Alberta Minister Stephanie McLean held an informal open house Sept. 14th at the Red Deer Public Library on consumer issues ranging from car repairs, warranties and reward points to concert ticket sales and contractors.
People had the opportunity to engage directly with government officials to learn more about the different consumer items.
“Ultimately our goal here is to collect information from Albertans on how we can make life more affordable for them, so we are doing that through consumer protections,” said McLean.
She said there are lots of emerging trends and changes in industries that they haven’t been able to stay up to date with, and that their legislation doesn’t adequately respond to.
“We get letters from Albertans on some of these problems and issues, and I want to know how I can ensure that there’s a healthy and strong relationship between business and consumer, because the more consumer confidence we have the better businesses do in our economy as a whole.”
She said it’s ultimately a win-win when they can hit that sweet spot of ensuring that businesses feel their reputation is protected.
“We know the majority of businesses are honest and responsible and care about their reputation and their consumers, but there are bad actors out there that give a bad reputation to certain industries and that’s not good for consumer confidence and it’s not good for the bottom line for the honest reputable businesses.”
She said there is an opportunity on both sides for the consumer to create more consumer confidence and make life more affordable, and to ensure that businesses feel supported and protected from the bad actors who undermine their reputation.
They consulted on five themes – consumer’s rights and responsibilities, consumer’s money and agreement, guarantees and the price tag, consumer’s rewards and gifts and emerging trends.
“One of the most popular areas of feedback is with respect to ticket sales.”
She said what comes to mind to most people is scalping, but also ticket bots and the affordability and accessibility of concert tickets.
“We receive over 100,000 consumer enquiries and complaints per year in Service Alberta, so this is something that affects a lot of Albertans, not just ticket sales, but a wide range of consumer issues.”
She said there’s a wide variety of topics covered.
“Reward points is one that I get a lot of letters about and we’re consulting on certainly. Door to door sales, veterinary billing and automotive repairs are among some of the more hot topics that I hear from Albertans about regularly.”