World Consumer Rights Day: Option consommateurs urges the federal Finance
Department to respect and promote consumer rights

MONTREAL, March 15 /CNW Telbec/ - Option consommateurs is marking World Consumer Rights Day by calling Department of Finance Canada's attention to the major principles that ought to be guiding its interventions with regard to the debit and credit card system. The aim is to ensure respect for human rights and to promote the interests of Canadian consumers.

Option consommateurs is especially concerned about the adoption of the Code of Conduct for the Debit and Credit Card Industry introduced by the Finance Department in November 2009 and slated for adoption in the latest federal budget. If adopted as is, this voluntary code would give more power to merchants, to the detriment of consumers.

In fact, whenever consumers make a purchase, they must be able to freely and transparently choose their preferred payment method from among those offered by the merchant. However, the voluntary code allows merchants to require the payment method of their choice.

Furthermore, the government should prohibit overbilling resulting from the mode of payment used, in order to permit consumers to compare competitors' prices more easily. We hope that the Code will be clear in this regard.

According to Jean-François Vinet, a financial services analyst at Option consommateurs, consumers must also be adequately protected when they are victims of fraudulent transactions, whether they use debit cards or credit cards. "It's not right that the responsibility should lie with the consumer rather than the issuer of the payment tool. The government should make it a priority to maintain a secure payment system for all users.

"Finally, to ensure consumer confidence in the use of electronic payments, the rules put in place should be similar, irrespective of the mode of payment used (credit cards, debit cards, supports equipped with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) system, etc.). In addition, these rules should be monitored by an independent body.

About Option consommateurs

Created in 1983, Option Consommateurs is a not-for-profit association dedicated to the defence and promotion of consumers' rights. It has initiated thirty class-action suits and closely monitors issues related to the energy sector, the agrifood industry, financial services and business practices.

SOURCE Option consommateurs

For further information: For further information: Julie Gagnon, Communications adviser, Option consommateurs, (514) 598-7288, ext. 226, Cell.: (514) 777-6133, gagnon@option-consommateurs.org


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