2011–12 Project Summaries: Union des consommateurs

6226 Saint-Hubert Street
Montreal, QC  H2S 2M2
Tel.: 514-521-6820
Fax: 514-521-0736

1. Adequacy of legal warranty plans in Canada

When we purchase an item, it is normal to expect to be able to use it for its usual purpose, for a reasonable amount of time. All consumer items sold in Canada are covered by a mandatory basic warranty, provided by law: this is the legal warranty. But many consumers are unaware of the legal warranty or seem to have a negative impression of it. Some see it as too vague. Others decry the lack of cooperation by merchants, and the need to go before the courts to have it enforced; this leads to costs for them, lost time, and no guarantee of winning.

This research will attempt to answer the following questions: Do legal warranties sufficiently protect consumers? Are they easy to apply or are they wishful thinking or too complicated? What is actually covered by this warranty? Have other foreign legislatures been able to define legal warranties that are easier to apply? Is it possible to define it objectively? These are the questions the UC will try to answer.

Expected results

The results of the UC research will provide methods to assess the ways to better inform consumers who are unaware of the actual limits of the legal warranty, the bodies they can address, and the procedures to follow to implement this warranty.

2. How young people view credit: Predictable debt overload?

Buying on credit is a widespread practice today, with adults and young people. Once they turn 18, young people are solicited by banks, even right on school campuses.

With this project, UC wishes to ask and answer the following questions: do young people realize credit is simply a payment method? Do they distinguish properly between the various types of credit offers? What is their perception of credit, its usefulness, its purpose and its risks? What is their capacity for detecting marketing illusions, and their resistance to solicitation? Does their perception of credit threaten to lead them to debt overload?

Expected results

This study will allow us to understand how young people view credit and how this perception is created and reinforced. From the research results, UC will be able to use the view young people have of credit to submit proposals for effective interventions with and for the benefit of young people, and targeted approaches to raise awareness on using credit and the potential consequences.