Consumer Protection

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Consumer Protection Resources

Particularly in these hard times, it is even more important than ever that consumers know their rights and are protected from aggressive or even illegal business practices.  There are a number of resources that suggest they would be of assistance.  Here are some of them:

The list in the last portal has one resource where the link to the website is missing, somewhat surprisingly, at the time we write this.  That is the reference to the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Authority of British Columbia.  The website does exist and there you can learn that

The Business Practices and Consumer Protection Authority (BPCPA) is a not-for-profit corporation that delivers consumer protection services throughout British Columbia.  BC’s consumer protection laws provide the framework to help the BPCPA protect consumers and encourage a fair marketplace in the province.

There is even a Consumer Corner  and in the past, there have been some useful tips:

Buyer Beware

The interesting aspect of the above resources, almost without exception, is that they usually have two objectives.

  • To set out good business practices, which in some cases may have associated legislation.
  • To provide consumers with advice on how to take care of themselves.  In some cases, there is also a Complaints process.

What is rarely provided is a list of companies whose practices are questionable, or even the subject of complaints. This seems to be a field left to private individuals.  However via the Internet and through the social media such as Twitter such information is becoming more available.

Freedom of Information

Thankfully there is increasing openness in society and governments and their agencies must respond, even if it takes legislation to enforce this.  For example, Larry Pynn in the Vancouver Sun through freedom-of-information legislation learned that Collection agencies, retail outlets and travel agents easily led the top-10 list of consumer complaints received last year by the Business Practices & Consumer Protection Authority of B.C.

Collection agencies were the source of 2,591 phone and mail complaints/inquiries, followed by retail sales at 1,861, and travel agents at 1,008 (136 of whom involved unlicensed agents).

Other sectors on the dubious top-10 list: automotive sales, 551; funeral service, 447; telecommunications, 436; credit/financing 440; credit reporting, 390; contractors, 371; and telemarketing, 367.

You should consult the article for names if you are interested. The BPCPA defends this lack of communication and prefers to work directly with companies to ensure better behavior.  However in this age of Twitter, many ways of communicating what is known are having to be rethought and this area of consumer protection may well be one of them.  Nothing can ensure better business consumer practices faster than by the perpetrators knowing that everyone is watching.

Perhaps the new watchword should be Seller Beware rather than Buyer Beware. It is not something that is difficult to accept since satisfied consumers are the key to better sales growth.

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The Aging Population In Canada

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One news headline today is hardly news. An aging population is changing Canada.

Where was the federal government 25 years ago when it was crystal clear that starting about now Canada would become a nation of seniors?  It was around 1984 that reports like the one recently released by Infrastructure Canada needed to be drawn up. Governments and business routinely think in terms of decades, and even centuries. Why this one seemed to get away from our leading elite is a bit of a mystery.  The report finds that no part of infrastructure will be left untouched by the needs of the increasing number of retiring and aging baby boomers.

The report mentioned is titled Population Aging and Public Infrastructure: a Literature Review of Impacts in Developed Countries.

The report is available in PDF format and deals with the following issues:

Canada faces significant demographic shifts in its population as the proportion of seniors increases at a higher rate than any other age cohort for the first time in its history. This demographic shift will have significant consequences on a wide range of issues that affect all Canadians. The effects of aging demographics will impact demand for health services, labour markets, public finances, and the provision of public infrastructure.

Another useful website to explore on these aging population issues is the About Canada website on Aging.  It highlights some of the questions we all should be asking.

A Canadian born in 1960, for example, can expect to live 20 years longer than a Canadian who was born in 1900. Meanwhile birth rates have declined, so that a growing proportion of the population is over 65. By the year 2031, approximately 20% of Canada’s population – one in five – will be seniors. This fact has important consequences for Canadian society. Who are these older Canadians? What are their roles in society? What are their needs? How will they be taken care of?

It is surprising that there is not enough discussion about these matters given the increasing number of aging baby boomers.  Although British Columbia is the province most affected, this aging population issue must be addressed in all provinces of Canada.

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Black Pudding

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union flag

… or should that be Blood Pudding.  Black pudding would certainly win out as the name among any UK pensioners who are resident in Canada.  They may lose out by having their UK pensions frozen and not increased with inflation but at least they can enjoy many of the fine products from the old country.  For any searchers for black pudding, it can be found at Black Pudding Imports, Unit A 20243 62 Avenue in Langley, British Columbia.  Although this is not a very travelled avenue, it is easy to spot Black Pudding by the many Union flags that are displayed.  It’s well worth a visit.  I was so delighted to find it that I cannot resist telling others about it.  It also brought to mind the next post on frozen UK pension sponsors, so that was another reason for mentioning it.

Black Pudding really is an astonishing place.  A real cornucopia of all things British. You can choose from their wide variety of meats, cheeses, breads, pies, condiments, candies, frozen foods, soups and more…  Whatever product you may remember from the old country, it’s likely to be found here.

If you do not believe that, why not try a little test.  First think of a product and then check their list of products to find it.  If there is one missing, why not add a comment below on the omission.  I’m sure they will do their best to correct that if at all possible.

They are also wholesalers and supply some very fine eating establishments in British Columbia that provide traditional British fare. They supply Victoria’s Beagle Pub, located in the Cook Street Village, where you can enjoy their bacon, black pudding, and sausages.  Pub specials include Toad In The Hole (3 bangers in a Yorkshire pudding)  and a full British breakfast – back bacon , bangers, Heinz Baked Beans, eggs, tomatoes , mushrooms and hash browns.  Black Pudding also supply the newly-opened Yorkshire TeaShoppe in the village of Fort Langley.  There you can eat Bangers and Mash, Beef in Guinness Pie or a Ploughman’s Lunch.

If you are not certain whether you would like black pudding, then a BBC item, on black pudding: past and present may be helpful.

Black pudding, as made in the UK, is a blend of onions, pork fat, oatmeal, flavourings – and blood (usually from a pig). As long as animals have been slaughtered to provide food, blood sausages like black pudding have been in existence. Sources indicate that the corpulent sausage had its origins in ancient Greece, and Homer’s Odyssey makes poetic reference to the roasting of a stomach stuffed with blood and fat.

The art of pudding making has had an epic journey across Europe over the centuries. Today it’s a staple of menus across the Continent. The black pudding has a range of European relatives: Spanish morcilla makes an excellent tapas, and blutwurst is an intriguing Germanic variant; the boudin noir is a delicacy in France, sometimes containing rich ingredients like brandy and cream.

Unfortunately such traditional food items can be in peril in an age of standardization.  Apparently the good citizens of Stornoway in the islands off the west coast of Scotland are seeking to gain European protected status for the Stornoway Black Pudding.  As with the Arbroath Smokie there will be a need for research into the history of the product and local people are encouraged to gather their memories and stories.  Why not get in touch with them if you can help preserve the black pudding.

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