Canada’s largest discount furniture and appliance retailer was ordered to pay $2.36 million, including $1 million in punitive damages, to thousands of consumers after Quebec Superior Court found that it engaged in deceptive advertising and marketing with its popular “buy now, pay later” promotions.
The ruling, one of a handful of Quebec class actions that was decided on its merits, represents a convincing victory for consumer’s rights and serves as a cautionary tale for business that rely on false and misleading advertising pitches to lure customers, according to legal experts.
A Quebec telecommunications firm, Vidéotron Inc., has been ordered to pay more than $3 million in punitive damages to consumers who were charged extra when the Internet service provider unilaterally modified the terms of their so-called “Extreme High Speed” service, held the Quebec Court of Appeal.
In a decision that examines the scope of contractual obligations, the appeal court held that a unilateral modification clause contained in the contract did not authorize Vidéotron to impose fees that “had not been agreed to in the initial contract or to modify goods and services described” in the contract. The unilateral clause in this case would have meant that consumers waived their rights conferred by sections 12 and 40 of the Quebec Consumer Protection Act (Act) – and that is prohibited by sections 261 and 262 of the Act.
A class action against an automobile manufacturer that was dismissed by a lower court was partially overturned by the Quebec Court of Appeal after it held that Mazda Canada Inc. failed to disclose “important information” to consumers in a timely manner.
Hailed as a victory for consumers, the appeal court’s decision bucks the nationwide growing trend against economic loss based tort claims, and serves a clear reminder to manufacturers that it is in their best interests to promptly inform consumers over “important facts” regarding their products and to fix products afflicted with latent defects expeditiously, according to consumer law experts.