In 2021, numerous British Columbians turned to Anne Drewa and Consumer Matters for help.
Drewa investigated their cases, and held corporations and businesses to account, getting funds and justice for residents.
Here are the top five stories of the year from Consumer Matters.
In August, Henrietta Veenstra of Squamish had a warning for drivers planning to rent a vehicle: read the fine print of your rental insurance policy.
Veenstra was hit with a $4,424.50 bill after she was caught in a major hailstorm that damaged a truck she had ranted. She had assumed her credit card would fully cover her, but she later discovered that that insurance didn’t include pickup trucks.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada says it’s important to read the fine print of any insurance policy.
“The bottom line is that if you are renting a vehicle, make a call to your insurance provider to better understand the coverage that you have and the coverage you might need to ensure you are properly protected in case something happens,” Rob de Pruis, a director with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said.
In March, a B.C. woman contacted Consumer Matters after she refused to accept a voucher for a Sunwing flight that was cancelled because of the pandemic.Summer Barger booked a $2,100 package to fly from Calgary to the Dominican Republic, but those plans were sidelined when COVID hit.
Initially, Barger said the airline offered her the option of a refund, but shortly changed its policy and offered only a voucher.
Consumer Matters intervened and was able to get her money back.
In October, a Surrey man shared his story with Consumer Matters about his tax-filing nightmare in which the Canada Revenue Agency claimed he owed more than $139,000.Brian Kirkham’s wife died in 2016. Her RRSPs were transferred to Kirkham as spouse and beneficiary. The transfer resulted in a neutral tax situation where no tax is payable, but Kirkham said the CRA insisted he owed income tax on about $240,000 in transferred funds.
Kirkham had been dealing with the issue for five years. Consumer Matters reached out to the CRA on his behalf, and a week and a half later, he received a phone call from the revenue agency, stating it had resolved the issue.
In June, a Nanaimo woman turned to Consumer Matters around Canadian Tire’s policy on loyalty points.
Susan Brown’s husband unexpectedly died in April. When she went to close his account, she said Canadian Tire told her his loyalty points were non-transferable because he was the primary cardholder.
For decades, the couple had enjoyed collecting Canadian Tire dollars, and later the loyalty points.
After Consumer Matters contacted the corporation, Brown said she received a $250 gift card — more than the value of her late husband’s points.
She said she’s grateful for the card, but would rather see Canadian Tire change its policy.
A B.C. artist had a warning for others in October after his sandblast carving shipped via Canada Post arrived at its destination in pieces.
Brett Robinson said he paid $60 for insurance after telling the post office the item was fragile, only to discover Canada Post holds no liability for damage of shipments containing fragile items.
“They never told me that their insurance doesn’t cover glass,” Robinson said. “They never explained to me anything about that.”
Consumer Matters reached out to Canada Post about Robinson’s case and received the following response:
“When an item arrives at the post office, we have no way of inspecting the contents and how they were packaged by the sender. During processing through our network, a package travels on a series of conveyor belts and chutes, will tumble or get jostled in the process and can end up being squeezed by heavier items.”
Robinson said he will not ship with the Crown corporation again.