May 7, 1965 (26th Parliament, 3rd Session)


William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

In any event, I am sure the hon. Member for Spadina would agree to
Consumer Credit Controls including such a cooling off period as part of the provisions of this proposed legislation. I am sure that no one here who has considered this matter would object to such a cooling off period.
Mr. Speaker, I do not know why we are so stupid in this House, but we are stupid. We have been unable to adopt machinery to prevent certain things from happening of the kind which I am sure this bill is intended to prevent. A day or two ago a young lady came to me within an hour of the time she had signed a contract under which she would receive a free $600 stereo set by purchasing a number of records at an exorbitant price. She was talked into signing this contract by a high pressure salesman in an office here in the House of Commons. She came to me and suggested that she had been taken. She certainly had been taken. I do not suggest that the company which this high pressure salesman represented is completely dishonest in its advertising, but I can assure you that she did not understand what she was getting into.
This young lady was high pressured into signing this contract. I got in touch with the company in question and suggested that the salesman had better come back to his office and tear up the contract, because if he did not I was going to raise an awful fuss. I do not intend to use any names regarding this case, because in the final analysis that is what took place. I asked the gentleman to whom I spoke what length of cooling off period was allowed following the signing of one of these contracts-whether it was 24 hours, two days, two hours, six hours or what. He did not understand what I was referring to. I said that I wanted the salesman back immediately so that we could dispose of this matter. Apparently this company had just commenced its campaign in Ottawa and, after some discussion with the salesman involved, it was decided that they would go along with my suggestion, because it would be less expensive to them, having set up this sales campaign, than risking a great deal of adverse publicity.
This a rather long and complicated example, but it is typical of the kind of thing that happens every day in Canada. For this reason I suggest there should be a cooling off period of two or four days. The young lady to whom I referred did not want a stereo in Ottawa in the first place, and having signed the contract realized within an hour that she had made a mistake. When the
Consumer Credit Controls salesman did reappear he was informed that he could not collect the money or enforce the contract because the young lady was under age and did not have her parents' consent to enter into such a contract. The salesman Anally agreed to tearing up the contract, but in the process of explaining its terms to the young lady he almost convinced her that she should sign another contract. I was only listening to the conversation with one ear because I did not wish to become involved, but I was able to ascertain the type of high pressure salesmanship that he used.
What would a fellow in the country do after he had signed a contract to purchase aluminum siding for his house, which had been sold to him under similar circumstances, but which he could not by any stretch of the imagination afford? I am aware of one case of this kind where an individual agreed to the purchase of aluminum siding for his house only to And afterwards that it was going to cost him $3,300. This individual is now applying for welfare because he cannot afford to make the payments.
I suggest that the examples I have given are not unusual cases. On the contrary, they are taking place every day in various parts of Canada. The kind of bill proposed by the hon. Member for Spadina, if passed, would do a lot to protect Canadians from the tactics of salesmen of companies of the kind to which I referred. Surely we do not need more study of this subject. I am sure that if the hon. Members in attendance today were asked to raise their hands if they were not completely aware of this kind of situation there would not be a hand raised. It is high time that we had in Canada legislation of this type, and I am sure that the Minister, who is in the House, would support me in this regard. If we pass this bill I am sure we will do a great deal to eliminate this kind of hoodwinking and dishonesty by shysters who travel throughout this country selling products of no real value, on the basis of no down payment and so much a month. These companies are not bona Ade companies, but Ay by night operations which, after selling an area and completing their campaigns, in turn sell these promissory notes to third parties.
By allowing a cooling off period in respect of these so-called discount transactions we would do a lot to eliminate this type of business. This would allow at least some time for an individual to reconsider the proposition and talk it over with his wife, if not also give him enough time to make an intelligent decision as to the actual value of the product

DEBATES May 7. 1965
involved. In my opinion the hon. Member for Spadina will have done Canada a great service if this bill is passed. I hope there will not be a suggestion that it be referred to a committee for further consideration. The hon. Member for Spadina I am sure will agree to amending the bill to include a cooling off period, and I hope that this can be done this afternoon and the bill passed without further discussion. I am sure that the Cabinet Minister who is here will obtain unanimous consent of the House if he asks for an extension of time this afternoon to complete the consideration and passage of this bill.

Topic:   FINANCE
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