03/27/2013 03:42 EDT

False Advertising Canada: More Canadians Complaining About Misleading Prices, Watchdog Says


The economic slump of recent years is changing the way Canadian consumers think, and that’s being reflected in the sorts of complaints being made about false advertising.

According to a new report from Advertising Standards Canada, for the second year in a row Canadians complained more about misleading prices in ads than about offensive ads — the traditional target of scorn.

With the current uncertain economic climate, the nature of consumers’ complaints about advertising is changing,” AdStandards vice-president Janet Feasby said in a statement.

In all, Canadians filed 1,310 complaints about 1,057 advertisements in 2012, a 28 per cent drop from the year before, but “consistent with traditional complaint volumes,” the report stated.

Of those, AdStandards confirmed that 87 ads violated its advertisers’ code of conduct.

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Photo gallery Industries With The Most Ad Complaints Canada 2012 See Gallery

The retail industry was the single biggest target of complaints, garnering 247 complaints, or about one-fifth of the total. The service, food and automotive industries also ranked near the top for complaints.

“Canadian consumers care about getting value for their money, good deals and low prices,” the report stated. “In today’s highly competitive retail environment, many retailers advertised price match guarantees, offering to match or beat their competitors’ prices on the same or similar products. Savvy consumers paid attention, and when a retailer did not honour its advertised promise, ASC heard about it.”

Television advertising accounted for nearly half of all complaints (559), while Internet ads came in second (280). Transit and billboard ads came in third, with 92 complaints.