Competition Bureau accuses water heater rental companies of abuse of dominance

by The Canadian Press Posted Dec 20, 2012 3:58 pm MDT Competition Bureau accuses water heater rental companies of abuse of dominance AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email TORONTO – The federal competition watchdog is accusing two companies of “abuse of dominance” in Ontario’s market for rental home water heaters.The Competition Bureau says it’s seeking a total of $25 million in financial penalties — $15 million from Direct Energy and $10 million from Reliance Comfort.The companies say they’ll oppose the allegations before the Competition Tribunal, the federal agency that hears cases brought by the bureau.The Competition Bureau says the companies have return policies and procedures that are designed to prevent consumers from switching to a competitor. The bureau also says customers are subjected to aggressive retention tactics when they call to return a rented water heater.It also alleges there are unwarranted fees and charges as well as restrictions on when and where water heaters can be returned.Reliance Comfort Limited Partnership said it was disappointed by the bureau’s action, saying it had been in “co-operative discussions” about its return policies.It also insisted that its return procedures are designed to protect consumers from aggressive sales tactics by its rivals, who want home owners to change suppliers.“Reliance intends to vigorously defend its current practices that it firmly believes are in best interests of its customers,” said Roger Rossi, president and CEO of Reliance Comfort.“The action taken against us today will not clean up the well-documented problem of misleading sales tactics used by competitors’ door-to-door salespeople. We believe that taking action against these unlawful practices should be the priority of the Competition Bureau.”In a separate announcement, Direct Energy also said it would “vigorously defend” its position and denied the bureau’s allegations.“Direct Energy strongly believes that all customers and homeowners deserve to have all of the necessary information for them to make informed and intelligent choices. Such practices and procedures do not inhibit competition,” it said. read more

UN officials outraged at accounts of Sri Lanka war crimes stress need

The comments by the Secretary-General’s Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, and on the Responsibility to Protect, Jennifer Welsh, follow the release yesterday of a report by the UN human rights office (OHCHR) that identified patterns of grave violations, including indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, harrowing accounts of torture and sexual violence, and recruitment of children. Welcoming the report, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hoped that its recommendations will help support the efforts of the people and the Government of Sri Lanka “to carve a durable path towards long-lasting peace and stability and respect for human rights, through a genuine and credible process of accountability and reconciliation that meets international standards.“The victims of all communities, their families and the Sri Lankan nation itself demand no less than a full and proper reckoning,” he added in a statement issued by his spokesperson.Indeed, the report recommended the establishment of a hybrid special court to ensure that justice is served.“Sri Lanka has gone through a very dark period of its history during the years of the conflict, which has caused immense suffering for all communities,” the Secretary-General’s Special Advisers stated. “Accountability is not just a matter of justice; it is also a matter of reconciliation, peace and non-recurrence,” they continued. “The wounds of the past need to be properly treated and healed in order to write a new peaceful page in Sri Lankan history.”The Special Advisers called for the establishment of accountability and reconciliation mechanisms that would meet international human rights law standards.“This is a process that will be painful and difficult, but indispensable for long-lasting peace and stability in the country,” they added.Ms. Welsh stressed that the Sri Lankan Government has the primary responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. “This responsibility entails bringing to account those responsible for crimes committed but also taking concrete steps to prevent their recurrence.”For his part, Mr. Dieng cautioned that outstanding grievances among Sinhalese and Tamil communities could pave the way to further violence. The Special Advisers highlighted that respect for diversity and intercultural dialogue and non-discrimination must be incorporated into national level policies. They also recommended that the Government ensure greater representation of all ethnic and religious communities.“The voices of the minorities need to be heard because they too are Sri Lankan,” they stressed. read more