Ever since I can remember I've heard the comment that there is "no difference" between Canadians and Americans. I respectfully beg to differ as there is a difference on so many levels! We have unique Canadian culture consisting of Canadianisms, a Canadian perspective on world events, Canadian cuisine as well as products and foods only available in Canada. This blog is dedicated to celebrating all things Canadian from "my perspective" as a Canadian. Please enjoy your visit and be sure to visit often.

Garden Gnome
Americans should never underestimate the constant pressure on Canada which the mere presence of the United States has produced. We're different people from you and we're different people because of you. Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is effected by every twitch and grunt. It should not therefore be expected that this kind of nation, this Canada, should project itself as a mirror image of the United States.
- Pierre Trudeau

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Business Wall of Shame - Home Depot

The new HST that comes into effect on July 1, 2010 has been the subject of much debate.  One company has been cashing in on the PST for the past 18 months even though the HST was not in effect!  That company is Home Depot in British Columbia earning them a position of my Business Wall of Shame.

We all know that big business gives a rat's pattoie about the little guy but Home Depot has really taken the cake with this one.  The US based company blamed a computer glitch that has charged customers PST for the past 18 months on tax-exempt items in British Columbia.  They (Dan McAreavey, Home Depot spokesman) have apologized to customers and have admitted they should be aware of the tax laws in this country.  Home Depot has stated they will refund the HST collected to those who bring in their receipts.

One customer, Tosh Suzuki (Delta, BC) was overcharged about $70 in PST on tax exempt items dating back to January 2009.  He noticed he had been charged PST on several tax exempt items when checking receipts for Live Smart, BC's home improvement tax credit program.  According to Suzuki this has wide implications for other consumers who also participated in the same two government incentive program.  Despite several complaints including one to the head office of Home Depot, Suzuki got little response.  In fact he continued to be charged PST when shopping at Home Depot for tax exempt items so he contacted CBC news who confirmed that Home Depot in several locations in British Columbia were indeed charging the 7% PST on tax exempt items.

There are currently 179 Home Depot outlets in Canada.  British Columbia's 25 Home Depot stores accounted for almost $1 B of the $6.8 B reported annual sales in 2009.  An accountant when asked by CBC estimated that customers could have been overcharged $3.3 million in taxes in 2009 alone.  While Home Depot maintains it has not benefited from this error, at the very least the BC government did.  Britishc Columbia's finance minister, Colin Hansen has indicated the province is now investigating this matter.  Any company found to be overcharging PST could face numerous sanctions including inspections, desk audits, audits at a business location and investigations.  Taxpayer over paying the PST by $10 or mor can apply for a refund upto four years from the date of purchase from the Ministry of Finance which differs significantly from what Suzuki was told when he contacted the Ministry.

From this Canadian's perspective, since Home Depot claims to have not profitted from the glitch then the BC government did.  Most consumers do not keep their receipts from retain stores longer than 30 days or the length of time specified by the store's return policy.  Those keeping them for a year are doing so to for a particular reason such as a government grant but very few of even those will keep the recipts for 4 years.  So here the BC government is sitting pretty with all the extra money collected via Home Depot thanks to their glitch and all anyone can say is I'm sorry?  Well Canadians are getting tired of the I'm Sorry GameIn my opinion not only should every Canadian boycott Home Depot but there should be a federal investigation into the BC provincial government for taking monies that they were not entitled to take.  A simple I'm sorry doesn't cut it in this case!


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