B.C. man sets off class-action lawsuit against UPS over hidden brokerage fees
17:51:11 EDT Oct 24, 2006
Canadian Press: TERRI THEODORE
VANCOUVER (CP) - Hidden fees seem to be an everyday irritant for consumers, but a B.C. man is so angry about a fee charged by United Parcel Service he's willing to become the point man for a class-action lawsuit.
It started after Robert Macfarlane purchased an amplified telephone device from Arizona over the Internet last year. He knew he would have to pay shipping and handling fees and government levies, but he was also ordered to pay a $38.40 brokerage fee charged by UPS.
"It's outrageous," said Macfarlane's lawyer Jim Poyner.
"It's a surcharge that nobody agrees to, nobody knows anything about it until the delivery person is at the door."
Poyner said Tuesday he expects hundreds of thousands of people have been in the same situation across the country, and there are plans to file a similar lawsuit in Ontario.
"It's certainly a problem that affects the entire country."
The lawsuit has been filed under the Class Proceedings Act, but the B.C. Supreme Court must first determine if the case fits the criteria for a class-action lawsuit.
The court action claims the UPS brokerage fee is "so harsh and adverse as to constitute an unconscionable practice."
The same Canada Post service for goods shipped from the United States to Canada costs $5.00.
A spokesman for UPS was unavailable for an interview.
Poyner said people are usually never told there will be an added fee until there's a knock on the door.
"(The delivery person) has your goods in one hand and the other hand is out wanting to be paid more money," he said.
The lawsuit accuses UPS of misleading and deceptive practices by failing to get the consumer's consent, not telling the consumer about the fee and not allowing the consumer to arrange their own customs clearance.
Not only does Macfarlane want his own money back, but the lawsuit wants everyone who paid the fee reimbursed.
Poyner said the other major goal of such a lawsuit is what the court calls "behaviour modification."
In one of 10 remedies requested in Macfarlane's statement of claim, it asks for a permanent injunction stopping UPS from continuing to charge the fee.
It also asks for punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages.
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