YOUR FINANCES » RUNNING A BUSINESS
Help for small businesses: Don't
pay for what you can get for free
Broadcast: March 14, 2000
Gorzen has been in the cell phone business for a couple of
years now. He owns a couple of Cantel stores in Winnipeg.
A couple of months ago his wife Sue started up her own business
as well a real estate marketing company.
Eager to get some
help with start up costs and after seeing a magazine
ad, she sent away for a package from a company called
the "Small Business
Consumer Centre." It promised to help the couple access
some of the millions df dollars available each year in
government grants and loans.
was thinking, 'Perfect!' I wanted to start my own business.
What better way to start but with a grant?" says Sue.
The couple paid $297 plus shipping
and taxes for the package. The total cost was $358. But
shortly after the package arrived the Gorzens got a surprise:
a friend told them they had wasted their money.
"As soon as I mentioned the name of
it he said, 'As soon as you get it in the mail, mark it
return to sender and send it back. Don't open it,'" recalls
Why? Because the Gorzens could have
got all the same information without paying a dime simply
by coming to the Canada/Manitoba Business Service Centre.
Government offices are located across the country to help
Canadians set up businesses.
Trained staff are on hand to answer
questions regarding government financial help. All the
information is also available for free on the Internet.
As Shannon Coughlin, who runs the
C/MBSC looked at the book, she discovered some problems.
For instance, this program listed in the 2000 edition,
ended in January 1999.
"I can see
some programs that have been
or are no longer
says. "When we have the information in the Canada
Manitoba Business Service Centre here, it's updated and
refreshed on a daily basis."
Small Business Consumer Centre has had trouble before.
A couple of years ago the Competition Bureau forced the
company to reimburse customers because the company advertised
it was a government-authorized information distributor.
The Gorzons tried phoning the Small
Business Consumer Centre to try to get their money back.
But they didn't get far.
last response right before he hung up the phone was 'I've
got your money, you've got your product, good bye' and
click," Stuart says.
That came as a surprise to Gorzen,
because of the satisfaction guarantee that came with the
We tried to on numerous occasions
to phone the company our calls were never returned. We
did talk to a supervisor in Montreal named Mark Byrne who
said he didn't speak for the company but did tell us:
are a business. We sell our research for them. They
don't have to do it. We're not going to sit here
for an hour and explain to them how they can go about
But a day after a our call to the
company the same representative called Gorzen back now
offering a refund.
"It's pretty disappointing for a company
that has to have pressure put on them you know through
media or contact with me or the customer to in order to
get to this point," Stuart muses. "I mean a simple
phone call should have been enough."