Consumer advocate George Iny says a new law that protects auto buyers has been a long-time coming. It's called Saskatchewan's Consumer Protections and Business Practices Act.

Starting Feb. 1, auto dealers in Saskatchewan have to give buyers a "drive away price" that includes any fees and levies coming from the dealership. Those extra fees can range anywhere from $400 to $1,200.

'We've done many, several dozen, visits with hidden cameras rolling. The explanations you get verbally are ludicrous, deceptive and sometimes fraudulent.' - George Iny, consumer advocate

"There's a charge for paperwork, and there's something called a green tire levy," said Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association. "These things are all fake charges. They're made to look like payments to government."

Without legislation, Iny said it's very difficult to get around paying these charges. If you refuse to pay, dealers often refuse to sell you the vehicle.

"Dealers are absolutely unrepentant about this stuff," he said. "We've done many, several dozen, visits with hidden cameras rolling. The explanations you get verbally are ludicrous, deceptive and sometimes fraudulent."

Iny said the hidden fees appeared around ten years ago, mainly because of tightening margins from car makers, squeezing the profits of dealerships.

Saskatchewan follows lead of other provinces

Saskatchewan is now the sixth province in the country to have the consumer legislation. Provinces with their own version of the act include:

  • Ontario
  • Manitoba
  • Quebec
  • British Columbia
  • Alberta

Saskatchewan's provincial government said the act was drafted after receiving a number of complaints from the public. One-third of all complaints to consumer protection division were about car dealers.