Wal-Mart incorrectly charges enviro fee for speaker wire

A national chain store has apologized after a Thunder Bay man complained he was improperly charged an environmental handling fee.

Thunder Bay's Brad Oulton noticed an extra $4 charge on his receipt, alerted Wal-Mart to the error

Wal-Mart has apologized to a Thunder Bay customer for improperly charging him an environmental fee. The company says it will refund Brad Oulton the $4 fee he was charged. (CBC)

A national chain store has apologized after a Thunder Bay man complained he was improperly charged an environmental handling fee.

Brad Oulton bought a $25 set of speaker wire at Wal-Mart on Fort William Road last week.

On his way out the door, he noticed an extra $4 charge on the receipt.

Brad Oulton of Thunder Bay says he was improperly charged for an environmental handling fee. He wants fees marked on packaging. (Supplied)

"I was concerned that Wal-Mart was charging consumers fees on items that weren't supposed to be charged fees on,” he told CBC News.

The non-profit organization that collects environmental handling fees in Ontario said Oulton should not have been charged the fee.

"The fee would apply to amplifiers and speakers, but not wires like this," Ontario Electronic Stewardship communications director Sandra Pakosh wrote in an email.

Changes coming

Wal-Mart said it apologizes for the mistake, and is working to correct the issue.

"We take this issue very seriously and wish to apologize to the customer for any inconvenience we have caused," Wal-Mart public relations manager Rosalyn Carneiro told CBC News in an email.

"We thank him for bringing this to our attention and anticipate having the issue corrected in approximately 48 hours, after which time the customer can return to the store for a refund of the fee."

Oulton said products that come with an environmental fee should be more clearly marked.

"There should be some identification on the product," he said.

"Then you would know before you [go] to the check-out that there was some kind of fee applied to it."

A spokesperson for the provincial Ministry of the Environment said that could happen soon.

"The proposed Waste Reduction Act would eliminate surprise 'eco-fees' at the cash register by requiring any recycling charge to be included in the advertised and shelf prices," Mark Rabbior told CBC News in an email.

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