Ordering flowers online and funeral home upselling: CBC's Marketplace consumer cheat sheet

CBC's Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need from the week, including testing "Canada's official florist," more warnings about romaine lettuce contaminated with E. coli, and our follow-up hidden camera investigation into funeral home sales tactics.

Newsletter: Consumer and health news you need from the week

Marketplace returned to five Arbor funeral homes in Ontario earlier this year with hidden cameras to test if changes had been made to the company's aggressive sales in the wake of a 2017 investigation. (CBC)

Miss something this week? Don't panic. CBC's Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need.

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Testing 'Canada's official florist'

After hearing from Marketplace viewers, we tested one of the biggest online florists to see if what we bought would match what we got. Ottawa-based Bloomex advertises "fast, fresh and fair service," but Pat Hodnett told us the bouquet she ordered for her sister-in-law's funeral was ruined when it arrived as a handful of "cheap" carnations. After Bloomex refused a discount off her next order, it took a complaint to Ontario's Ministry of Government and Consumer Services for her to receive a refund.

Pat Hodnett says the bouquet she ordered last year from Bloomex for her sister-in-law's funeral was incredibly different than what was advertised on the site. (David MacIntosh/CBC)

WTF happened to romaine lettuce?

You might want to order the fries and skip the salad. The Public Health Agency of Canada is warning Canadians in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick to avoid romaine lettuce, but still hasn't issued a formal recall. Grocery chains across the country moved quickly to take the product — which could be contaminated with E. coli — off their shelves. If there's some in your fridge at home, experts warn there is no point in trying to wash the bacteria away. 

A similar outbreak last year sickened people and it also wasn't met with an immediate recall. The outbreak has made at least 22 people sick in Canada and the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the contaminated greens likely came from California. 

The E. coli contamination of romaine lettuce has made at least 22 people sick in Canada. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

Back-to-work bill for Canada Post

Your parcels may still be stuck in the Canada Post backlog, but the federal government is trying to change that. The Liberals have begun the process to force postal workers back on the job, but the union representing the carriers says that's a violation of their constitutional rights. The labour minister says the government still hopes for a negotiated settlement, but that people in rural and remote communities are relying on mailed cheques to pay bills.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says back-to-work legislation will be used if the two sides in the Canada Post dispute can't come to an agreement. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Why some experts argue we need pharmacare

Do you find yourself reducing spending in order to pay for drugs prescribed by your doctor? New research from the University of British Columbia says Canadians are going into debt to pay for their medications. The study found those going into debt tended to be younger, had lower household income, chronic medical conditions and no prescription drug insurance.

Younger Canadians and those without private insurance were more likely to take on debt, researchers from the University of British Columbia found. (Shutterstock)

Cloth vs. disposable diapers

Have you considered a greener alternative to diapers for your infant? Some Canadians have started using cloth diapers in order to avoid sending thousands of diapers to landfills. But it can take a lot to get a cloth diaper clean, and another option is recycling disposables. The City of Toronto has been turning parts of disposable diapers into compost since 2002.

Each year, billions of disposable diapers make their way to landfills across North America. (Lindsay Bird/CBC)

What else is going on?

Loblaws is ramping up self-checkout with new technology called "shop and scan." Customers can scan items while shopping with a phone app — part of an effort to streamline the shopping experience and reduce labour costs. Some shoppers are rejecting the idea because they prefer interacting with a cashier.

An online glitch left a retiree on the hook for an Air Canada flight he didn't book. Claude Neblett spent months trying to get a refund from Air Canada. He eventually got his money back after CBC's Go Public contacted the company.

Whirlpool refused to honour this Oakville, Ont., man's 10-year fridge warranty. Naji Alimam's seven-year-old fridge hasn't worked since August. He wanted to warn others about companies not living up to its warranties.

This week in recalls

This plastic doll and furniture toy set could pose a chemical hazard; these vaping products do not meet requirements of the Consumer Chemicals and Containers Regulations; this play tent could pose fire and burn hazards; this air compressor could cause injury.

Watch this week: Flower Delivery & Death Inc. Part 2

We tested one of the biggest online florists by ordering five bouquets for ourselves. Experts call what we received "embarrassing." Plus, we're back on the case checking in on funeral homes. A new hidden camera investigation reveals some are still upselling and rule breaking.


Avneet Dhillon is a multi-platform journalist with CBC News based in Toronto.


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