PayPal refund woes, sofa sticker shock: CBC's Marketplace cheat sheet

CBC's Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need from the week.

Consumer and health news you need from the week

Online shoppers say a loophole in the PayPal system has allowed vendors to exploit unsuspecting buyers with a bait-and-switch scheme involving the delivery of low-quality or counterfeit merchandise. (Jeff Chiu/The Associated Press)

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

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PayPal's purchase protection little help when it comes to bogus items, buyers say

When Sean Ralph bought a portable camp chair after seeing an ad on Facebook earlier this year, he felt comforted knowing the purchase would be protected by PayPal.

But when the camp chair arrived and it turned out to be different than advertised, Ralph says he ran into trouble with the company's refund process.

In order to receive a full refund, he says he was told by PayPal that he needed to send the item back to the original vendor in China, which would have cost far more than his initial purchase.

"It's a bait and switch," he said. "It's throwing good money after bad to try and ship it back to China, and you may or may not get a refund," said Ralph. Read more

WATCH | Item not as advertised:

Dubious online purchase leaves Ottawa man holding “one-foot footstool” instead of rocking lawn chair

8 months ago
Duration 2:06
Sean Ralph says he saw an online ad for a rocking camp chair and thought it might be perfect for relaxing after mountain bike rides. Six weeks later, he received a small folding footstool instead — and is now calling on PayPal to do more to protect customers. 2:06


Thinking of buying a new couch? The price may have just quadrupled

If you've made plans to buy a new sofa, you might experience some sticker shock as you shop around. 

Last month, Ottawa introduced new tariffs of up to 295 per cent on imported upholstered furniture from Vietnam and China.

The move came after a half dozen Canadian furniture producers complained that products from Vietnam and China were being dumped into Canada at prices that were wildly uncompetitive. Read more

Love Dodd runs Dodd's Furniture, a chain of home furnishings stores with three locations across Vancouver Island, employing about 80 people. He says the federal government's tariffs on upholstered furniture imported from China and Vietnam are hurting his business. (David Malysheff/CBC)

Amazon employee describes lax enforcement of COVID-19 precautions at Ottawa warehouse

An Amazon employee says working at the retail giant's Ottawa warehouse during the pandemic has been a nerve-racking experience, citing examples of safety measures that were allegedly ignored and dozens of workers who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The employee, who tested positive in late 2020, is one of 500 people who work at Amazon's distribution centre in Ottawa's rural east end. CBC News has agreed to protect the source's identity because they fear losing their job for speaking to the media.

While Amazon told CBC News it has a strict zero-tolerance policy for anyone violating COVID-19 procedures and that it works closely with Ottawa Public Health, the employee said demand at the warehouse has grown since the pandemic began, placing more pressure on workers to avoid safety protocols — particularly with regard to physical distancing. Read more

WATCH | 'Fear and anxiety' at Amazon:

Amazon employee describes ‘fear and anxiety’ of working at Ottawa warehouse during pandemic

8 months ago
Duration 1:06
An Amazon employee at the Ottawa warehouse says working conditions have been precarious during the pandemic, with dozens of workers testing positive for COVID-19. CBC News has agreed to protect the source's identity because they fear losing their job. 1:06

What else is going on?

More Canadians turning to cannabis to help deal with pandemic pressures
Increased stress, boredom, loneliness cited as reasons for using cannabis.

Finance minister blasts Air Canada for paying $10M executive bonuses while receiving bailout
Finance minister says 'companies receiving money from the government have a duty to behave responsibly'

Tepui Hybox Wedge rooftop tents recalled due to potential injury hazard
Stop using the product and contact Thule Sweden AB for a full refund or a free of charge tent replacement.

Ottawa ups fine to $5,000 for travellers who refuse to quarantine in a hotel
An advisory panel said last week hotel quarantine system is flawed.

Marketplace needs your help

We've heard you loud and clear: Canadian home-buyers are tired of blind bidding! So what could a more transparent sales process look like in Canada? Let's find out. If you're planning on selling your home in the near future and are interested in trying an open bidding process we want to hear from you. Email us at

Attention tech shoppers! Have you bought a new gadget lately? Did you buy new or refurbished?  Share your experience with us. When it comes to quality, warranty and returns, what do you think? Email us at

Catch up on past episodes of Marketplace anytime on CBC Gem.

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