Lakeshore couple questions credit practice at Windsor store

People say they were told to initial an area accepting a credit insurance charge without being told what they were signing at Tepperman's

Extra charge discovered months later

Muntaha Hannona points to a contract she and her husband signed with Tepperman's that included a charge for credit insurance. (Dale Molnar CBC News)

A Lakeshore couple say they unwittingly signed up for a credit protection plan they didn't need while purchasing furniture and appliances at a Windsor store.

Muntaha Hannona and her husband signed a contract for a 24-month, interest-free, agreement back in June of 2017 at Tepperman's.

She says while going through the agreement being shown where to sign, the customer assistant told her husband to put his initials on a line without explaining what it was.

"They go so fast and you don't have time to soak it all in and ask questions," said Hannona.

When the couple went in to pay the balance off a few months ago, they found they owed more than they thought they did - $223.74 more.

That's because her husband put his initials on a line accepting an insurance policy on the purchase. It was for $8.75 per month.

"They make you initial here but they don't explain that you have a choice here to decline," said Hannona, pointing out the blanks.

Muntaha Hannona points to the line pertaining to the credit protection insurance her husband initialled. (Dale Molnar CBC News)

The Hannona's complained and the store eventually removed the charge.

Bruce Cran, president of the Consumer's Association of Canada, says they receive a lot of similar complaints.

"If you do sign a box or tick a box or whatever it is you're really stating that you've read that piece of the contract," said Cran from his office in Vancouver. "It's a practice that's very common. We get complaints about it almost on a daily basis."

Cran says these payment protection plans are offered by most of the major stores. But he says it's very difficult to prove anything illegal was done.

"Quite often when these things are challenged the main company will back off and not demand the payment," said Cran.

Tepperman's furniture and appliance store in Windsor. (Dale Molnar CBC News )

Tepperman's president Andrew Tepperman says they do not tell their customer assistants to try to dupe anyone into accepting the insurance. 

"We are a 93 year-old family company and would never do something without our customers permission," said Tepperman. "If this was our approach we would not be in business. We regret any misunderstanding with Ms. Hannona and are thankful for her raising the issue and allowing us to refund her the costs."

Tepperman isn't sure what happened in this case, but says it might be possible the customer assistant going through the contract accidentally neglected to explain the protection policy.

"We definitely train our people to ensure that the customer knows this is optional and how much it costs," said Tepperman.

In an email from Tepperman he explains that the staff are trained extensively on how to go through a contract with customers.​​

Tepperman says the credit insurance pays off the outstanding balance on a payment plan if the customer can't pay for some reason. He says lots of people have been opting for the insurance after the recent floods

"Our staff indicate that the insurance is optional and identify key elements of the coverages," writes Tepperman.

"Once we are done explaining the contract we ask if there are any questions.  We answer any questions then ask them to initial acceptance of the credit insurance if that is their choice," writes Tepperman.

But Hannona doesn't buy it. But she did go back to Tepperman's to buy a TV. She says they like the prices at the store and the delivery service. But this time, Hannona was sure to opt out of the insurance policy.

"We have house insurance. We don't need insurance," she said.

Cran says the big problem is that the contracts are confusing. And without clear direction from the salesperson, customers may not realise what they're signing.

"The buyer doesn't come away with an understanding that he's paying for some sort of airy-fairy insurance agreement. And a lot of people are upset by this," adds Cran.

About the Author

Dale Molnar

Video Journalist

Dale Molnar is an award-winning video journalist at CBC Windsor. He is a graduate of the University of Windsor and has worked in television, radio and print.