Competition Bureau takes action against donation bin operators

News Release

Bureau seeks an end to false representations so Canadians know where their donations go

May 11, 2016 — OTTAWA, ON — Competition Bureau

The Competition Bureau has sent warning letters to two clothing donation bins operators in the Montreal area requiring them to make corrections to the information on their bins.

The bins gave the false or misleading impression that all or part of the proceeds went to charitable organizations, when in fact they were used for commercial purposes. This practice raises concerns under the deceptive marketing provisions of the Competition Act.

In 2014, the Bureau took similar action in Vancouver, which resulted in for‑profit businesses correcting the false or misleading information on their donation bins.

The Bureau is continuing to monitor the situation in Montreal and elsewhere in the country, and will not hesitate to take action if it suspects that other organizations are using a similar approach. Consumers and businesses with information on donation bins with false or misleading information are encouraged to submit a complaint to the Bureau.

To ensure that donations end up in the right place and determine whether donations are truly going to charitable organizations, consumers should read our consumer advisory.

Quick Facts

  • Clothing donation bins, often located in parking lots or near public buildings, encourage donations by featuring the names and logos of various charities.
  • Organizations that use these bins for commercial purposes may even imitate the donation bins of real charitable organizations to give the false or misleading impression that you are giving to charity.
  • Charities depend on these donations to help the community. False or misleading signs on bins result in reduced donations, making collection less effective and endangering charities.

Quotes

"Misleading information on clothing donation bins has a negative effect on the charities that depend on the public’s donations to survive. The Bureau has taken action to ensure that the information provided to consumers is clear and truthful, allowing them to make informed decisions. We hope that this sends a strong message to other companies considering using a similarly deceptive approach."

Matthew Boswell
Senior Deputy Commissioner

"We would like to thank the Competition Bureau for their investigation of charity donation bins. In the greater Montreal area, some organizations collect used clothing for commercial purposes. This practice causes serious harm to legitimate organizations like ours."

Philippe Siebes
Managing Director, Le Support — Fondation de la déficience intellectuelle

"The situation is not exclusive to Montreal; it is also a problem in surrounding areas and seems to be spreading eastward. We commend the work of the Competition Bureau in this file and encourage municipalities to take action to ensure legitimate charitable organizations are not harmed by the proliferation of donation bins exploited for commercial purposes."

Hélène House
Director, Business Development and Communications , Entraide diabétique du Québec

"Big Brothers and Big Sisters Foundation of Montreal commends the Competition Bureau for its work, and we hope that this initiative will foster honest and healthy competition among donation bin operators."

Jean Laberge
Executive Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation of Montreal

Related Information

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