CT Weasels

Last week, after our fabulous experience geocaching, we decided to buy a map enabled hand held GPS unit.

Here’s the short story.

Whatever you do, do not buy one at Canadian Tire.

Here’s why:

can tire price

I admit it, I was in a hurry.

We’d done our homework and knew we wanted the Garmin 60C.

We quickly checked the web for availability and that our local Canadian Tire Store (North Vancouver) had one in stock.

We trotted down only to discover the sporting good counter to be a total mess of boxes, papers, and assorted detritus – and no staff person to be found. We pushed the electronic call button. After 20 minutes, someone finally showed up.

We told him what we wanted and he pulled out the box and away we went.

Customer wait time = 21 minutes. Time spent with customer = 1 minute.

The next day was Sunday, and while looking for some information on software for the unit (the clerk at CT didn’t have a clue about any) I came across my new favourite store, Deakin Equipment.

deakin is great

Not only did they have software, they had the same unit for 50 dollars LESS, plus a 25 dollar one-time coupon. These stores are a 10 minute drive apart.

What I should have done was return the GPS at CT and buy the one at Deakin. It was a Sunday, and Deakin was closed.

My son Matthew had noticed a ‘price gaurantee’ sign at CT, so I called, they said said YES, just bring down proof of a lower price.

So off we went again.

15 minutes in line at Customer Service, and we’re told that the guarantee is only if you show them the lower price BEFORE you buy something.

Huh ? I look up at the guarantee sign directly in front of me. It’s posted on the wall. It doesn’t say that.

I point out this anomaly to the clerk. Besides, I had called first and was told they would honour the price guarantee.

She checks. Yes, ok, we’ll make an exception.
And exception ? At this point, I’m finding customer service to be a tad customer annoying.

Here’s the exact text of the sign (I made them give me a copy)

Price Match Guarantee
Canadian Tire will match any competitor’s price on an identical item AND give customers an extra 10% of the lower price in Canadian Tire “money”.
The competitor’s lower price must be verifiable (advertised price, flyer, phone call, etc.)
Whether an item is ‘identical’ will be determined by looking at:
– product features

Any questions over whether an item is ‘identical’ will be resolved on a case-by-case basis by the Dealer, Store Manger, General Manager or other appointed Manager.
The Price Match Guarantee program applices to compitor’s regular and sale prices.

Exceptions to the Price Match Guarantee program are:
labour, competitors’s clearance, bankruptcies, volume discounts, mail-in rebates, wholesale prices not available to the general public, live goods, web-based competitors, propane tank refills.

Thank you for bringing this item to our attention. Your assistanace will help Canadian Tire price our products more competitively.

So, the clerk takes my credit card and refunds me my 50$.

“But wait” says I, “What about the 10% extra in Canadian Tire money.”

For those of you from away, CT money is worth par at CT stores. This is going to be almost 45 dollars I can spent right here, right now.

Another pause from the clerk. She looks at me like I’m a complete idiot.

She tells me I do not get the CT money because I used a credit card to pay for my purchase.


I look at the Price Match Guarantee sign again.

Now I’m annoyed, but I’m calm. After all, I am in the right.

I ask her to show me where the policy explains this new wrinkle. “Nowhere” she says, “it’s always been that way.”

At this point, the clerk actually removes the sign from the wall. She’s literally peeling it off the wall. The Guess Who’s “Undone” is running through my mind.

Ok. Time to get serious.

I ask to see a manager.

There are now about 10 people in line behind me.

I’ve now been at the so-called customer service desk for 34 minutes.

Manager “Blair” (not his real name) shows up. “Sorry, can’t do it”. We go through ‘what about the sign’ questions again. I calmly ask him to explain to me why they do not adhere to their publicly posted policy (which is now no longer actually posted…)

Blair explains there is nothing he can do. I’m flabergasted, but I’m calm. There are now 15 people in line behind me. I ask Blair for his name, and a copy of the sign. He actually makes a photocopy of the sign for me right then and there.

Then Blair has a brainstorm. If I pay with cash or debit I can get my CT money. He starts to walk away.

I pull out my secret weapon. The debit card. Hey, I’m no flakey customer. I’ve got money IN THE BANK!

I’m now handed back with the clerk who issues a huge sigh, and says: “This is going to take awhile”. Gee, I’m so surprised.

It’s now 40 minutes and counting.

Much heavy sighing and muttering. Ms. Helpful counts out my CT money in (and I am not kidding) denomination of 1’s (18 of them) and the rest in .25 cent and .50 cent denominations. She’s got a wad of CT money 3 inches high on the counter.

Total time invested: 52 minutes. Total refund: 50 real dollars, 49.20 in Canadian tire.

Since I’ve got this useless CT money, I actually go back to the sports counter, wait another 15 minutes for someone to show up, so that I can buy what I later find out is discontinued map software for the Garmin.

At the checkout, the clerk freaks out at the tiny denominations of CT money, and I explain that I just got them from her co-worker over at customer service.

Incredibly, she won’t take it or count it and insists on getting someone from customer service to confirm the amount, even though it is ACTUALLY PRINTED ON MY RECEIPT. Finally, some haggard looking fellow clerk tells her to take it. I know, it’s like an episode of The Canadian Tire Twilight Zone.

Total time spent, and the last time ever you’ll find me at CT : 1 hour 12 minutes.

But here, fellow bloggers, the story gets much cheerier.

The next day I make the trip to Deakin Equipment, only to discover they have the world’s most amazing customer service, informed courteous staff, a wonderful attitude, and great prices.

It’s like the CT store in North Van is this black hole of negativity, and this place, across Burrard Inlet, is the exact opposite, the ying/yang of retail. No, that’s not it.

I know.

It’s the BIZZARO of Retail.

Deakin was super helpful, found me the accessories I was looking for, and actually spent time talking to me about what I need. As i was paying, I casually meantion that I bought my unit at CT. The counter person asked me “how was your experience at CT, did they know anything about GPS?”

To which I laughed, and said “you’ll have to read the blog…”

garmin, buy it at deakin if you're smart
Want one of these ? Buy it at Deakin Equipment in Vancouver or online.

Oh. One other thing.

I noticed that CT still hasn’t changed its price on the unit. So much for their pledge that ‘your asssitance will help Canadian Tire price our products more comptetively”

Yah, right.

20 thoughts on “CT Weasels”

  1. I am not sure if you will ever read this comment as it comes more than half a year later than when you originally posted this entry but I need to let out some steam (not towards you) so I HOPE you read this…

    I apologize in advance with using the names “anonymous” but I had to as I am a current Canadian Tire employee, but I am quitting very soon. Just for “safety” reasons, because those people are out there and they are crazy.

    Seriously, SPREAD THE WORD telling people not to shop at Canadian Tire. It is a terrible and weird place. Upon starting that job, I was never given any enforced “training” and any product knowledge was to be learned on my own time on the internet. To be frank, the job was “lazy shit” (that is the only words I can think of). And I don’t even work at a Canadian Tire in BC like the one you went to, I work at one in Ontario! It’s crazy I know…

    To conclude, Canadian Tire sucks.

    I will be back to answer any questions.

  2. I have to say after reading both of the responses above I was shocked. Being a current CT employee I happen to think that the one i work at, and the one’s i’ve work at in the past, both in southern Ont and southern BC that they have an excelent training system. Having been employed in the business for 6 years their trainging program has improved. I know now that with everyone that is hired they have to take a test on the department before they even start, and recertify each year. I happen to work at customer service and I know all of the return policies and procedures…even the one’s who have just started with us are real knowledgable on their department. So before I go I would just like to say that even if you might have to wait a little, (there are other customers in the store other then you!!!) we will get to you and try the best we can to help you, and if we don’t know the answer then egt someone else who does, that is what the radios are for.
    thank you

    ps with the first letter i was beginning to wonder if you were putting the “i was calm the entire time” comments to convince us or you????

  3. Hey CT Employee,

    I’m sure there are some wonderful and dedicated employees at CT. Having grown up in Manitoba, CT was a key shopping destination and I found people to be helpful.

    A number of Vancouver area stores are notorious for their crappy service, and even employees complain about having too few people on the floor with little knowledge of policy and even less knowlege about the stuff their selling. Having the radio to call for assistance is good back up but a pretty lousy customer service option.

    The experience I originally wrote about was an excellent example of how NOT to treat customers. It could have been a training film from a Ricky Gervais series.

    Having worked as a consumer watchdog for a media company I learned early that being ‘calm’ and collected is the only way to get anything accomplished. When trying to get a reluctant store to follow up on their promises or ‘do what’s right’ its important to stay focused on the goal; it’s about getting the refund or exchange.

    It’s not about who wins or loses – the point is it’s a merchant-consumer transaction. The merchant makes certain promises and assurances and sometimes, for whatever reason, they slip on those promises. It’s up to the consumer then to do their best to get the satisfaction promised in the original transaction. It’s called SERVICE for a reason.

    Consumers have choices – lots of them. Winning a loyal customer is costly for most retailers and keeping them is valuable. In my case, Deakin won a very loyal customer, and I will continue to go to them for goods. I still check prices and they’ve more than happy to compete with anyone’s lower price.

    But probably more importantly, CT lost a customer for life that day. That’s the importance of service.


  4. From my understanding of the written CT price match policy its supposed to be 10% in CT money of the difference in price. 499-449 equals $50. $50 times  doesn’t equal $49. I am not sure if this story is even believable anymore. So if the item was a $5000 ATV or something and you found a lower price by $5 dollars somewhere CT will give you $500 in CT money. I DON’T think so.


  5. PAT,

    the policy at the store I was at clearly stated 10% of the lower price. I did get the CT money. I didn’t make it up, I quoted the actual policy given to me.

    I doubt CT has any items worth 5k, but if they did, according to the policy that was in place during my ordeal, that is supposed to be what would happen. Given the hassle I had in getting them to live up to their word on a 450$ item, good luck on your 5k.


  6. Not going to get into a big argument over this issue but I am pretty sure that the policy is meant to give a  premium over the price differential. The price of the items is immatereial. Its the price discrepancy that matters to the store.


  7. Robert & Pat,

    I absolutely agree that CT customer service is probably the worst in the industry.

    As for the 10% rebate on the price match. I think Robert still got cheated. The reason he got the CT money was because the transaction was converted from Credit Card to Debit/Cash. CT gives a 10% rebate on all DEBIT/CASH transactions. Therefore he never received the 10% extra.

    I have had many dealings with CT, and it has never been a happy one if there is a problem. I also STRONGLY recommend customers to stay away from CT auto shop. They will find a way to screw up even a simple oil change. bottom line – STAY AWAY from CANADIAN TIRE.

    I was browsing the web, and have found numerous complaints about CT, this is a general issue with the company structure.

  8. First of all I’d like to say that you are right, although training is required at all Canadian tire stores and I am sure that all dealers do the best they can to have good employees CTC has seemed to find some who are not the brightest or hardest workers.

    I thought though you may like to hear the story from another side. I have been manager of a larger Canadian tire for several years now so I figured I’d drop my 2 cents in.

    I have dealt with many problems such as yours and they all seem to happen on the weekend, when its the new ‘student’ staff working. The fact that the sporting goods desk was in shambles and it took so long to get help should be address to the sporting goods manager or duty manager so that disciplinary action can be taken. The time that it took you at the customer service desk though is often unavoidable. Why? Because as you pointed out your depute carried on for well over 1/2 hour, no doubt at your own prodding think of those “15” people in line behind YOU.

    I also noticed some glaring holes in your story:

    “Since I’ve got this useless CT money”
    -If you consider it useless why did you waste your time, the customer service rep’s time and the time of all those customers in line behind you.

    “Ms. Helpful counts out my CT money in (and I am not kidding) denomination of 1’s (18 of them) and the rest in .25 cent and .50 cent denominations. She’s got a wad of CT money 3 inches high on the counter.”
    -Such large refunds are not always expected and on a busy weekend with a lot of CT ‘money’ going out it is not surprising that she did not have many large bills left. You asked for the money knowing that it only comes in smaller (

  9. I once had to wait approx. 1.5 hrs. for someone to open the glass case where the tool was being secured. If it wasn’t getting late (close to 8 pm), I would of ran to another retailer.

    Flagged down a clerk, runs away saying she can’t help as she’s not from that department.

    Flagged down another clerk, says she’ll be back; never to return.

    Go to customer service desk, service clerk said she’ll page someone and I should go back to the glass case; no clerk shows up.

    Ok, waiting I noticed there’s a customer help phone on the wall. Got the customer service desk again; she said that she did page for someone and she’ll repeat the page. Wait wait and never comes.

    Go back to the front of the store, now I’m fuming with anger. I spot a bunch of clerks standing around and chatting; I ask if one of them would like to open a glass case for me in the tool section. They informed me they didn’t have a key.

    Ok, being upset I bypass the long lineup of 10+ people and demanded that the customer service clerk open the glass case herself. She had the nerve to ask me to lineup. Speaking very loudly and upself, as I’ve lost it by now; I demanded to speak to the manager of the store. She picks up the phone and makes a call and saying that I wanted to speak to the store manager; she hands me the phone, I explain how long I’ve waited for someone to open the glass case and how many times I asked for help. The store manager asks me to hand the phone back to the customer service clerk and she starts having a verble argument with the store manager over the phone. Now she asks me to stand aside and she’ll open the case in a second and I said no; she looked like to was going to punch me out at this point. She picks up the phone again and pages for help; no one comes to her aid. At this point another fellow walks up and asks loudly if there’s any service people at the auto desk. This situation was getting ugly. She picks up the phone again and makes a call. Finally this young fellow in a white shirt comes and asks if he can help; he’s the store manager. The guy from the auto desk tries to over take my position and I fought back by speaking more loudly. The manager asks us to please calm down and he asks where’s the others on staff to the customer service clerk and she says they’re around. People around behind me was also getting upset over the whole situation.

    He asks me to show him what I’m after and I walk with him back to the glass storage location. He said that he have to look for a key and I said can you please just bring the hammer. He said that he’ll back back in a min. or two.

    In approx. 2 mins. he comes back with a key that opened the case and I took the tool and went to the tills.

  10. Also be aware that a Canadian Tire Store will not price match to the Canadian Tire web site. It is up to the discretion of each franchise store whether they will honour a web site price. They are only obligated to match prices that are in national flyers (except where noted in the flyers). I am in London, Ontario and this was confirmed by a corporate customer service representative. The store and customer service both will explain that the store price reflects shipping and other factors and that’s why it can be more.

  11. i work at canadian tire, i’ve had a concussion, back problems, and even a punch thrown at me by a customer. The fact is our store operates in the most bizzar manner. First of all, its usually myself who would be the sole employee in charge of covering three departments, and second of all, i deal with managment that expects me to do tons of work my sole self cannot do, and thirdly a large quantity of customers… Now i love customers, i love trying to make peoples problems solved, and what have you.(this sounds like a plee to make us sound like good people, but infact its not, i work with people that are lazy and useless and i admit about 90 percent of the employees at a canadian tire are)
    here’s one of my stories of what i would call a “wonderful” day at work… A elderly gentleman purchased a high end barbecue, which weighs about the same, or if not more then me. So i was sent to go carry it out for him, i didnt mind, i knew he could not handle it… but when i got into the warehouse where it was located, i discovered that i only had one way of getting it out, and that was to attempt to lift it up and hall it through the store, so i did… infact it wasn’t so bad after you forget about the pain in your back, and the thought you were gonna die. anyways, as i struggled through the store i had a customer come up behind me and was like hay boy, you got any fourwheelers. I turned to the man and replied sorry sir, we do not carry those in stock, but i can arrange for a manager to come meet with you, he wasn’t impressed with my response, infact he came right up to me and was like, well look son, why don’t you have any, I replied, i’m not sure, i guess the store owner simply decided not to carry them but we could proably order them in.. After that he slapped my accross the face and i just looked at him and replied, sir, i understand the response is a tad upseting, but i dont see a need in being assaulted. I guess, he then thought this was an opprotune moment for him to see a manager, so he ran off and searched for one. I just shrugged and continued on carrying this barbecue out for the gentleman, I got to the car and the man was like, boy this things quite heavy why isn’t there, anyone helping.. I replied, well unfourtunatly we are slightly short staffed, and the staff i do have working with me has a low work effort.. So basically that’s what the average store staff goes through, but i really dont think employees should lie about products or any policies. when i deal with a customer especialy in expensive purchases i inform them directly what may be some issues when you return this product, i inform the warranty, and what it issues, i also inform them if its going on sale anytime soon… I may get fired for it but really, the hapier the customer is the better, and just to let them know to wait an extra week to save 50 bucks, i dont tink any harm is done, if you treat them nicely they’ll return and that fifty bucks will be made up in no time

  12. Just one point the $25 coupon would not be good in the price match simply because it is an online offer. Plus I dont even see why we have the price match policy its the dumbest thing ever. If u want the product go to the cheaper place end of story…

  13. Unhappy CT customer, it is unfourtunate that you had to go through that but you have to understand(although this may not be the case in your situation) that many places are understaffed and we try our best to help. This next part is just a note to others that some customers are just unruly and sometimes just flat out ignorant(like the ones who try to come in the out door at closing time because the in doors locked and get pissed off at you for telling them we are closed, I WANT TO GO HOME)

  14. I don’t see why they didn’t just give you the CTC money on a gift card instead. That is what the customer service at my store do when they don’t have that many $1’s or $2’s left.

  15. I am looking for a place to vent my anger! I hate Canadian Tire. It has gone down hill big time. The “now isn’t that different” products are flimsy and extremely sub standard. I bought the “first up” which should be called the first down ( in a Good wind). I returned it and was treated well with a manager who was reasonable and gave me back the last sale price. I then happily bought a better sturdier one. I went home and wrote the company an E-mail telling them I was happy with the good customer service. I mentioned I’d just purchased the new “now isn’t that different” lawn mower with the battery pack. I mentioned that I wasn’t impressed with it when I took it out of the box as it wasn’t to sturdily built , however, I only needed it for some trimming around the yard as we have a ride on for the main work. Guess what! I used it three times and it stopped working. Also my husband told me he’d unplugged it as it was in his words ” hotter then a fire cracker” and would probably start our garage on fire! Upon returning it (with the receipt) I was told it had a SEVEN DAY warranty! The manager upheld his story that he couldn’t do a thing for me except to send it out for repair. I’ll get the cursed thing back in a few weeks ( probably when the snow flys)! I called their customer service line and was told exactly the same thing. I was adamant that I knew he (the manager) could have done more as I’d worked for over 20 years in Retail and that the previous manager who dealt with the screen room had listened and been empathetic and handled it right. I told the customer service rep that it was really sad and disgraceful to loose a customer over a paltry $250.00. I should also mention that I never received a follow up response to the “nice” E-mail I’d sent. Neither I or any one who looks like me will ever set foot in a Canadian Tire Store again. I work as a Bank teller and it is part of my job to chat with the clients. So guess what the main topic will be for a while! Anyway, thanks for the forum to get this off my chest…

  16. I’ve always had pretty good luck with Canadian Tire except for the auto service centre but that’s another story. All my returns have been done quickly with no questions asked. Even returned a toaster oven that had been used for two months and the bill was so faint you couldn’t read it. I’ve opened packages and taped them closed again and still gotten a refund. I purchased a set of tires and they went on sale the next week. I went back and got the difference in price refunded to me. Not many people know about their price policy that says if the store sells the item you bought for a lower price within 7 days of your purchase, you can get the difference refunded. Their one year in store warranty is great too. I took back a radio that stopped working after 10 months and they gave me a brand new one. Maybe it is just my location in Toronto that is good.

  17. I just found this post through redflagdeals and I know exactly how you feel. I was so angry after my experience at Canadian Tire I still can’t blog about it. Now I have a new policy. I will not buy anything from them unless I know it means they are losing money on the deal (i.e. loss leaders/price matches).

    I am a big support of Canadian stores but not when they don’t treat their customers very nice.

  18. Cabadian Tire should immediately remove the “Lowest Price guarantee” signs from all stores…..it is a sham.

    CT managers will do anything…even outright lie to you in order to avoid a price match.

    Their Customer Service people at head office are poorly trained. I just got off the phone with one who stated that CT does not PM sale prices. She didn’t have the policy and had to have a Supervisor send her a copy…we got that straightened out fast!

    I have attempted 10 or so legitimate price matches at CT over this past 2 years and was only successful 2 times.

    Price Matching at CT is just a waste of time…never again!

  19. I just had a very similar experience: CT sells a spinning reel (fishing) for 59.99, the exact same reel is sold at LeBaron for 33.45. I take the ad to the customer service counter along with the reel. The clerk scans the reel, looks at the ad, then tells me it’s not the same model and therefore, does not qualify for the price match. Upon getting home, I research the product online and discover that the “model number” CT is using does not exist; the company does not produce an item with the model number CT quoted me. So, instead of losing $30, CT preferred to lose a customer (hundreds, if not thousands of $).

  20. This was interesting, as you mentioned we hear this kind of thing quite a bit.

    GPS devices are a complicated lot and being a small store we can dedicate more time to PK and customer service. In fact, I even teach GPS courses for customers. If you go to M.E.C. with those question they will often refer you to us as well. For the same reason.
    CT is an extreme example, but this often is a symptom of big box stores in general. Not all, but a lot.

    I have my own personal horror stories about Canadian Tire ; Such as them selling something I prepaid (and had on hold to pick up) to another customer. It took them 1.5 hours to figure that out. They then told me I was S.O.L because it was the last one and they no longer make that cabinet.

    Thanks guys.

    Never had anyone slap me. Though, I did have a dog crap on the floor.

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