Another hollow slogan, more broken promises: Tarion

Last week several consumers noticed Tarion Warranty Corporation has changed its slogan on its website and promotional materials from “Protecting Ontario’s New Home Buyers” to “Building Confidence“.

Confidence in whom, about what, for what reason? The slogan doesn’t say.

From years in the advertising business, I learned some things about effective slogans: they indicate the core of what a company does, they are simple, honest, memorable, and resonate with the main target audience. And nothing an ad agency does comes cheap.

Why does a government monopoly like Tarion need a new slogan? It has no competition, and new home buyers are forced to buy the warranty whether they like it or not; it’s mandatory.

Whichever ad agency came up with this new slogan seems to have had little contact with the main stakeholder, the consumer. New home buyers are entitled by law to a “new home free of defects in workmanship and materials.” That’s the law, the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act;  “building confidence” has nothing to do with it.

New home buyers should be entitled to get what they paid for, as in any other area of consumer protection.  Just as they’re entitled to get a properly functioning new car for the money they pay.

Is Tarion is doing its job with the public trust function it’s been given by the Ontario government? Is it protecting consumers, or protecting shoddy builders from accountability, with 8 builders and no consumer advocates on its board? Is Tarion keeping an accurate builder directory of builder defects to warn the public? Is this monopoly regulating builders by having enough deterrents to shoddy building?

Many consumers with experience with the warranty say no to all of the above. Many MPPs, journalists, and lawyers have said without transparency and accountability, no one can verify what Tarion does. Trust is good, verifying is better.

With the disappearance of the promise to “Protect new home buyers“, some consumers have quipped that Tarion has finally admitted they’re not protecting us at all. Others imagine a huddle of lawyers telling Tarion you’d better not say it if you can’t do it … liability concerns!

There was a shocking revelation in the interim review (August 2016, pg. 15) where Tarion admits it doesn’t have enough compliance tools to properly regulate builders. How can they be protecting new home buyers then? Have we been buying new homes from builders who are not properly regulated?

Perhaps that’s the reason for the new empty-headed slogan.

Does it encapsulate Tarion’s core responsibilities? Is it memorable? Does it convey valuable information? Does it resonate with consumers? No. Is it honest? It’s too vague to know.

It’s long overdue for policy-makers to take real action reforming Tarion. Time to stop believing in “consumer protection” agencies of government to self-regulate at arms-length from independent oversight.

Several years ago we noticed the Ministry removed the word “oversight” from its website description of its Tarion responsibilities. Now its “working with” them, not “overseeing” them.  Hugely different, a huge step backwards in transparency and accountability. All to the detriment of the people they’re now asking to have confidence.

The money Tarion spends on sky-high executive pay and hollow advertising slogans could have been used to fix construction defects in new homes caused by Tarion-licensed builders.  Confidence can’t be thrust upon consumers by puffy slogans. It has to be earned.

The new slogan seems to be just about as good as the Tarion warranty.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “Another hollow slogan, more broken promises: Tarion

  1. niclal

    Nothing but nothing Tarion says , does or regulate now can resonate as
    ” confidence building ” . What is needed for the government in power, regardless of which one IS , to re instate that consumer belief and trust is competition in the house warranty arena .

  2. You forget, Tarion follows an “Act”, a government Act…. the government need to UPDATE this ancient rule so that Tarion can cover more things!!! This act is so old it does NOT relate to new homes now!!! Tarion is there to collect fees to enroll new homes and the follow the rules set out in an old act. I think it’s the government that need to get its shit together and UPDATE the act !! People think it Tarion who sets these rules, it’s not. Get your heads out of your bums!!

    • Dear Kerry,
      Thanks for taking the time to give your comments above.
      We all agree with you that the Ontario government needs to up-date or reform “the Act” governing Tarion, the “Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act” (ONHWPA).
      Many consumers like myself have often been at the Legislature for the last 5 to 12 years to try to get the Liberal government, under both under McGuinty and Wynne with her currentl majority, to vote for reforms to the Act. They have refused to do so.
      Many bills have been brought to the Legislature within the past 8 years by Opposition parties to reform Tarion (“The Act”) or put it under independent oversight by the Ombudsman of Ontario and/or the Auditor General. All have been brushed aside by the Liberal majority. The Liberals have also still refused to bring their own bill to reform Tarion, and still continues to stall on reforming the “DAA’ regulatory model which governs Tarion.
      We still await the results of Justice Cunningham’s review of Tarion, (delivered to the government in Dec. 2016), which many of us participated in. Did you give your input?

      Many have observed that the 2 main political parties benefit from generous political donations from the building and construction lobbies, so they are loathe to reign in this powerful industry. If you can contact your Liberal MPP and ask him/her to support legislative reforms to “the Act” please do so.

      There are 8 builders on Tarion’s board, no consumer advocates.

      Also re your comments on the LAT, have you ever attended an LAT hearing? I have attended many hours of hearings in person over the past 5 years. The problem is Tarion and builders are always represented by lawyers, and they win over 90% of the cases. Most consumers cannot afford lawyers; without a lawyer and engineer you cannot prove your case in a court of law. Tarion teams up with builders to defeat LAT appeals.
      I encourage you to go and have a look at how the LAT works.
      Also please read the rest of my blog where you can see more of our efforts to work with law-makers and policy-makers on Tarion reforms.

      If you can help us bring legislative reforms to Tarion or the LAT, you are most welcome to join our efforts. No one in our group is paid to do this advocacy, we do this to help other consumers who’ve bought new homes with construction defects, and are struggling to get them fixed through Tarion and its licensed builders.

      Before you make a judgement on where our “heads” are, please take time to look at our efforts over the past 5 to 12 years, much of which you can read about on this blog.

  3. blueskyred

    My experiences with Tarion from 2102 have been nothing but nightmares, three Tarion inspectors denied my claim, received emails from two different people, 4 hours apart the same day telling me my claim was denied, no clue who these two people were, never been to my house, yet they denied my claim.

    Ian Darling ( Tarion’s Ombudsperson ) also denied my claim, also told me to ask for a decision letter so I could appeal Tarion’s (fair decision), his words.

    I was determined not to let these people take me for a ride, with help from Barbara Captijn, Karen Somerville and other New Home Buyers who had been through Tarion’s ringer already.

    I flat out refused to go through the LAT, it took a lot of my time, at a time when my wife had developed some serous health issues and our son was going through a nasty separation with children involved.

    So, one can imagine the frustration, grief and disappointments we went through.

    Two month after my 7 year warranty had expired, Tarion decided they would like to reassess my matter.

    We were about to list our house due to our son’s separation, there were many sleepless nights not knowing if Tarion would come through or not, as one must report on sales agreement any pending warranty claims.

    The issue was finally resolved however, we as a family have suffered greatly at the hands of Tarion, who is there to protect New Home Buyers.

    Is this why they changed their slogan from Protecting Consumers to Building Confidence? It suites them better, because Tarion was definitely not in the business of protecting Consumers.

    Ontario needs a multi warranty system that is not funded by builders, it looks as if we will be getting a separate Builder Regulator, which is a good start however, we cannot have Tarion continue to be a self serving Monopoly.

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