MEC yanks products from web store after 'pink tax' complaints
Mountain Equipment Co-op, a major retailer headquartered in Vancouver, has pulled items from its online store amid criticism that it charged women more for virtually the same product as the men's version.
A recent Reddit post highlighted what some say is simply discrimination. A user named Shrewy questioned MEC’s pricing of two products called “head thingy’s." The men’s product differs in terms of colour from the women’s product, but otherwise appears virtually the same, wrote the user, while questioning why the women’s version costs $5 more.
The products are both now gone from the MEC website. The company is promising to address the issue and to make a change.
A statement from the company said: “We appreciate our members bringing this price difference to our attention. When a vendor of ours has a Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) policy, we must comply. We have reviewed the products in this case and haven’t found any significant differences in product features. We are connecting with our vendor partner now and expect both items to be back online tomorrow with identical pricing.”
Still, the issue raised concerns about the so-called "pink tax." That’s where women are charged more for the same product marketed to men, despite typically earning less for doing the same job.
Some studies estimate hygiene products may come with a 40 per cent increase, while the state of New York’s review found an overall gap of about seven per cent. Tuesday, the state's assembly passed legislation to prohibit charging one gender more for similar products.
In Victoria, Andrea Walker Collins said she’s experienced the pink tax in terms of deodorant and haircuts, calling the price difference “ridiculous.”
She like others, say there should be similar rules on this side of the border. She says she found two pairs of very similar mittens at MEC this winter, the women’s version was about $30 she says and the men’s $10.
“So I bought the men’s one,” she told CTV news.
In 2017, a Montreal woman tried to launch a class-action lawsuit against eight major retailers challenging the pink tax.
CTV News asked the B.C. government whether it was looking at the issue.
A statement from parliamentary secretary for gender equity, Mitzi Dean, said in part, “it’s encouraging to see this important issue raised in the New York Legislature.”
Dean added, “Self-identified women and girls continue to experience inequality, both socially and economically, and that’s why the B.C. government is putting gender equity at the heart of our policies and programs.”
The statement didn’t say whether the province was considering pushing for similar rules on this side of the border.