Step 5: Need to Take Your Complaint Further?

Step 1

What you should know before you start

Before you start, collect all the facts and any receipts and other documents about your complaint. Consider your rights and responsibilities. Please follow the links below if your complaint is related to any of the subjects listed.

Some complaints may involve specific consumer legislation. Click the link below to view summaries of federal, provincial and territorial consumer protection legislation:


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Step 2

Be Prepared

Good preparation will help you present your complaint in a clear, concise, and factual way. Follow these guidelines:

  • Keep your complaint information in a file and store it safely. Keep it available so you can explain your complaint accurately.

    Your file may include:

    • sales receipts
    • contracts
    • order forms
    • letters to and from the company
    • repair and/or service information
    • cancelled cheques
    • your list of the company respresentatives with whom you spoke, when you spoke to them, and key points discussed
    • other information you consider important to your case

tipTip

Tip: Never give away your original documents. Make copies as needed.


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Step 3

Contact the Business

  1. Practice explaining the problem to yourself a few times before contacting the service provider, business or merchant. Remember: clear, precise and brief explanations will help your case.
  2. Be polite. It can get you better, and possibly quicker, results.
  3. Stay calm and carry on. Don’t resort to anger and threats.

When you call or visit the business, remember to:

  • Ask if they have a customer service section that handles after purchase/service issues. Request a complaint reference number and be sure to ask the company to update your complaint file when you provide new information.
  • Write down the name, position, and, if available, the employee number of staff with whom you are dealing. Keep brief dated notes of key points discussed.

tipTip

Three keys to effective complaint resolution are:

  1. Clearly, concisely and factually explain the problem.
  2. Emphasize your desire to solve the problem and have a positive relationship with the business.
  3. Be ready to propose a solution to the business that will resolve your complaint.

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Step 4

Put it in Writing

If your first attempt doesn’t resolve your complaint, then write a letter or email to the general manager, president or owner.

Use the Roadmap's sample complaint letter.


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Step 5

Need to Take Your Complaint Further?

If your complaint hasn’t been satisfactorily resolved after following Steps 1 to 4, there may be a federal, provincial or territorial regulator who could handle your complaint if it falls within their mandate.

Your next step is to see if there's a national complaint handling body that can help.

Use the drop down menu below to match your complaint with areas where complaints are handled nationally. If no good match appears then select “Complete list” to see all the areas handled nationally and search for a better match there.


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Step 6

Going to Court

Legal action may resolve the complaint and is the last step in the Complaint Roadmap. Small claims court and less frequently, class action lawsuits, are two possible options. If, instead, you decide to sue, act within the time limitations for filing a lawsuit. Consider the costs and benefits and seek legal advice.

NOTE: The Complaint Roadmap is not a substitute for legal advice.

Small Claims Court

  • A relatively simple and less expensive way to resolve disputes than many court proceedings.
  • The maximum monetary dollar limit of claims varies by province or territory. Check the monetary limit in your province or territory and whether the subject of your case can be heard before that court.
  • There may be a fee to file a claim, plus additional costs may be applied for serving orders, payments to witnesses and travel expenses.
  • You do not need a lawyer to go to small claims court.
  • Small claims courts allow each side to explain their story and do not expect consumers to know legal technicalities.

For more information about the small claims court where you live, choose your province or territory from the list below:

Class Action Suits

Individuals who have suffered similar losses or injuries, from time to time, band together to form a class action suit to recover damages and share the legal costs.

  • Class actions are available in most jurisdictions in Canada.
  • A class action is a potentially complex legal procedure that may take several years to conclude.
  • Consider the costs and benefits of a class action, seek legal advice and read about it before you join one.

NOTE: The Complaint Roadmap is not a substitute for legal advice.


Complaint Roadmap Home | Step 1: What You Should Know Before You Start | Step 2: Be Prepared | Step 3: Contact the Business | Step 4: Put it in Writing | Step 5: Need to Take Your Complaint Further? | Step 6: Going to Court