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Saturday, October 03, 2015
Saskatchewan Justice

When I encounter unsatisfactory services or products, I just chalk it up as a learning experience. Why should I complain?

Legitimate complaints help everybody in the marketplace. Complaints help prevent unnecessary regulation and inferior goods in the marketplace. They also alert businesses to product quality, service and distribution problems.

How long after the incident should I issue my complaint?

The sooner, the better! There are legal time limits, depending on the situation, so act quickly.

Who should I direct my complaint to?

Always go to the seller first. All good businesses recognize a valid complaint as an opportunity rather than a bother. Be sure you are dealing with someone who has the authority to rectify the problem.

How can I complain effectively?

It is important to clearly identify the problem. You need to explain why you are dissatisfied and what you would like done to correct the problem.

Make sure you have proof of payment or proof of dealings with the business. Make copies of receipts, canceled cheques, guarantees and any other correspondence between yourself and the business. Never give away the original copy.

The best approach is to be polite but firm. Do not lose your temper or your sense of humor. Be persistent. Do not give up until you feel you have received a satisfactory response.

It is important that you be reasonable and fair. You should determine the business's refund policy before making any purchases and ensure that you have properly complied with the terms and warranties. You have no legal right for a refund unless the goods are defective.

What should I do if the seller refuses to recognize my complaint?

When dealing with the seller fails, you may want to take your complaint to the next level. If you are complaining about product quality, the next step is to complain to the manufacturer. If the business belongs to a professional organization or association, the association may be willing to assist you with your problem. Otherwise, you may have to consider utilizing legal action to resolve your concerns or contact one of the following organizations for assistance.

Consumer Protection Division of the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority
Administers laws governing business practices, consumer product warranties, internet transactions, auctioneers, cemetaries, charitable fund-raising businesses, collection agents, credit reporting agencies, direct sellers, motor dealers, sellers of training courses, video outlets and flim classifications.
Phone: (306) 787-5550 or 1-877-880-5550 (toll free)

Better Business Bureau of Saskatchewan Inc.
The Better Business Bureau collects and reports information to help prospective buyers make informed decisions in dealing with both businesses and charitable organizations. The Better Business Bureau facilitates communication between the company and the consumer to help both sides come to a satisfactory resolution of the complaint.
Phone: (306) 352-7601 or 1-888-352-7601

Corporations Branch of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice and Attorney General
The corporate registry is the official record of the company or business which is required for any legal action.
Phone: (306)787-2962

Industry Canada
Industry Canada handles complaints about misleading advertising, deceptive marketing practices, patents and copyrights, labeling, weights and measures and bankruptcy information.
Phone: Ottawa 1-800-348-5358

Complaint Checklist

Before you complain, ask yourself the following questions. They will help you decide if your complaint is valid.

  • Did you gather information about the product before purchasing it to make sure that the product would serve your purpose?
  • Did you fully explain to the store staff what you wanted the product for?
  • Did you use the product only for the purpose described?
  • Did you examine the quality of the product before you purchased it?
  • Did you follow the instructions for the assembly, use and care of the product?
  • Are you unhappy with the product because it is a different size or colour than what you ordered?
  • Are you unhappy with the product because there are parts missing?
  • Are you unhappy with the product because it was delivered to you damaged or broken or it didn't last very long?
  • Are you unhappy with the product because it does not match the description or sample?
  • Are you unhappy with the product because you changed your mind about the colour, size or model you wanted?


You have a valid complaint if you answered:

  • "Yes" to questions 1-5
  • "Yes" to one of questions 6-9
  • "No" to question 10
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