Archived — Be Informed About... Making a Complaint

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It's Your Right to Complain

Complain and be heard!

It can happen to anyone. We spend money on a product or service only to find out we haven't got what we paid for. When this happens, the only thing to do is complain. Knowing how to complain will improve your chances of getting satisfaction.

If you've just bought something that you're not happy with, contact the business right away. You may only need to make a simple request to get the company to fix the problem. Use these tips to help improve your chances of getting the results you want:

  • Don't be afraid to complain. Good businesses will be pleased to fix any mistake they've made or replace a faulty product. They know that happy customers are good for business.
  • Act quickly. If you are unhappy with the item you bought, return it as quickly as possible. Do not lose the chance to get your money back.
  • Talk to the right people, in the right order. Give each person time to deal with your complaint. Start with the sales clerk and then move on to the customer service office or the manager. If this still does not work, contact the head office.
  • Be reasonable. If the store won't give you your money back, maybe you can exchange the item.
  • Be polite. You will get better results if you explain the problem and ask for help politely. Never get angry or make threats.
  • Be clear. Know your facts so that it's clear what you are asking.
  • Keep good records. Keep a file of important information. Include sales receipts, repair orders, warranties, contracts and any letters you have written.

If your first contact with the business did not get you any results, try the Complaint Roadmap. The Complaint Roadmap is an online tool that gives you the resources you need to complain and be heard. It takes you through the complaint process from start to finish.

Here's how it works:

Step 1: What you should know before you start

This step helps you understand your rights and responsibilities and gives handy resources to help make your complaints more focussed and effective.

Step 2: Be Prepared

The next step helps you build and update a complaint file that will help you back up your complaint with facts.

Step 3: Contact the Business

The third step is to contact the business. You provincial or territorial consumer affairs office will not help resolve a complaint if you have not first spoken to the business.

Step 4: Put it in Writing

If you have spoken to the business and are unsatisfied with the outcome, the next step is to write a letter to someone higher up in the business. You can use the Complaint Roadmap's complaint letter template to help you write an effective letter.

Step 5: Need to Take Your Complaint Further?

If you and the business cannot agree on a reasonable solution, use the Complaint Roadmap to find the right regulator, government body, or consumer affairs office that can help you with your complaint.

Step 6: Going to Court

If you are still unable to fix the problem using the Complaint Roadmap, you may want to consider your legal options. Step 6 has information on legal options, but the Complaint Roadmap does not give legal advice.


In a perfect world you'd never have to use Complaint Roadmap, but if you have a consumer complaint that you can't resolve, you can start here.