Government of Saskatchewan
Thursday, December 05, 2019
Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority

How to Complain Effectively

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 of Saskatchewan
Administers laws governing business practices, consumer product warranties, internet transactions, auctioneers, cemeteries, 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 toll free 1-877-880-5550.

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 Registry of Information Services Corporation
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.

  1. Did you gather information about the product before purchasing it to make sure that the product would serve your purpose?
  2. Did you fully explain to the store staff what you wanted the product for?
  3. Did you use the product only for the purpose described?
  4. Did you examine the quality of the product before you purchased it?
  5. Did you follow the instructions for the assembly, use and care of the product?
  6. Are you unhappy with the product because it is a different size or colour than what you ordered?
  7. Are you unhappy with the product because there are parts missing?
  8. Are you unhappy with the product because it was delivered to you damaged or broken or it didn't last very long?
  9. Are you unhappy with the product because it does not match the description or sample?
  10. 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

How to Write a Complaint Letter

The following points will help you write an effective letter of complaint.

  • Type your letter. Keep it short and keep a copy for your records.
  • Be sure you complain to the person who has the authority to do something about your complaint.
  • Identify the date and location of the purchase.
  • Give a complete description of the goods or service you purchased.
  • Explain the problem.
  • Outline the action you have taken.
  • Specify the action you expect and a reasonable time period.
  • Provide a daytime phone number.
  • Enclose copies of the relevant documents and keep the originals.

How to File a Complaint with the Consumer Protection Division

The first step is to try to resolve the complaint with the business directly. If this fails, talk with one of the staff at the Consumer Protection Division toll free at 1-877-880-5550 or, in Regina at 306-787-5550. If the staff recommends that you file a formal complaint, you may use the printable form below.

Please ensure that the entire form is completed and that you include with the form all supporting documentation. You may forward your complaint by fax to 306-787-9779 or mail to:

Consumer Protection Division
Suite 500, 1919 Saskatchewan Dr.
Regina, SK S4P 4H2
Email inquiries will be responded to via email. If the sender does not wish a reply in this fashion, please indicate such in your message.

This information is being collected for the purpose of a possible complaint investigation in accordance with the statutes administered by the Consumer Protection Division. While these are exceptions as a general rule, complaints should pertain to transactions involving individual persons as consumers and not business to business transactions.

  • The Consumer Protection and Business Practices Act and regulations (unfair business practices, products and warranties and unsolicited goods and internet transactions, future performance contracts, travel club contracts, remote contracts, vehicle dealers, and prepaid purchase card contracts.)
  • The Auctioneers Act
  • The Cemeteries Act
  • The Charitable Fund-raising Businesses Act
  • The Collection Agents Act
  • The Cost of Credit Disclosure Act
  • The Credit Reporting Act
  • The Direct Sellers Act
  • The Film and Video Classification Act
  • The Sale of Goods Act

When necessary, the information provided may be disclosed to law enforcement agencies or in connection with legal proceedings.

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