Consumer Complaint Roadmap

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1 Cnsumer Cmplaint Radmap Step 1. What yu shuld knw befre yu begin. Refund and Exchange Plicies The nly case where a cnsumer has the abslute right t a return is when there is a defect in the prduct. Mst merchants have refund and exchange plicies. Always ask abut the refund r exchange plicy befre yu buy. Many businesses, service prviders and retailers nly accept returns and exchanges fr a specific perid after a purchase, s it is imprtant t return a defective r unsatisfactry prduct befre the deadline. Persnal items, such as earrings, bathing suits, underwear, and mattresses may be final sales (they cannt be returned r exchanged) r have extremely limited exchange and return plicies. Cpyright prtected items, such as cmputer sftware, may be exempted frm refund and exchange plicies if packages are pened. Item Ges n Sale After a Purchase Unless it is stre plicy, merchants are under n bligatin t refund custmers the price difference if an item ges n sale after a purchase. Sme merchants may have a price guarantee plicy that utlines hw a custmer can get the sale price if an item ges n sale after a purchase. Sme retailers will give "rainchecks" t custmers which allw them t return at a later date and get a sale price f a prduct that is ut f stck. Be Aware f Cntract Terms Befre Cmplaining Yur rights and respnsibilities may depend n several federal and prvincial laws and may be laid ut in yur agreements r cntracts with the business, service prvider r retailer. Always review a cntract r agreement carefully t ensure that yu understand its terms and cnditins befre signing it. Check the cntract befre cntacting a business r service prvider and ldging a cmplaint. Cntract Cancellatins A cntract can take many frms, such as an ral r written agreement. All are equally valid. Getting ut f a cntract is a very difficult thing, but it can be dne in limited circumstances, if: bth parties culd agree t end the cntract the cntract lists the ways in which it can be cancelled

2 it is cvered by an autmatic cling ff perid. In sme prvinces, "cling ff perids" exist fr sme credit cntracts fr dating clubs, health clubs, and dr-t-dr sales, which allw yu t cancel the agreement within a set perid f time after the cntract has been signed. Cancelling a cntract withut mutual agreement, r withut cause, may end up being mre expensive than fulfilling the riginal cntract. Defective Prducts Obviusly, cnsumer gds cannt last a lifetime, but they shuld wrk as prmised under nrmal use when purchased. Mst cnsumer gds carry a time limited guarantee. If the prduct is defective yu can ask: 1. that the prduct be repaired; 2. if it cannt be repaired, that it be replaced; r, 3. if the prduct cannt be repaired r replaced, that a refund be prvided. Private Sales A private seller may ffer a given prduct at a lwer price and may be able t prvide first-hand knwledge f its histry. It may be difficult t get cmpensatin frm a private seller if prblems arise, since private sale cntracts are nt subject t cnsumer legislatin. Liens A lien is a legal claim r a "hld" n sme type f prperty, usually due t it being used t secure a lan r services. Always check fr liens against a prduct, especially when buying higher value items such as a car r bat frm a private individual. Generally, wnership f a prperty with a lien cannt be transferred until the debt is paid. Step 2. Be Prepared! Gd preparatin will help yu present yur cmplaint in a clear, cncise, and factual way. Fllw these guidelines: Keep yur cmplaint infrmatin in a file and stre it safely. Keep it available s yu can explain yur cmplaint accurately. Yur file may include: sales receipts cntracts rder frms letters t and frm the cmpany repair and/r service infrmatin cancelled cheques yur list f the cmpany representatives with whm yu spke, when yu spke t them, and key pints discussed ther infrmatin yu cnsider imprtant t yur case

3 Step 3. Cntact the Business. CONSUMER AFFAIRS 1. Practice explaining the prblem t yurself a few times befre cntacting the service prvider, business r merchant. Remember: clear, precise and brief explanatins will help yur case. 2. Be plite. It can get yu better, and pssibly quicker, results. 3. Stay calm and carry n. Dn t resrt t anger and threats. When yu call r visit the business, remember t: Ask if they have a custmer service sectin that handles after purchase/service issues. Request a cmplaint reference number and be sure t ask the cmpany t update yur cmplaint file when yu prvide new infrmatin. Write dwn the name, psitin, and, if available, the emplyee number f staff with whm yu are dealing. Keep brief dated ntes f key pints discussed. Three tips t effective cmplaint reslutin are: 1. Clearly, cncisely and factually explain the prblem. Fr example: the prduct received was nt the ne yu rdered: it is the wrng size, the wrng clur, r a different mdel than the ne yu bught the prduct yu received was damaged in transprt r during delivery the prduct des nt perfrm as advertised 2. Emphasize yur desire t slve the prblem and have a psitive relatinship with the business. Fr example: Yu have been a repeat custmer f the business and yu have been satisfied with the service until nw. Yu wuld like t slve this issue s that relatinship can cntinue. Yu are a new custmer f the business and yu dn't feel this is a gd way t start a relatinship that culd be a lng-term, psitive ne fr yu and the business. 3. Be ready t prpse a slutin t the business that will reslve yur cmplaint. Mst reputable businesses will listen t a custmer wh has had a prblem and wh prpses a reasnable slutin t reslve it.

4 Step 4. Put it in writing. CONSUMER AFFAIRS If yur first attempt desn t reslve yur cmplaint, then write a letter r t the general manager, president r wner. <Sample Cmplaint Letter> (Yur Address) (Yur City, Prvince r Territry, Pstal Cde) (Yur Address, if yu have an address where yu can be cntacted) (Date) (Name f cntact persn, if available) (Title, if available) (Cnsumer Cmplaint Divisin, when yu have n cntact persn) (Cmpany name) (Street address) (City, prvince r territry, pstal cde) Dear (Cntact Persn): Re: (accunt number, if applicable): On (date), I (bught, leased, rented r had repaired) a (name f the prduct with serial r mdel number r service perfrmed) at (lcatin). Unfrtunately, yur prduct has nt perfrmed well (r the service was inadequate). I am disappinted because (explain the prblem: fr example, the prduct des nt wrk prperly, the service was nt perfrmed crrectly, I was billed the wrng amunt, smething was nt disclsed clearly r was misrepresented at the time f sale). T reslve the prblem, I wuld appreciate (state the specific actin yu wuld like: mney back, stre credit, repair r exchange, fr example). Enclsed are cpies (d nt send riginals) f my recrds (include receipts, guarantees, warranties, cancelled cheques, cntracts, and any ther dcuments assciated with the purchase). I lk frward t yur reply and t yur reslving my prblem, and will wait until (set a time limit: usually 10 wrking days is sufficient) befre seeking help frm a cnsumer prtectin agency r filing a cmplaint with the Better Business Bureau. Please cntact me at the abve address r by telephne at (hme and/r ffice number with area cdes) Sincerely, (yur name) Enclsure(s) cc: (indicate wh will receive a cpy f this letter, e.g., prduct manufacturer)

5 Step 5. Need t take yur cmplaint further? If yur cmplaint hasn t been satisfactrily reslved after fllwing Steps 1 t 4, there may be a federal, prvincial r territrial regulatr wh culd handle yur cmplaint if it falls within their mandate. Yur next step is t see if there's a natinal cmplaint handling bdy that can help. A range f ther regulatry bdies may be able t prvide further assistance in reslving yur dispute. Please cntact the Cnsumer Services branch directly and we will attempt t assist yu in determining the apprpriate cntact. Cnsumer Affairs cntact details: T cntact Cnsumer Affairs in the NWT call r Step 6. Ging t Curt Legal actin may reslve the cmplaint and is the last step in the Cmplaint Radmap. Small claims curt and less frequently, class actin lawsuits, are tw pssible ptins. If, instead, yu decide t sue, act within the time limitatins fr filing a lawsuit. Cnsider the csts and benefits and seek legal advice. NOTE: The Cmplaint Radmap is nt a substitute fr legal advice. Small Claims Curt A relatively simple and less expensive way t reslve disputes than many curt prceedings. The maximum mnetary dllar limit f claims varies by prvince r territry. Check the mnetary limit in yur prvince r territry and whether the subject f yur case can be heard befre that curt. There may be a fee t file a claim, plus additinal csts may be applied fr serving rders, payments t witnesses and travel expenses. Yu d nt need a lawyer t g t small claims curt. Small claims curts allw each side t explain their stry and d nt expect cnsumers t knw legal technicalities. In the Nrthwest Territries, yu can cntact the Curt system via: Yellwknife th St. Bx 550 Yellwknife, NT X1A 2N4 (867) / r tll free: Fax: Hay River #201-8 Capital Drive Hay River, NT X0E 1G2 (867) tll free: Fax: Inuvik 151 Mackenzie Rad Bx 1965 Inuvik, NT X0E 0T0 (867) tll free: Fax: Mnday-Friday 9:30 am - 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

6 Class Actin Suits Individuals wh have suffered similar lsses r injuries, frm time t time, band tgether t frm a class actin suit t recver damages and share the legal csts. Class actins are available in mst jurisdictins in Canada. A class actin is a ptentially cmplex legal prcedure that may take several years t cnclude. Cnsider the csts and benefits f a class actin, seek legal advice and read abut it befre yu jin ne.

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