Office de la protection du consommateur - Circulation of information: Some deficiencies
Published on 2011-04-01
An officer from the Office de la protection du consommateur refused to accept a complaint from a citizen who wished to report the actions of a tradesperson.
The citizen’s complaint concerned:
the Office’s refusal to provide her with a complaint form, so that the situation about which she wished to complain could be remedied;
the lack of proper justification for the refusal.
The Québec Ombudsman’s investigation revealed that:
the Office refuses to process complaints or send complaint forms when the facts of the case relate to a civil dispute;
the Act governing the Office does not prevent it from dealing with this type of complaint; in fact, it states that the Office has a duty to educate and inform consumers regarding the protection of their rights;
the refusal to accept this type of complaint originated from an unwritten internal directive that was not applied in the same way by all the organization’s officers;
there is nothing on the Office’s website or elsewhere to inform consumers of the procedure currently in force for civil disputes;
the officer who refused to accept the complaint should have explained the grounds for the refusal in more detail, and given the citizen additional information on the steps required to take the matter before the court;
an information kit was being prepared to inform consumers of the steps required in the case of a formal notice and recourse to the Small Claims Court;
an internal directive was also being written to inform officers of the procedure applicable to civil disputes.
The Québec Ombudsman asked the Office:
to send an official directive to the employees concerned, on the process applicable to civil disputes;
to make its information kit available to consumers as quickly as possible.
The Office agreed to follow up on the Québec Ombudsman’s request.