Table of contents

Overview

Service Alberta’s Consumer Investigations Unit (CIU) investigates potential violations of consumer protection and tenancy laws. Consumers may submit a complaint when they feel that a business has breached these laws.

Submit a complaint

Step 1 – Phone the Service Alberta Contact Centre at 1-877-427-4088 to discuss your concern.

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)

Step 2 – Receive a Complaint Identification (provided by the Contact Centre).

Note: In circumstances where email or computer access in unavailable, alternative submission options will be provided. Notify with the Contact Centre representative if this is required.

Step 3 – Using the automated email you receive, log-on to the Consumer Complaint Portal and follow the directions to submit your complaint.

Provide:

  • Full copies of all documents related to the incident.
  • Copies of all written communication to and from the business
  • A detailed statement of your experience including dates, locations, individuals involved, contact information

Note: You can submit an anonymous complaint as a tip via Report a Rip Off. Call the Service Alberta Contact Centre at 1-877-427-4088 to submit your anonymous tip.

Step 4 – CIU will assess your complaint to determine if an offence has occurred and if an investigation is required. Additional information may be needed in order to complete this step.

Several factors are considered when reviewing a complaint, including:

  • whether the issue is within legal jurisdiction
  • evidence to support the complaint
  • if a business has a prior complaint history
  • number of people affected
  • vulnerability of the consumers

Step 5 – You will receive a response from CIU advising of the outcome.  This could include:

  • Investigation by CIU
  • Referral to an appropriate agency
  • Advisory letter sent to business

Investigation and enforcement

If your complaint is advanced to investigation, you will be contacted by an investigator.  You may be required to provide further detail or documentation.

At the conclusion of the investigation the investigator may:

  •  issue a warning to the business or individual
  •  make recommendation for actions such as license suspension, director’s order, or administrative penalty
  • file charges in court

To view previous enforcement action taken by CIU visit the Business Enforcement Search Tool.

You can view Appeal board decisions relating to enforcement taken by CIU.

You may also want to view Consumer Alerts issued by CIU.

What we Investigate

The CIU can investigate complaints related to:

  • auctions
  • cemeteries
  • charitable fundraising
  • collection agencies
  • condominium developments
  • credit reports
  • door-to-door sales
  • employment agencies
  • energy marketing
  • gift cards
  • home inspections
  • landlords and tenants (mobile home sites and residential tenancies)
  • payday loans
  • prepaid contracting
  • time shares and travel clubs
  • unfair trade practices

Tenancy complaints

For tenancy complaints, the CIU can investigate offences and can take enforcement action if a violation is proven.

The CIU does not have the authority to mediate disputes over money owed or deductions to security deposits. If you are trying to get money from a landlord or tenant, and if your claim is below the $50,000 limit, you may be able to file a claim with the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service.

The CIU is not responsible for, nor does it have jurisdiction over:

  • recovering financial losses
  • enforcing court orders
  • mediating between consumers and businesses
  • renegotiating contracts
  • assisting with civil court process
  • Investigations normally conducted by police
  • Motor vehicle complaints
  • Scam texts or calls

Other actions you can take

Before submitting a complaint, it is recommended you try to resolve the problem first.

Go back to the business

Discuss the issue with the business that provided the goods or services. Be specific about your request, and make sure to get clear explanations as to how your request will be handled. It is best to start this process privately, and give business an opportunity to address the problem. Communicate with the business in writing whenever possible.

Contact Better Business Bureau

File a complaint with Better Business Bureau. They accept complaints about any business but if it has Better Business Bureau accreditation, this organization may then mediate to get an action from the business to address your problem.

Relevant associations

If a business is part of a regulated profession such as veterinarians, real estate agents, electrical contractors, and so on, it is a member of a business or industry association. Contact the relevant organization and ask about options to resolve the matter.

Pursue legal action

If you have a monetary claim under $50,000, you can file a civil action in provincial court.

If you need legal assistance consider contacting the Law society of Alberta.

Tipsheets

Find tip sheets that can help both consumers and businesses protect themselves.

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