Encountering a problem with a business can be challenging at the best of times. With the added concerns of COVID-19, there are some additional things to think about. Here are our tips for resolving issues with businesses during COVID-19.
Resolving issues with businesses during COVID-19
We know consumer issues can be emotional and stressful (we’ve all been there). Please remember that the person you’re talking to is human too and they likely want to resolve the issue as much as you do.
- TIP: Have you spotted abusive or obnoxious behavior toward an employee at a restaurant or bar? The Province of BC can now issue $200 violation tickets for unsafe COVID-19 behaviour, such as responding with abusive conduct to an employee of a bar or restaurant.
Remember to stay physically distanced, wear a mask when asked to, and respect the rules of the business you are visiting.
Concisely explain the problem.
The first step of any complaint process is to start with the source. Contact the person closest to the problem and explain your issue. Be polite, firm and unthreatening and give the business a fair chance at fixing the problem.
- TIP: It’s important to decide what it is that you’re looking to achieve. What is your desired outcome? Remember to be reasonable and seek a remedy that’s proportionate to the problem you experienced.
Escalate the issue.
If that step is unsuccessful, the next step is to escalate the problem. Ask to speak to a manager or consider following up with a written complaint. Again, clearly state your problem and let the business know what you think a successful resolution would look like. Be reasonable and state a timeframe in which you expect a response.
Do some research to see if your issue is captured under any relevant laws.
Have you explored our website to see what kind of issues we can help you with directly? If your issue isn’t something we can help with directly, read our referral directory to find the topic that best captures your issue.
Check out the Civil Resolution Tribunal.
The CRT can help you try to resolve small claims disputes under $5,000 and strata (condominium) disputes of any amount. We’ve written a blog post that goes over what you can expect from the CRT.
Get legal advice.
If you want a legal opinion, consider trying the Lawyer Referral Service from the Canadian Bar Association. They provide the opportunity for you to have a consultation with a lawyer for up to 30 minutes for a fee of $25 plus taxes.
Did we miss anything? What are your tips for resolving issues with businesses?
Did you like this? You might like these posts too!
How to make the most of your trips to the grocery store.
How to visit restaurants safely and considerately
Going to the movies: here’s what to expect now that theatres are open
COVID-19: returns, refunds, and exchanges
Look through all of our COVID-19 related information on our website.
Where do we fit in?
Yes, we are a provincial regulator. We are responsible for some very specific transactions in BC. We aren’t experts on COVID-19. We won’t – and shouldn’t – ever give medical or legal advice. But we are in a unique circumstance right now and we want to help people navigate the current reality. We don’t have all the answers, but we will do our best to share information from reliable sources, put it in ways that are easy to digest and understand, provide referrals and help you navigate this situation.
About Consumer Protection BC
We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.
14 thoughts on “Resolving issues with businesses during COVID-19”
I have a complaint about a company that is vastly overcharging for disinfecting wipes. Most are out of stock, and the average Lysol pack of 100 costs approximately $6.99. Safetymasks.ca is charging $29.95 for the same product.
Hi Karen, thanks for sharing your experience with us. We’re not taking price gouging complaints anymore but have you brought up the issue with the business directly? The other possibility is to report it to the local authority such as a municipal bylaw office or the police. I hope the information is helpful to you.
Fantacity Karaoke of Robson street in Vancouver is full blown party place with booze and drugs in private rooms staff does not wear masks does not sanitize anything. I got sick after birthday bash last week there. I have been diagnosed with corvid-19 positive. I believe that place is very dangerous to the public I already made a police report. This business needs to be reassessed.
Hi George, I am sorry to hear that you got sick with the virus. Reporting to the police is the right thing to do and I am glad you did. Please rest up and hope you feel better soon!
Hi. I had a quote from a store for a certain amount of design printed, they quoted me by the sheets needed for the amount of designs and had me prepay. Now they ended up using only half the sheets they said they would, when they charged me by sheet, so it should be half price but they refuse to refund me, leaving having paid double of what I should of. Its a UPS store. What are my ressources?
Hi Sandra, thank you for getting in touch with us. Retail services are not something we oversee in British Columbia. Sounds like you have talked to the store but have you taken the issue to the manager or written a complaint to the company? Please read through the blog post (if you haven’t already) as you can take some additional actions such as escalating the issue, researching the law, looking into CRT, and so on. All the resources are linked from the blog post as well. I hope you can resolve the issue quickly!
What are the sanitation rules for restaurants or any business for that matter? Should they be using the same cloth they have been using all day to sanitize each chair and table. All I see is that they are spreading any possible Covid germs around. Wouldn’t it be better that paper towels be used?
Hi Ruth, thank you for contacting us. Consumer Protection BC does not oversee this topic but I quickly did a search on BCCDC website and I found a poster – cleaning and disinfectants for public settings. Here’s the link to that. I didn’t see anything about cleaning surfaces with a towel or paper towel in this document but you may want to contact BCCDC for clarification on this. Here’s their website.
I always wear a mask when shopping or when I can’t safely distance from others . If a store makes a mask mandatory before entering is that legal in Canada ? I hear it is to protect their staff and customers . Can a customer sue and possibly win for any reason ?
Hi Mike, thank you for contacting us. Some stores are making masks mandatory in BC and it’s our understanding that retail stores are allowed to set their own policies. In terms of legality, you may want to ask BCCDC – here’s their website.
I paid almost $1000 for a full year membership at a yoga studio. 2 months after I paid the studio closed due to COVID. They said they would open up in July, but then they decided to wait until September. In July, I asked for my money back (pro-rated), but I did not get a response. The studio then announced they were closing permanently. I then wrote a letter requesting that they get in touch with me to come to a resolution, but they have not. Do I have the right to get my money back for services not available since March?
Hi Ilona, thank you for contacting us. Because you are dealing with a business that has closed permanently, we would like to know more details. It would be helpful to know if the business has claimed bankruptcy or another business has bought it etc. Would you be able to submit a formal complaint to us using our online form here? Thank you!
I have my gym membership for over 3 years. I was very happy with the gym until the pandemic, I do not like the way how the gym manages the pandemic. There is no limit of persons, and when the masks were mandatory some of the clients take off their mask after entering the gym. I complained to the managers and they did not do anything, so after seeing this behavior several times I reported it at the city hall. Now, the gym has canceled my membership because of that. Are they allow to do that? I never wanted to cause any harm to the gym, I only wanted to feel safe there
Hi Gemma, this is an interesting situation. Would you be able to submit a complaint to us on our online form? You can do so on this page here. Thank you!