Consumer services is the first point of contact for anyone who has an issue or complaint about an automotive business in Alberta.
AMVIC has the authority to investigate complaints involving Alberta automotive businesses and registered salespeople.
AMVIC receives about 5,000 calls a year from consumers. Some of these callers are looking for information and advice. Others want AMVIC’s help to resolve a problem.
Complaints can be filed online and will be individually evaluated and processed in terms of the best course of action.
After an online complaint is filed, consumer services first gathers information from the consumer and from the automotive business and if applicable, the salesperson concerned.
How to file a complaint:
You can file a complaint about an Alberta automotive business or salesperson through AMVIC’s online portal. Complaints are filed and accepted via our online portal so that the consumer services team can best serve consumers. Note: you must create a new account if this is your first online complaint.
If you have a concern or question:
All tips and concerns about an automotive business or salesperson in Alberta go through AMVIC’s consumer services team. You can reach the team toll free at 1-877-979-8100 ext. 2002.
A consumer services officer may ask consumers for the following types of information:
- Details about the event giving rise to their complaint.
- The name and location of the automotive business involved.
- Actions the consumer has already taken to resolve the complaint.
- Supporting documentation related to the complaint.
- The resolution the consumer wants.
Should a situation arise where someone feels more comfortable remaining anonymous in submitting a complaint, AMVIC has now partnered with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. AMVIC’s senior manager of investigations is the Crime Stoppers contact for anonymous tips. If the tip is within AMVIC’s jurisdiction to investigate, a file will be generated and an investigation will begin.
Two common areas of complaints revolve around curbers and backyard mechanics, who operate without an AMVIC licence and municipal approvals. Curbers are illegal, unlicensed sellers who often mislead buyers about vehicle history and condition; backyard mechanics operate illegally, often without certified technicians. AMVIC would like to acknowledge our partnership with Crime Stoppers in the collective efforts of reducing crime.
Alternate dispute resolution
AMVIC will often give the business an opportunity to work with their customer in resolving their concern. In some cases, your consumer services officer may attempt to seek alternate dispute resolution on your behalf. Since 2001, AMVIC has facilitated the return of over $38.3 million to Alberta consumers through its alternate dispute resolution (ADR) program.
It is important for you to understand that AMVIC does not have the authority to force a business to reimburse a consumer. As such, if you are seeking reimbursement you may want to consider filing a civil claim against the automotive business through the courts. It is the consumer’s responsibility to cover any costs associated with filing a civil claim.
While there may be a positive outcome, the file may still be assigned to investigations. A resolution for a consumer does not negate that a breach under the Consumer Protection Act or Criminal Code may have occurred and it does not prevent possible charges, penalties, reviews or other methods of gaining compliance such as Undertakings.
If your file is forwarded to investigations
Should your file be forwarded to Investigations and we find that the business has not acted in accordance with applicable legislation, we will take enforcement action against that business. For more information about enforcement action see AMVIC’s progressive enforcement model.
If your file is forwarded to an investigator and charges are laid against the automotive business, the Crown may request restitution for the consumer as part of the court process.
In some cases, you may be able to make a claim against a business’s security or bond through the Compensation Fund. Your consumer services officer can help you determine if your complaint is eligible.
If a complaint relates to a private sale between individuals, AMVIC is not authorized to help. You may want to considering filing a civil claim through the courts.
Examples of how consumer services can help:
Consumer purchased a vehicle from a dealer. Consumer was then informed that the vehicle had liens and the dealer failed to pay them before selling the vehicle. Consumer filed a complaint with AMVIC.
Consumer went into a dealership to look at a vehicle he found online. He agreed to buy the vehicle and left a $500 deposit to hold it. He signed a purchase agreement that clearly outlined the vehicle would be held for him for 48 hours to organize financing. The next day the dealership called and said the vehicle was sold to someone else who was willing to pay more. The consumer requested the deposit back but the dealership refused, stating deposits are non-refundable. Because the dealership broke the purchase agreement by not selling the consumer the vehicle, the consumer submitted a complaint to AMVIC.
Consumer saw a vehicle advertised for $25,000 plus GST. He went to the dealership to buy it. He was told there was an administration fee on top of the advertised price. He bought the vehicle and paid the extra fee even though he was not happy. It was not until later that he found out all-in pricing is the law in Alberta. He filed a complaint with AMVIC.