Information for consumers

What to expect when you file a consumer complaint

Service Alberta’s Consumer Investigations Unit (CIU) accepts and reviews consumer complaints, and investigates potential violations of consumer protection and tenancy laws.

Every complaint is unique. When the CIU receives your complaint, you can expect a thorough assessment of the issue to determine if a violation of any consumer protection or tenancy laws has occurred. If so, an investigation may be warranted. Further factors considered before opening an investigation may include the seriousness of an alleged offense and whether it is in the public interest to investigate.

If the matter is not a violation of consumer protection laws, the CIU will advise you of the best course of action to address the issue.

The role of a CIU Investigator:

When a complaint is opened for investigation, it is assigned to an investigator. The Investigator:

  • reviews the issue to determine the scope of a potential offence
  • establishes an investigation plan
  • establishes appropriate channels of communication with all parties related to the complaint and maintains open communication throughout the investigation process
  • gathers evidence
    • the Investigator will likely ask you numerous questions to understand the issue and ask you to present any relevant documents for the purposes of the investigation – this may include receipts, contracts, correspondences, etc.
    • the Investigator will also speak with the business to provide an opportunity for the business to respond to your allegations
  • recommends an enforcement action as necessary based on the facts of the case. In some cases, an Investigator may recommend that charges be laid in provincial courts if there is enough evidence to support this course of action. While the Investigator may recommend a specific enforcement action, the final decision regarding any administrative sanctions or the prosecution of the case rests with the Director of Fair Trading or the Crown.

The CIU Investigators are not responsible for:

  • recovering financial losses
  • enforcing court orders
  • mediating between consumers and businesses
  • renegotiating contracts
  • assisting with civil court process
  • investigations normally conducted by police.