The first step to solving a problem with a merchant should always be to try to negotiate directly with them. The Office de la protection du consommateur suggests the following 6 steps to facilitate the process.

1. Specify the problem

  • Define the problem you are experiencing with the product or service. Note what is defective with the product or why the service does not meet your expectations.
  • Gather all relevant documents related to your problem (invoice, contract, letter, and so on).
  • Reread the product’s contract, warranty, advertising, operating instructions, and so on, to make sure you have acted appropriately.

In some cases, an expert could help you define the problem more clearly. Their opinion could also serve as an argument or proof in subsequent steps.

2. Document the problem

  • Order all the documents you have gathered according to date and keep them in a file;
  • In that same file, add a note that describes everything that happened with the product or service since the purchase.

Documenting the problem will help you build a coherent and complete case and provide you with a clear overview of the situation.

3. Determine a potential solution

Think of a solution that is realistic, satisfying and fair to both parties. This could be a repair, an exchange, a complete or partial refund, a request to have the work redone, etc.

Refer to the Potential Solutions page to get a better idea of what can be claimed from the merchant. The notions of compensatory damages and punitive damages are also explained.

4. Choose with whom to negotiate

  • Try to determine who can solve your problem (store manager, customer service manager, owner, etc.);
  • Set up a meeting to negotiate in person and insist on meeting the right person;
  • Note the names and titles of the people you are meeting with along with the date and time of each meeting;
  • Plan to bring someone to witness the negotiation.

5. Negotiate an agreement

  • Clearly and concisely describe your problem and what you think the best solution is;
  • Always bring the discussion back to the topic of your problem and potential solutions;
  • Let the merchant submit its proposals. Listen to those proposals with an open mind and evaluate them individually;
  • If such is the case, you can inform the merchant that you have consulted with the Office de la protection du consommateur, a consumer association, or a lawyer, but do not say anything more. Never put words in the mouths of these resources they did not actually say. Doing so could hurt your case;
  • If the negotiation breaks down, consider the possibility of making concessions or take some time to think;
  • Write down a summary of the discussion you had and the results you were able to achieve. You might need this information later if you cannot reach a final agreement.

6. Send a formal notice

If negotiation fails, you can send a formal notice.

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Last update : October 11, 2023

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The information contained on this page is presented in simple terms to make it easier to understand. It does not replace the texts of the laws and regulations.