Have a service complaint? Here's how to proceed

Dealers are committed to resolving issues quickly and maintaining good relationships with their customers.

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In a perfect world, all customers would be completely satisfied with the products and services they purchase and conflict resolution would be unnecessary.

Alas, the world isn’t perfect, and legitimate mistakes or problems occur in all industries.

Although new car dealers aim to deliver positive buying experiences for their customers every day, occasionally, they fail to meet customer expectations.

If you have a legitimate quality complaint about the vehicle you purchased or about the service/repairs performed on your vehicle, there are several ways to proceed.

First, think clearly about the issue and gather your thoughts. For service-related issues, contact your service adviser and, if that doesn’t lead to a resolution, then speak to the service manager. Remember to stay calm throughout and treat the service staff with respect. It will go a long way in making the situation more pleasant for all concerned.

ALSO READ: Read auto sales and leasing contracts carefully

Dealers are committed to resolving issues quickly and maintaining good relationships with their customers. They also appreciate feedback from customers; sometimes a complaint will help a dealer to identify an internal problem that needs to be addressed.

If the service manager can’t resolve the problem, then contact the general manager, and then if need be, the owner. Sometimes, a department manager can be too close to a situation, and the general manager and/or owner can offer a fresh perspective (and a resolution) to a problem, but go through the process without skipping over people, because many times, the problem will be resolved quicker this way.

If a customer has a legitimate complaint about a vehicle defect or a warranty issue, there are several options available to try and resolve the matter.

They can contact the dealership where the vehicle was purchased, and management will attempt to resolve the matter quickly and fairly.

ALSO READ: How Not To Get Ripped Off by your Auto Mechanic

Failing that, a customer can contact the automobile manufacturer directly (all manufacturers have customer relations departments) to try and resolve the issue.

If the above-mentioned steps do not resolve your vehicle quality (or manufacturer warranty) issues, you could present your case to the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP).

CAMVAP was established in 1994 to resolve disputes with auto manufacturers and distributors that involve warranty or alleged manufacturing defects. Financial compensation, including a refund of your purchase price, is available to consumers.

Vehicles eligible for CAMVAP arbitration include current model year and any vehicles within the four previous model years. CAMVAP covers just over 94 per cent of the eligible vehicles sold in the Canadian marketplace — non-participating manufacturers are BMW (which includes Mini), Mitsubishi, Tesla, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, and Lamborghini.

All new vehicle sales and lease agreements from participating manufacturers in Ontario must state that CAMVAP is “available to resolve disputes concerning alleged manufacturer defects or implementation of the manufacturer’s new motor vehicle warranty.”

Consumers can seek resolution for a vehicle defect, or challenge some aspect of their vehicle’s warranty coverage, by filing an application with CAMVAP, by visiting CAMVAP’s website ( or by calling 1-800-207-0685.

Once CAMVAP is contacted, the consumer and manufacturer can present their respective cases before an arbitrator. Claimants have the right to hire their own lawyer (entirely optional), call witnesses and collect evidence the same way that they would prepare for a regular court case.

CAMVAP’s primary role is to facilitate a fair and independent adjudication on all cases brought before it, and CAMVAP represents a court of last resort. By pursuing this route, they waive their right to proceed with legal action either against the dealership or the manufacturer at a later date.

Whatever your complaint toward a dealership or a manufacturer, allow the appropriate conflict resolution process to do its job.

Have a service complaint? Here's how to proceed

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