Frequently asked questions - Complaint examination
Most frequently asked questions
A complaint is the expression of one of the following three elements, which persists after being considered and examined at the operational level charged with making a decision:
- a reproach against the registrant;
- the identification of real or potential harm that a consumer has sustained or may sustain; or
- a request for remedial action.
A complaint must be in writing so that it can be kept on file. If a consumer makes a verbal complaint, the person handling the complaint must document it so that it can be kept on file.
The initial expression of dissatisfaction by a consumer, whether in writing or otherwise, will not be considered a complaint where the issue is settled in the organization’s regular course of business.However, in the event the consumer remains dissatisfied and such dissatisfaction is referred to the person who is responsible for the examination of complaints and designated as such in the organization’s policy, then it will be considered as a complaint.
However, organizations must refrain from any undue delay in referring a complaint to a higher level solely for the purpose of avoiding reporting requirements.
Organizations without a multi-level complaint examination structure are considered to have received a complaint where a consumer remains dissatisfied after a reasonable attempt has been made to settle the issue.
Once your firm is registered with the AMF, we will provide you with the tools and instructions necessary for accessing the CRS. However, if:
After five unsuccessful attempts to enter your user code or password, the system becomes inactive as a security measure. You will then receive error message 003 "You cannot log in: Your user account was deactivated”.
You will have to wait 24 hours before trying again.
You must still transmit a declaration according to which you have not received any complaints by answering “No” to the question “Complaints to declare?”, found in the “Details of a declaration” section. You will find detailed information in the User Guide, which can be accessed through the HELP section of the CRS. See page 44 of this guide.
You must transmit a declaration using the CRS twice a year on the following dates:
| From January 1 to June 30
|| At the latest on July 30
| From July 1 to December 31
|| At the latest on January 30
Please take note that complaints can be entered at all times in the COMPLAINT section of the CRS. You can enter them as soon as you receive them and declare them on the scheduled dates.
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Yes. Over the past few years, the AMF has noticed that numerous firms did not comply with their obligation to declare complaints received from clients. The AMF has sent reminders to these firms through the CRS and the AMF bulletin.
Despite these reminders, the AMF has noted that numerous firms continue to default on their obligation.
As a result, the AMF imposes administrative penalties on firms who fail to declare their complaints. These firms will receive formal notices setting out the allegations made against them and the penalty that the AMF intends to impose.
Therefore, it is important to ensure that your complaint declarations are properly completed and sent to the AMF in accordance with the conditions and deadlines prescribed by the AMF.
For more information, please refer to the AMF Bulletin of March 28, 2008:
To transmit your declaration, you must click on the DECLARE button. If you click on the SAVE button, the data will be saved in the system, but not declared. After clicking on DECLARE, a confirmation of declaration will appear if the transmission was successful. You may print out a copy at this time or access your firm’s declaration history at a later date for a print-out.
You are required to comply with the deadlines established for declaring your complaints. It is also very important that you keep the information in your user profile up to date, as the AMF may use the e-mail addresses for sending out information about the CRS.
You are concerned by this guidance if your firm has only one representative or if you are an independent representative governed by the Act respecting the distribution of financial products and services.
The AMF issued this guideline on May 25, 2007, which states that the AMF no longer requires independent representatives and firms with only one representative to file a report if they have not received any complaints. However, on receipt of a complaint, these entities are still required to report the complaint in accordance with established procedures.
Please read this guidance.
No. If you are a dealer member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), you must report complaints through ComSet. Considering that this system allows dealer members to report client complaints and disciplinary matters to the IIROC, it has been decided, further to an agreement between the IIROC and the AMF, that the IIROC will send complaint declarations to the AMF based on the information declared by members through ComSet.
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Declaring consumer complaints to the AMF is part of the obligations imposed on firms with regard to complaint examinations. Under the regulations, the AMF requires insurers, trust companies, savings companies, financial services cooperatives, securities dealers and advisers, firms, independent partnerships, as well as independent representatives to be subject to obligations regarding the examination of complaints in a fair and equitable manner. They can be summarized as follows:
- Adopt a complaint management policy
- Examine every complaint in a fair manner
- Send an acknowledgement of receipt and a notice to the complainant
- Refer the complaint file to the AMF at the complainant’s request
- Prepare and refer the complaint report to the AMF
All these obligations share a common objective, namely, the enhanced protection of consumers of financial products and services through the monitoring of the commercial practices adopted by firms.
In January 2005, the AMF and the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) embarked on a joint initiative to co-ordinate the requirements for complaint reporting. One objective behind the implementation of this electronic system was to harmonize the collection of complaint-related data and to facilitate the reporting of complaints to regulatory authorities.
The information declared through CRS will enable regulatory authorities, such as the AMF and the FSCO, to assess the conduct of firms. In addition, based on the information collected, the regulatory authorities will be able to focus their resources where they are most needed and develop educational and information tools more effectively.
The information regarding complaints is collected so that regulatory authorities, such as the AMF and the FSCO, are able to carry out their mandate of regulating commercial practices and is not intended for publication. However, as with any information gathered by a regulator, complaint data may be subject to requests for consultation from the public. As necessary, measures will be taken to protect the data.
The choice of person(s) responsible for gathering and declaring data through CRS is up to each firm. In large organizations, complaints are usually directed to various individuals in different departments. In these cases, the firm must communicate the procedure to staff concerned to ensure that it is understood and properly followed.
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If you have the user code and password of the person who was assigned to entering complaint data, you can use them to access the CRS, but you must update the information in the “User profile” as follows:
- Enter the e-mail address of the new person assigned to data entry in this profile. The system will then send a registration confirmation e-mail to this inbox.
- This person will have to click on the link provided in the e-mail received to confirm registration.
- This person will also have to change the password to a confidential word by using the “Change password” function located on the “User profile” page.
If you do not have the user code and password of the person who was assigned to data entry, you must contact one of the AMF’s account administrators at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes. Simply send a request by e-mail to the AMF’s account administrators at email@example.com.
Please note that you still have the obligation of transmitting a declaration for each firm linked to the same user account.
No. Firms must declare complaints received during the declaration period. It is indeed possible that a complaint received during a given period remains pending after the end of the period. For a complaint that is closed in a period subsequent to the period when it was received (and reported), the firm is required to update the complaint with the closed date and the outcome (disposition). The next declaration transmitted will reflect this update.
The firm has the obligation of determining the category that best reflects the issues raised by the consumer’s complaint from the categories in the CRS. Please note that you can also insert a comment in the field reserved for this purpose.
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Repeated complaints about the same incident should only be declared once. Consumer complaints are sometimes multifaceted and fall into more than one complaint category. These complaints must not be listed more than once and must be classified in the category that best matches them.
When a complaint fits into more than one complaint category, common sense must be used to distinguish its main cause and enter it accordingly. Also, when a complaint involves more than one department or product of a company, only one department or product should be chosen.
Every firm has complaint examination processes adapted to the size and needs of the organization. For some firms, the Ombudsman’s role is to oversee the complaint processes and refer complainants to the appropriate corporate level. For other firms, the Ombudsman’s role is to provide the final review of a complaint that remains unresolved after going through a complaint examination process. In these cases, where a firm has multi-escalation complaint processes, it is expected to report complaints that remain unresolved at the operational level. The "operational level" within an organization is the level that routinely makes operational decisions about the issue under dispute.
The initial expression of dissatisfaction by a consumer referred directly to a higher level will not be considered a complaint where the issue is finally settled in the normal course of business.
Every firm has complaint processes adapted to the size and needs of the organization. Generally, an organization with a small number of employees does not have multilevel complaint escalation processes. In this case, the definition of a complaint states that:
“Organizations without a multilevel complaint examination structure are considered to have received a complaint where a consumer remains dissatisfied after a reasonable attempt has been made by the firm to settle the issue.” This statement recognizes that, for certain organizations, the person who first receives the complaint is also the one authorized to review routine decisions taken at the operational level.
In the case of claims adjustments, the claims adjuster is the individual who generally makes routine decisions regarding complaints about the claims adjustment process. In certain organizations, depending on the nature and the cost of the damage, the claims adjuster might need final approval from his supervisor or the claims department manager. In a situation where the complaint cannot be settled at the level of the person giving the final authorization, the complaint must be declared through CRS.
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No. Only complaints from policyholders and other individuals deemed “insured” by the firm must be declared. This is because an individual seeking damages from an insurance company and/or the person insured under the contract (e.g. liability policy) is not a party to the contract and therefore, is not automatically afforded coverage.
The firm must reply “yes” to the question about proceedings only if it is aware that the complainant launched an action against it at the time his declaration was filed through CRS.
Québec and Ontario are reviewing the relevance of gathering information on proceedings initiated against firms. Although the information collected using complaint declarations filed by the firms is incomplete, it reflects the type and nature of complaints likely to lead to proceedings. Such information helps regulatory authorities in determining potential needs regarding proceedings.
Although in certain cases these situations can be considered a complaint by definition, regulatory authorities such as the AMF and the FSCO are aware that it would be difficult for firms to declare these complaints considering that they are not usually handled by the department in charge of examining complaints within the organization. However, it is assumed that most consumers would first attempt to communicate directly with the firm before taking the matter to court.
You can simply indicate “agreement not reached” when you add the complaint in the CRS’s COMPLAINT section as the result when a complaint is not resolved further to the complaint examination process and the complainant received a final letter explaining your firm’s final position or final offer, in addition to your firm advising the complainant of his right to request an independent review or transfer of the file.
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