Buying unsatisfactory services

Region: Ontario Answer # 809

If you purchase a service that is carried out in an unsatisfactory way, you may be entitled to compensation from the person or company that provided the service. Common services include house painting, vehicle repair, and appliance repair. Although you may not have signed a written contract, you are still given certain rights and protection under the law. Purchasing a service always forms a contract, whether formally written or not.

However, it is best to always put the contract in writing to avoid uncertainty and confusion as to what you are agreeing to. You can write out what services you are paying for, how the service is to be performed, and for what price. You should also specify exactly when the repair will be completed.

Compensation under a warranty

First, you should check if the service came with a warranty or guarantee from the seller of the service. If it did, you may be entitled to a refund or some other form of compensation by contacting the person or company who performed the service and explaining your problem.

Compensation under the law

If you discover that the service did not come with a warranty or if you are told by the seller that your problem is not covered by the warranty, you may still be entitled to compensation. Under the law, service providers are required to meet three specific standards.

  1. They must perform the service with a reasonable amount of care.
  2. They are required to perform the service within proper industry standards.
  3. They are required to use materials of reasonably good quality.


Compensation in a breach of contract or negligence claim

If you do not get satisfaction by this stage, your only option may be a civil lawsuit claiming a breach of contract or negligence in performance of the service. You may be able to purse this in Small Claims Court, if the amount of damages is within the small claims limits. You can bring an action in Small Claims Court by yourself or with the help of a lawyer or paralegal, depending on the complexity of the case and the amount you are suing for.

For a breach of contract claim, you will have to prove that what was promised in writing or orally was not performed or delivered. Typically, a court will award you damages or financial compensation for the breach. In rare cases, the court may award “specific performance” and require the contract be fulfilled.

In a negligence claim, you will have to prove there was a failure to exercise reasonable care in the delivery of the service that resulted in injury to a foreseeable user (you) or your property. If there was an unintended defect in the way the service was rendered, a court will still likely hold the service provider responsible.

You may also be able to sue in Small Claims Court when a service provider recklessly or carelessly makes false statements about the service. This is called a negligent misrepresentation. The court will look closely to see if you relied on that statement and that it caused you damage.

More info

For more information on unsatisfactory services, consult with a lawyer, or refer to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, Consumer Protection Ontario.

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4Pillars Consumer Ontario All Topics May 20184Pillars Consumer Ontario All Topics May 2018



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