The first option is requesting the VSA’s assistance to resolve a dispute you have with a licensed wholesaler.
To begin this process, complete and submit the VSA Wholesaler Complaint form. This fact sheet provides information on how the VSA handles formal complaints about wholesalers.
The second option is to only report non-compliant activity by a licensed wholesaler by completing and submitting the VSA Report a Concern or Issue form.
The authority of the VSA to investigate complaints about wholesalers comes from the Motor Dealer Act and Wholesaler Licensing Regulation. The VSA can investigate complaints about violations of these laws. To find out more see the “The VSA’s Legislative Authority”.
The VSA may act on your complaint about a wholesaler if the following requirements are met:
Your complaint involves a motor vehicle.
To find out more here “Vehicles under the Jurisdiction of the VSA” and
Your transaction was with a person or a company licensed as a wholesaler by the VSA.
By definition, a transaction with a wholesaler is a business transaction and the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act does not apply.
The VSA is not a court. There are limitations to what the VSA can investigate. Examples of what the VSA is not able to investigate are complaints about:
the quality of a vehicle after it has been purchased, including complaints about the failure of mechanical parts after purchase, unless specific representations were made at purchase
customer service standards
Your complaint will be reviewed once a completed VSA Wholesaler Complaint Form and all supporting documents are received at the VSA. If your complaint application is not complete, we will contact you about what is needed.
Once your complaint application is complete, it will be reviewed for jurisdiction. That is, does your complaint meet the two criteria listed above?
For example, if you purchased a vehicle from an unlicensed seller – a curber - the nature of the investigation will change and the VSA may not be able to assist you with the dispute resolution.
In other cases, if your complaint involves a vehicle that is outside the VSA’s jurisdiction, you will be referred to other places that may help you. You can use the fact sheet “Where to Go for Help”.
Next, the VSA must have grounds to investigate your complaint. The VSA may act only within the authority provided by the above legislation. If your complaint does not pass one of the reviews, you will be notified in writing of how the investigation will change or the reason why your complaint will not be investigated.
If your complaint passes the reviews described above, it will be sent to the wholesaler for their response and you will be notified that an investigation has started.
The wholesaler will be given 10 business days to provide the VSA a response to your complaint. If a response to your complaint is received by the VSA, the response will be shared with you.
The scope of the investigation will depend on the complexity of your complaint. The length of the investigation will depend and how responsive you, the wholesaler, any witnesses and outside agencies are when requests are made. The length of the investigation will also vary based on available VSA staff resources. Files can be investigated and closed in as little as 60 days, but most take 120 days or more to investigate, resolve and close.
During the investigation, the VSA will contact you as needed. You can contact the VSA Consumer Services about the status of your complaint at any time. However, it will not speed up the investigation.
Sometimes a formal hearing before the Registrar of Motor Dealers is necessary to resolve a complaint. As a result, it may take a few months to get a date before the Registrar. The Registrar tries to provide a decision within 90 days after a hearing, but it may take up to 180 days.
The VSA will notify you in writing about the outcome of your complaint and will provide reasons for the decision. Your options, if you disagree with the results of the investigation, will also be provided.
Q: Why can’t the VSA investigate my complaint if it does not have jurisdiction?
A: It is illegal for the Registrar to use their powers for purposes outside of their jurisdiction.
Q: Why is the wholesaler allowed so much time to respond?
A: A legal principal called “procedural fairness” requires that a person who is alleged to have done something wrong be allowed time to respond to those allegations. This includes time to gather documents to support a response.
Q: What other agencies may the VSA consult?
A: The VSA may speak with the Ministry of Transportation, ICBC, and the Ministry of Finance. We may also request documents from financial institutions, warranty providers and others. It depends on the nature of the complaint.
Q: Why can’t the VSA help me settle my contract dispute with a wholesaler?
A: The legislation is confined to transactions where the wholesaler failed to provide certain disclosures or sold a vehicle to a consumer in violation of their licence. Contract disputes require other dispute resolution methods, such as the court system.
Q: Can my file be reopened if I was notified that my file was closed as incomplete?
A: Yes. If a complaint application is incomplete, we will send a letter specifying the required missing documents. You have 30 days to send us those documents. If we do not hear from you within 30 days, your file will be closed. However, if you do obtain the documents after the due date, you can contact the VSA and request to reopen your file.
Please note that due to the limitation periods set by law, delays may affect the eligibility of your complaint. It is recommended that you act quickly and, if needed, speak to a lawyer about your rights. For more information, use the fact sheet “Where to Go for Help – Legal Advice”.
Note: This fact sheet provides general information and is not intended to be legal advice.