Ontario ombudsman got over 2,000 complaints about Ontario Cannabis Store since it opened

Ontario’s ombudsman received more complaints about the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) than any other government organization in the past fiscal year — 2,411 complaints to be exact.

Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube released his annual report on Tuesday.

Dube detailed that complaints revolved around delivery delays, a lack of communication with customer service that was “unhelpful and difficult to access,” as well as billing issues, product quality, and privacy breaches.

A number of complaints rushed in during the first week OCS opened in October. After three weeks, the number of complaints ballooned to 2,100 and rose to 2,411 by March 31, the end of the fiscal year. 

The OCS complaints amounted to three times more than the second organization most complained about, the Family Responsibilities Office.

Since October, when the OCS opened, Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube said in a news conference that complaints such as duplicate charges and delayed refunds have “eased considerably.”

He said the initial concerns that rushed in after opening were like “a couple of kids with a lemonade stand on a wharf and a cruise ship pulling up.”

“The Ontario Cannabis Store’s online operation faced an overwhelming demand in its first days and weeks of operation,” the report stated.

The complaints grew to such a level that a team of ombudsman staff was assigned to work with the OCS to flag issues and resolve them.

The report detailed a few stories of customer trouble with OCS, such as a customer receiving an empty box for their order.

The OCS asked the customer to return the empty box to receive a refund, but its “absurdity” caused the customer to complain. The OCS ended up expediting the return without the return of the empty box.

Another story involved a cannabis package delivered onto a customer’s front porch, which broke the requirement that someone over 19 years old has to sign for cannabis so it doesn’t end up with minors.

The ombudsman also detailed a “serious privacy breach” that allowed anyone to see an OCS customer’s name and address if they had a tracking number with Canada Post’s online system.

The ombudsman said the issue was quickly addressed.

Overall it was a big year of complaints for the ombudsman. The total number of complaints rose 30 percent over the fiscal year, according to the office. The office handled 27,419 complaints total for the fiscal year.

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