Ontarians fed up with two weeks of delays in getting their now-legal cannabis are not just talking about their frustrations online.
They are also filing formal complaints with the provincial watchdog.
Global News has confirmed dozens of complaints have been made to the Ontario ombudsman about how the Ontario Cannabis Store has handled the rollout of cannabis legalization over the past two weeks.
“I can confirm that our office does oversee the Ontario Cannabis Store (as we do the LCBO and almost all other Ontario government bodies), and we are receiving complaints,” said Linda Williamson, director of communications for the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario.
“As is our normal process, our staff are reviewing all complaints and resolving them informally wherever possible. At present, we are in contact with OCS officials and monitoring developments.”
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At this point, no formal investigation has been announced.
If the ombudsman decides to pursue one, Williamson said the process is to first inform the organization in writing and then — usually — announce it publicly.
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The Ontario Cannabis Store is the only legal retailer of recreational cannabis in the province.
Since legalization on Oct. 17, the store says it has been swamped by “unprecedented” demand for the newly legal product.
More than 150,000 orders were made in the first week of legalization.
During that first week, Canada Post also began rotating strikes.
While the Ontario Cannabis Store has said in statements it is delivering thousands of orders each day and has a plan for alternative delivery options, it has so far not said how or when it will implement those in response to the rotating strikes.
It has also been accused by thousands on Twitter and Reddit of failing to keep consumers informed about their orders.
Many consumers are claiming they have not received tracking numbers for orders placed two weeks ago.
Others say online they have been told by customer service officials while asking for more information about their orders that the store is not allowed to turn to other delivery options unless Canada Post implements a full strike rather than a rotating one.
That’s prompting many to detail their efforts to file formal complaints with the ombudsman on social media.
Global News contacted the Ontario Cannabis Store to ask whether the claim they could not use other delivery options was true and also to ask how many new hires the Crown corporation has brought on to deal with the demand.
A statement issued by the Ontario Cannabis Store on Sunday said it had “increased its capacity to speak with callers and reduce wait times for people on hold with the customer service line by implementing additional call and email agents.”
In response to the request for more details, a spokesperson for the Crown corporation responded with the same two lines provided in their public statement.
“Efficiencies and ways to further expand capacity at the OCS distribution facility continue to be made to help meet the massive demand. Our staff continues to work around the clock to fulfil customer orders and respond to customer inquiries and calls,” the store responded via email.
“OCS has increased its capacity to speak with callers and reduce wait times for people while on hold with the customer service line by implementing additional call and email agents.”
When asked again for actual details about how many agents have been hired, the store did not respond.