Mis­la­belling blamed for pot de­lays

On­tario Cannabis Store re­funds de­liv­ery fee to some cus­tomers, but says lit­tle else on mixup

The London Free Press - - REGION -

TORONTO — On­tario’s gov­ern­ment-run on­line cannabis re­tailer, al­ready fac­ing many com­plaints in the weeks since le­gal­iza­tion, has blamed pro­duc­ers li­censed by Health Canada for what it calls a la­belling mixup that de­layed de­liv­ery of some prod­ucts.

In an email to af­fected cus­tomers this week, Patrick Ford, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the On­tario Cannabis Store, said the prov­ince’s only le­gal out­let for recre­ational pot, had put in place mea­sures to pre­vent a re­cur­rence. Ford also promised pack­ages would leave the store’s dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre on the week­end.

“The OCS sin­cerely apol­o­gizes for how long you have had to wait for your or­der,” Ford said in the email. “As a small ges­ture of our ap­pre­ci­a­tion for your pa­tience we are pro­vid­ing you with a re­fund of the $5 ship­ping fee you paid.”

Ac­cord­ing to the email, the promised ship­ping re­fund ap­plies only to peo­ple who or­dered af­fected prod­ucts from the on­line store on Oct. 17 — the day recre­ational pot be­came le­gal in Canada — or Oct. 18, but not to those who or­dered in the en­su­ing days.

Ford would not say how the mis­la­belling oc­curred or which prod­ucts were af­fected. He would also not say how many cus­tomers were im­pacted, what the mis­take was cost­ing the agency, or what mea­sures had been put in place to en­sure the prob­lem did not hap­pen again.

“We have noth­ing fur­ther to add,” said Amanda Win­ton, com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager for the store.

When pressed for de­tails, Win­ton re­peated the in­for­ma­tion Ford had put in the email to cus­tomers.

“Some of the items we re­ceived from Health Canada-au­tho­rized li­censed pro­duc­ers (LPs) were mis­la­belled, and this de­layed our abil­ity to process and ship th­ese items to some of our cus­tomers, in­clud­ing those who or­dered on the first day of le­gal­iza­tion,” Win­ton said.

“The OCS has worked with LPs to ad­dress th­ese is­sues, and has also made changes to in­crease ef­fi­ciency and ex­pand ca­pac­ity in or­der to meet de­mand and to ful­fil or­ders that were af­fected by the la­belling is­sues.”

A spokesper­son for Health Canada, Maryse Durette, said the depart­ment was aware of the la­belling is­sue but was not con­cerned that reg­u­la­tions were breached or that cus­tomer safety was com­pro­mised.

The On­tario Cannabis Store — put in place Oct. 17 by the gov­ern­ment of Premier Doug Ford as the only way for peo­ple in the prov­ince to ob­tain recre­ational mar­i­juana legally un­til bricks and mor­tar stores open in the spring — has prompted an avalanche of cus­tomer com­plaints, the prov­ince’s om­buds­man, Paul Dube, has said.

Dube said last week his of­fice had re­ceived more than 1,000 com­plaints, re­quir­ing a triage team to deal specif­i­cally with the is­sue. Those com­plaints, Dube said, in­volved de­layed de­liv­er­ies, poor com­mu­ni­ca­tion with cus­tomers and billing prob­lems.

Adding to the store’s woes have been ro­tat­ing strikes at Canada Post, the com­pany the cannabis re­tailer is us­ing to get pack­ages to cus­tomers.

On­tario res­i­dents will be able to buy their weed from pri­vate brick-and-mor­tar out­lets start­ing in April, the gov­ern­ment has promised.

The cannabis store had pre­vi­ously warned that de­liv­ery times for or­ders may be longer than ex­pected due to “un­be­liev­ably high de­mand” for pot and the labour ac­tion at Canada Post.

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