This article was just published in the Toronto Star – Roseman: Man, 87, scammed by hot water tank salesman .
For our own customers information and protection I am copying and pasting the exact article from The Toronto Star below, at the bottom of the article is an email address for Ellen, the writer:
Roseman: Man, 87, scammed by hot water tank salesman
By Ellen Roseman 1 hour 10 minutes ago
There’s a new law in Ontario to protect consumers from misleading sales of natural gas or electricity contracts.
The Ontario Energy Board audited 12 companies last month. It found all had failed to comply with the rules in some ways, such as not training agents properly or not mentioning a customer’s cancellation rights in a contract.
Nine companies have agreed to pay fines totalling $212,500, the board said this week. Two companies (Summitt Energy and Energhx Green Energy) have asked for a hearing. One case (MxEnergy) is still outstanding.
Now here’s the bad news. Many companies use the same abusive practices to persuade people to replace their water heaters.
Here’s a story that makes my blood boil, involving a vulnerable senior and a water heater replacement that leaked all over his basement.
A salesman went to the Toronto home of Jose Martins, 87, and said his seven-year-old water heater would be replaced under a government program to get rid of inefficient tanks. The switch took place within minutes.
MorEnergy was a competitor of the company from which he rented his water heater. But Martins, who didn’t speak English well, didn’t know that.
“He said his water heater wasn’t giving him any problems,” says daughter Laura Martins, “but by the end of the persistent and deceptive sales pitch, my dad had given him his gas bill and signed the rental agreement.”
The new tank started leaking a few days after installation. By the time Laura reached MorEnergy (since the office was closed), the carpet was ruined.
“I wanted to cancel the agreement and have the tank removed. The company told me it would cost $300.”
Yes, that’s right. MorEnergy installed the water heater during the 10-day cooling off period provided for sales over $50 made in a customer’s home — and insisted on a $300 fee to cancel during the cooling off period.
The Ontario consumer services ministry has received 1,700 complaints and inquiries about water heaters this year.
The 10-day cooling off period for door to door sales is absolute, says spokesman Stephen Puddister.
A supplier that pushes you to install a tank in a hurry can be seen as trying to deny your right to “cool off” under the consumer protection act.
And if a supplier wants to charge a penalty to remove its rented equipment when change your mind within 10 days, you don’t have to pay it.
MorEnergy president John Nassar doesn’t see things that way.
“I understand the tank was a leaker. Since we don’t manufacture the tanks, we have no control over this,” he said.
As for the $300 removal fee, “the act is clear that if customers invite us in to do the work, then they have to cover the soft costs,” he argued.
Come on, John. Many people don’t “invite” MorEnergy into their homes.
They get a sales pitch from someone who declares their tank is no good — and agree to a replacement under the impression they’re dealing with their existing supplier.
MorEnergy has agreed to pay a $40,000 fine after admitting its agents wore badges that made people think they represented a gas or electricity utility.
Sadly, the misrepresentation leading to rush replacements of water heaters falls outside the Ontario Energy Board’s jurisdiction.
I’d like to see the provincial government crack down on door-to-door sales of all products, including burglar alarms and water purifiers, because of proven abuses.
There’s an election campaign going on now. Is anyone listening?
Just say no to water heater offers (click on the title to read)
Ellen Roseman writes about personal finance and consumer issues. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are the service agents for Reliance within Mount Forest and the Surrounding Area, please do not hestitate to contact us to confirm the individual showing up at your door is NOT with us or Reliance. If you are unsure please call and do not let these individuals into your home! As in the past, any calls of these types of sales going on are immediately reported by us to the Chamber of Commerce who passes them directly on to the Township and OPP.
Also our own sales people will NOT do door to door sales. Our sales people will make appointments with you directly and show up at the specified time. Our company has NO affiliation with door to door sales!