Think before buying at the door

April 5 2013 by Ellen Roseman

HRAI Door-to-Door - small

As the Ontario government considers a crackdown on door-to-door sellers, check out this infographic. (Click to enlarge.) It shows how much trust is placed in different types of services sold at the door.

If you’re unsure of the current law, the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services has information on dealing with door-to-door sellers. Here’s a guide to your rights.

Here’s a story about a vacuum cleaner salesman who wouldn’t leave the home of an elderly widow until she signed a deal. She complained to the ministry and got $1,000 in restitution — and was allowed to keep the vacuum cleaner.

Water heater rentals and removals are high on the list of door-to-door offenders. Here’s a link to the ministry’s consumer beware list, where you can search by category.

And just for fun, check out the Kijiji ads for door-to-door sellers in Ontario. You find the usual suspects here (lawn care, burglar alarms, heating and cooling).

You can also find several ads for Bell, which is looking to sell home phone, Internet and TV by knocking on doors in multi-unit apartments.

“We are looking for individuals who are hunters (by nature),” say the Bell ads. “Opportunity to earn up to $70K+.”

Bell already pesters current and former customers by telemarketing and direct mail. Now it will be showing up at your door. Is there no privacy?


  1. Robb

    Apr 5 2013

    The worst offenders in Alberta are the companies selling home alarm systems door-to-door.

    Vivint, formerly APX Alarm, deploys hundreds of door-to-door sellers every summer and they are very aggressive. They usually lead with something like, “There’s been quite a few break-in’s in your area lately.”

    I recently had someone from SHAW Cable call and ask if everything was okay with my service. When I told them I didn’t use SHAW, the rep quickly hung up.

    Sure enough, he called back the next day and said he was calling former SHAW customers and asking how to win them back. When I said I’ve never been a SHAW customer and asked how he got my number (unlisted cell phone), he hung up.

    Can’t wait for the next call :)

  2. JD

    Apr 5 2013

    I found what I thought was a city of Toronto notice on my doorknob, referring to a basement flood protection program.

    When I emailed my city councillor, I found it was a trick. Here’s the constituency office’s reply:

    Hi JD, I believe this may be a scam. There is no official City of Toronto logo.

    I have done some research and here is the link to the real City of Toronto Basement Flooding Protection Program:

    Here is the link to the program brochure and application:$FILE/15-0005.pdf

    Hope this helps clarify the program.



    Here’s my response:

    Hi Kristin, you are right. I just called the number and spoke with a fellow who explained the brochures were distributed by a private company, which deals with contractors that would do the work.

    Nothing to do with the city.

    The answering system sounds professional, with five different options for connecting with the business and getting information, but if you try anything other than #1, you get nothing other than an opportunity to leave your name and number.

    The website of the company is

    The fellow I got on the phone laughed when I asked: “Who are you really?”

    The flyer is at least honest about the small number of subsidies the city has budgeted to pay each year (only 300 homes a year).

    But people could still pay to have work done, including the extra cost of this middleman, expecting they would get a subsidy, and then be disappointed when they did not.

  3. bylo selhi

    Apr 6 2013

    This begs the question of why anyone would buy anything from anyone who makes an unsolicited pitch at their door. The same question applies to unsolicited e-mails (spam) as well as phone calls. If I didn’t invite the contact my response is short and simple, “No!”This applies equally to commercial salespeople, charities, pollsters — and politicians.

  4. Ellen Roseman

    Apr 10 2013

    Here’s the Ontario government’s email to media about a news conference tomorrow on water heaters.

    Makes me wonder a few things:

    Why hold a news conference about implementing tougher laws at a store?

    Why give a store official the first slot on the timetable?

    When talking about rental water heaters, why is the government giving an implicit endorsement to a company that sells water heaters?

    How do the competitors (Lowe’s, Home Depot, Canadian Tire) feel about Rona getting the nod from Ms. MacCharles?


    Ontario Strengthening Rights of Consumers

    Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Consumer Services, will be joined by Michael Lio, Executive Director of the Homeowner Protection Centre, to make an important announcement about stronger rights and more protection for Ontario consumers.

    Date: Thursday, April 11, 2013

    Time: 9:00 – 9:45 a.m.

    9:00 a.m. Minister MacCharles arrives

    9:15 a.m. Andrew Carter, RONA Canada remarks
    9:17 a.m. Michael Lio, Homeowner Protection Centre remarks

    9:21 a.m. Minister MacCharles remarks

    9:28 a.m. Media Questions

    Location: RONA, 110 West Toronto Street, Toronto

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