At last, new rules for water heater sellers (and others)

April 11 2013 by Ellen Roseman

Here’s a story posted at the Star’s website today by Rob Ferguson in our Queen’s Park bureau. Let’s hope the bill is passed speedily in the Ontario Legislature.

All the MPPs and their staff must be sick of getting complaints about aggressive water heater pushers.

I’m frustrated with the continued exploitation of seniors, the unemployed, students, renters, newcomers to Canada and all the homeowners who post signs at the door saying No Solicitation — and still get pestered.

Ontario is taking aim at aggressive door-to-door water heater sales, saying complaints about bad apples in the industry are second only to collection agencies.

Consumer Services Minister Tracy MacCharles said she will introduce legislation soon to double the “cooling off” period to 20 days for people to cancel contract signed a the door.

The bill, if passed in the minority legislature, would ban door-to-door sales companies from installing water heaters during the 20-day period, require them to make follow-up telephone calls confirming sales and write contracts in plain language.

“This is an area of consumer concern,” MacCharles said at a west-end RONA store, noting some sales people say they’re with a consumer’s existing water heater supplier and there to do an inspection.

One tactic is to tell homeowners their hot water heaters are in dangerous condition.

“It’s a safety issue so sometimes people listen to the aggressive pitch,” MacCharles said.

The 20-day ban on installations is designed to short circuit those high-pressure sales.

If the rules are not followed, new suppliers will be forced to pay any cancellation fees the homeowner faces from the existing supplier.

The non-profit Homeowner Protection Centre applauded the bill, which it has been pressuring the government to implement.

“My advice to consumers is if you’re at all unsure, don’t sign,” said executive director Michael Lio.

“Take your time, talk to your current supplier, compare what you’re paying now and what you’re going to be paying.”

Lio said he “never” signs any deals at the door.

“I don’t have time to read all the brochures…think of all the skill-testing questions.”

5 comments

  1. Ellen Roseman

    Apr 15 2013

    I did a column on this issue, April 12:

    http://www.thestar.com/business/personal_finance/spending_saving/2013/04/12/water_heater_sales_at_the_door_set_for_clampdown_roseman.html

  2. Martha D. Caddell

    Apr 20 2013

    This is a very serious matter and I believe that the said bill should be passed.

  3. STEVEN J. FROMM, ATTORNEY, LL.M. (TAXATION)

    Apr 28 2013

    Sounds like some good legislation. We sure could use this type of thing in Philadelphia. Thanks for the Canadian perspective.

  4. Mike Williams

    May 13 2013

    In my opinion, there needs to be a real crackdown on door-to-door water heater sales.

    The nice weather seems to bring every shady water heater rental company out of the shadows and onto my doorstep.

    I’ve been getting roughly one or two visits per week from these door-to-door sales people. They never represent themselves accurately or clearly as SALES people attempting to secure new customers.

    They generally flash their ID badges and attempt to give the impression that they work for my existing provider.

    They use assumed sale techniques that attempt to frame the visit as routine: “I’m just here to arrange your free upgrade.”

    Or worse, they act as though they work for someone authorized to do mandatory health and safety checks: “I need to check your water heater to see if everything is up to date. It’s my job to check. I have to actually see it before I can check you off the list.”

    Other times, they consult a clipboard pretending to have my information on it: “So… according to this, you’re still renting your tank. Is that correct?”

    When the last salesperson tried this, I demanded to see what was written about my home on his clipboard. He was evasive and left rather quickly.

  1. Snowmaegedon, the Masters, Windows and Friday #ShoutOuts

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