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.”