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Canada

Unsolicited door-to-door furnace sales rep tells customer false information to enter contract

A B.C. couple is warning about unsolicited door-to-door sales after they were sold a furnace contract that would have cost them far more than the furnace was worth.

Maple Ridge residents Sandy Kallin and Debbie Shepherd say an individual claiming to represent BC Environmental Home Services knocked on their door and asked to inspect their furnace.

“He says he is working with the government,” Kallin said.

Consumer Matters coverage on Globalnews.ca:

Kallin invited the representative in and within minutes Kallin said he was told his furnace was illegal and a fire risk.

The couple was offered a contract to lease and eventually own a new furnace.

“We were to pay $99 a month for five years and we would own the furnace and the payments would stop after five years,” Shepherd said.

Kallin signed the contract, but after a closer look at the paperwork there was nothing to indicate the couple would own the furnace in five years.

“There was no end date. It doesn’t say anything that says in five years you’re going to own the furnace,” said Shepherd.

The contract stated the couple could cancel the agreement within 10 days of signing it. Shepherd phoned the company and said she got the run around.

She eventually put a stop payment on her bank account.

READ MORE: Consumer Matters — BC Hydro customer overcharged for 14 years

Chris Dyke from TEK Climate Control heard about the couple’s experience and wanted to help. He arranged to have the furnace from BC Environmental Home Services removed and replaced with a new one from TEK Climate Control free of charge.

“Any reputable heating or air conditioning company is not going to come knocking on your door,” said Dyke.

Consumer Matters reached out to BC Environmental Home Services for comment.

The company stated, “unfortunately, this customer was indeed told false information in order to sign up for the furnace contract.”

The company also told Consumer Matters that the representative who sold Kallin and Shepherd the contract has since been terminated.

“Due to the nature of direct selling, it is impossible for us to supervise every single customer interaction, however, we do take these cases very seriously,” BC Environmental Home Services added.

However, Consumer Protection BC, which applies consumer protection laws in the province, confirmed that it has received complaints about BC Environmental Home Services and it currently has an open investigation into their business practices.

READ MORE: Vancouver-area contractor nearly swindled by scammer who claimed to own an unsold home

It said it is actively looking into issues around contracts and what kinds of representations are being made to consumers.

Last year, Ontario banned unsolicited door-to-door sales on appliances like furnaces, water heaters and air conditioners.

B.C.’s Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General told Consumer Matters in a statement:  “While changes to door-to-door sales are not something that are currently underway, the Province is researching what other jurisdictions, like Ontario, are doing.”

Fortis BC said it is aware of door-to-door sales happening in Maple Ridge and throughout the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley over the last few months, specifically in the areas of Burnaby, Vancouver, South Surrey and Delta.

“Fortis BC will never go door to door selling any natural gas appliances or asking to see your furnace. The only time Fortis goes door to door is if there is a gas disruption,” said Fortis BC’s Diana Sorace.

Consumer Protection BC says it is important to know your cancellation rights if you do enter into a direct sales contract. Consumers, once they get a copy of the contract, have 10 days to cancel for any reason. For more information on door-to-door sales contracts and tips to protect yourself go to Consumer Protection BC’s website.

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