Fall is here, which means it’s time to enjoy beautiful changing colours outside, warm apple cider, having fun at local fairs, and more. However, it also means it’s time to brace yourself for a surge of door-to-door salesmen. With cold weather approaching, you can expect a rise in “door knockers” trying to pressure you into signing rental agreements for furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters, thermostats, and other home heating products.
In 2012, over 3,200 complaints and inquiries were made to the Ontario government concerning door-to-door water heater rentals.
These salespeople use a variety of tactics to pressure you into signing an agreement on the spot. These tactics include presenting themselves as a representative from your current provider, telling you that your unit is due to be replaced, that everyone in your neighborhood is switching over, that your current furnace or water heater is unsafe for being too old, improperly installed, or out of date and inefficient, just to name a few. The things that they tell you may sound very real, and very scary, but keep in mind these salespeople tend to work on commission, which means they will use any tactics necessary to get you to sign the dotted line.
With the long term rental contracts you are pressured to sign, you end up paying more than the unit is worth, without the benefit of owning it. Additionally, there are often very expensive fees for opting out of the agreement early. However, there are things you can do to prevent yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to one of these salespeople:
- Ask for ID to verify who they are, and who they work for.
- Ask how long the agreement lasts for.
- Ask whether there are penalties for opting out of the agreement early.
- Don’t sign anything on the spot. If you are interested, request your own copy of the agreement to peruse at a later time – and make sure you read all of the fine print. If they refuse to let you have a hard copy of the agreement to read at your leisure, close the door.
- Don’t show them any of your bills from your current provider.
- Close the door if they insist they must come inside to inspect any of your current home heating units.
- You can cancel up to 10 days after signing, for any reason.
You can check out the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services for some tips on avoiding getting locked into door-to-door water heater rental agreements. Make sure you know all of your rights, including that you have up to 10 days to change your mind on anything signed at the door. Educate your loved ones on what the rules are if someone they don’t know comes to their home, including that they have the right to refuse entry, and close the door.