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GSU, police receiving complaints of door-to-door solicitors

By: Sudbury Northern Life Staff

 | Dec 02, 2013 - 3:24 PM |

A company owned by Greater Sudbury Utilities is warning residents that it does not go door-to-door to solicit for business.

Greater Sudbury Utilities said several people have reported pushy salespeople going door-to-door selling water heater contracts in the City of Greater Sudbury.

Those sales people say they represent @Home Energy, the company owned by Greater Sudbury Utilities, and reminds residents to take their time and be informed before they sign anything — especially when pressured at the door.

Greater Sudbury Police Service said it has received a number of complaints regarding door-to-door salespeople, most recently in the Hanmer area. The door- to-door solicitors are identifying themselves as surveyors testing furnace efficiency.

“They are using high pressure tactics during their canvass,” said GSPS in a news release.
High-pressure tactics include:
-Advising that they work for the City and that you are required to let them into your homes.
-They will continue to come back until you let them in.
-That you will be reported if you do not let them in.
-That there are new building codes and the furnace has to be changed.

None of this is true, said police.

"You are well within your rights to refuse them entry and to tell them to leave your property immediately. If they fail to leave they can be charged with trespassing."

The Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services website indicates complaints about water-heater rental businesses have gone up significantly. For the past two years, they have ranked second among all service sector complaints received, according to a news release from Greater Sudbury Utilities.

"@Home Energy does not go door-to-door to get your business,” said Josey Frescura, vice-president of @Home Energy, in a news release. “We only show up if you call and ask us to come. These salespeople tend to be aggressive, and often target the most vulnerable in our community, the elderly.”

The deals sound too good to be true, and they are, Frescura said. In fact, the fine print often reveals the contracts have huge annual rate increases and cover extended periods of time — sometimes as long as 15 years.

Those companies going door-to-door must buy a licence from the city to do so, but their licence has a City of Greater Sudbury logo on it, which leads many consumers to assume they work for the city. And often, the salespeople do not correct that assumption.

There are steps residents can take to help prevent themselves from becoming a victim of fraud.

The Ministry of Consumer Services suggests:
-Ask for identification: Ask to see photo ID, the name of the company they work for, and keep a copy of any sales material they show you.
-Don't sign on the spot: Insist you have time to review the whole contract at your leisure, including the fine print.
-Get it in writing: ask about the details like rental fees, installation, repair, any extra service charges, warranty — and make sure they are written in the contract.
-Be sure before you buy: If you agree to have a water heater installed, you will incur costs if you change your mind. You may, however, be able to cancel, depending on circumstances.
Greater Sudbury Police Service adds:
-Licensed door-to-door salespeople are required to obtain a police clearance to conduct business and cannot be operating before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
-Ask salespeople for their full company name, location and phone number. Ask them to leave a copy of the sales contract and any other product or warranty information for you to review carefully on your own.
-If you find someone conducting door-to-door sales without a licence, call 311 and ask for the bylaw department or the licensing officer.
-If you are not interested in hearing a sales presentation or purchasing an item, request that the salesperson leave your property and record your address on their “do not solicit” list. If the salesperson refuses to leave your property, call the police immediately.

The Province's Consumer Protection Act protects consumers who rent water heaters. Visit www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/Hot_Water_Heater.aspx for more information.A company owned by Greater Sudbury Utilities is warning residents that it does not go door-to-door to solicit for business.
 most vulnerable in our community, the elderly.”

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