Push for ban on door-to-door ‘home service’ sales

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Municipal councillors in five major cities across Ontario are collectively calling upon the provincial government to implement a province-wide ban of door-to-door sales in the home service sector.  This includes the door-to-door selling of water heaters, water filtration systems, and furnaces.

Thousands of Ontarians experience aggressive and misleading sales tactics from some companies in the sector that continue to mislead, misrepresent, and use tactics of fear and pressure to sell people services they neither need or want. These contracts are often sold with inflated prices and severe cancellation fees, despite provincial legislation that is supposed to protect these consumers.

Since the campaign launched one week ago, the Councils in both Mississauga and Hamilton have unanimously passed resolutions calling upon the province to act this spring.  Councillors from Thunder Bay, Markham,Brampton, and other parts of the province are joining the call to action. They are also hoping other municipal leaders take up the cause.

“In Thunder Bay, fraudulent door to door sales activities is absolutely a problem and we need to do something about it,” said Thunder Bay Councillor Andrew Foulds.  “It is time for the Province to move on this.”

“This is not a partisan issue, but a consumer protection issue,” said Mississauga Councillor Karen Ras.  “The fact is, the existing provincial legislation in the home services sector is not working and thousands of Ontarians are being harmed by this.  That’s why I am calling on the province to step in and take action.”

Hamilton City Councillor, Sam Merulla, introduced the motion to his colleagues last night.  “I am delighted that my Council colleagues voted unanimously to call on the province to act. The StopTheKnocks campaign is focused on amending provincial legislation to prevent the continued victimization of residents by the predatory nature of some door-to-door sales representatives.”

The councillors want to ensure that the public knows this is not about charitable organizations or religious groups. Their Council motions are solely targeted at door-to-door sales in the home services sector, specifically for furnaces, waterheaters, HVAC equipment and water filtration devices. These sellers are turning their noses at the existing provincial legislation, misrepresent their identities, pose as government safety inspectors and tell their victims that they are there to conduct so-called mandatory checks.

Often these ‘checks’ result in the discovery of ‘critical problems’ that can only be resolved by replacing the water heater, filtration system, or furnace. In reality, dishonest salespeople have duped unsuspecting residents into signing up for a much more expensive agreement with significant cancellation fees in the thousands of dollars.

Councillor Gurpeet Dhillon from the City of Brampton said, “I continuously hear about scams at the door from my constituents, particularly in the home services space. This is a consumer protection issue which I’m hopeful the province will move quickly on.”

The Province recently took action by banning door-to-door sales for electricity and natural gas contracts by passing the Strengthening Consumer Protection and Electricity System Oversight Act, 2015.  The motion going before municipal councils calls on the Province to expand the ban of door-to-door sales in the home services sector, and to initiate a communications program to inform residents of the dangers of buying from door-to-door sellers.

The effort by these councillors build on a grassroots campaign launching through a petition on Change.org (http://chn.ge/1SmY9A8) and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com?StopTheKnocks/).  Homeowners acrossOntario are encouraged to lend their voices by signing the online petition, joining the campaign Facebook page, and encouraging other municipalities in Ontario to put forward similar motions of their own.

“This is not just a Hamilton issue or a Markham issue, but one that crosses every community in the province, from Thunder Bay to Toronto,” said Markham Councillor Colin Campbell. “I am very disappointed that these companies continue to engage in these deceitful practices. They do not fear prosecution under the current legislation. Homeowners must be protected. Only a total ban on door-to-door activities in the home services sector will achieve this.”

One such company has been recently charged with 142 breaches of the Consumer Protection Act due to this fraudulent and misleading sales conduct.  However, previous attempts by the Province to protect Ontarians have been unsuccessful. – CNW

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