Defeating a deceptive door-to-door salesperson

Warmer temperatures tend to bring an increase in door-to-door sales visits. While there are surely lots of honest people in the door-to-door sales profession, we only hear about the dishonest ones who are giving the industry a bad name. We want you to be able to spot them and help make sure you are never misled or pressured to sign a contract.

There are a few telltale signs and questions you can use to your advantage when someone knocks on your door. Also, as a customer, the law is in your favour and you are usually protected by a mandatory cooling off period.

Debunking the myths of the spontaneous door-knocking water heater company rep.

The next time someone shows up at your door there are a few different things you should consider, as well as things you should ask in order to confirm that they actually represent the company or brand name they are using to assert themselves as an “expert.”

    1. Drop-in water heater inspections don’t exist. To begin with, the idea is incredibly fiscally irresponsible and an established company won’t waste payroll to send “inspectors” or technicians to an unconfirmed appointment, let alone an unscheduled one. The odds of it being a waste of time, and therefore money, are too high. If someone arrives unannounced to inspect your water heater, it isn’t to tell you that your water heater is working just fine.


    1. Reputable companies use photo ID. For example, at Reliance all of our staff have photo ID right from their first day of work and are required to carry it at all times. Even support staff have it, and you will never even meet them face to face. If the person at your door doesn’t have photo ID then they do not work for Reliance. The same rule applies to our competitors, but usually not to the scam artists.


    1. Any reputable salesperson knows that a significant percentage of people will never buy on the spot. It’s a well-researched statistic. As a result, a reputable salesperson should always carry brochures showcasing their products to leave behind after a sales call. If you suspect someone has the intention of selling you something, ask to see the features, advantages and benefits of their product in a printed brochure that they can leave behind. If they can’t provide you with one, don’t even consider signing that contract. The only reason to have a contract and not the product brochures may be to mislead you into a poor purchase decision.


  1. The aforementioned purchase statistic also ensures that a “deal” is never only good for that visit. If you have been through the previous three steps and are comfortable with the offer on the table, there isn’t any reason not to go for it.

However, if you need time to consider it or discuss it with a family member, the offer will be there tomorrow.

Your rights as a consumer are protected by law.

In Ontario you are protected by the Consumer Protection Act, which was introduced in 2002 to protect consumers from misrepresentation by aggressive salespeople. Because of the Consumer Protection Act, you have the following rights as a consumer:

    1. You are entitled to a 10-day cooling off period to change your mind and opt out of any contract you sign for your water heater rental. The 10 days begin when you receive your copy of the written contract. The only exclusion is if you request the water heater be installed sooner than 10 days.


    1. All charges within the contract must be exactly as they are stated. For example, a company may not add a surcharge that is not noted unless it is a tax.


  1. You have a full year to cancel the contract if it doesn’t do the following:
  • disclose all key information you need to know (including costs)
  • inform you about your contractual rights.

For more information in Ontario, review the Consumer Protection Act and the list of your rights on the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services website.


{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Anthea January 25, 2014 at 3:30 pm

They’re back at it again! A rep claiming to be from Reliance came to our door despite the fact we have a notice stating salespeople are not welcome. He came in the evening around 7pm and temperatures were -21C outside. There he was stating that he had been canvassing the area since 8am and he was at our door to measure the water heater as it was going to be replaced. Needless to say my mother refused to open the door to let him inside the house. He became quite belligerent and rude telling her if she didn’t let him in, she would be charged an additional $464.00. This he claimed was a savings if he was allowed in and the measurements taken of the heater. In turn my mother got quite nasty with the guy, told him a few choice words, and slammed the door while laughing at him standing there shivering in the cold! I praised her and immediately called Reliance to inquire about this. I was advised to let others know what was happening and that they would NEVER send anyone to our home. Be ware of these scam artists!

Homeonwer January 29, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Two National reps came to the door claiming they were checking water heaters for upgrade eligibility and only Reliance customers were eligible for the upgrades. They told me they were “replacing Reliance because they charge for services they are not providing”. I felt like they were avoiding stating their actual intent and slandering Reliance to make a sale, so I told the to leave.

Anjali March 21, 2014 at 12:43 pm

This is all well and good but reliance is currently charging my parents for a water heater from another company and even with photos of the water heater, they are receiving bills months after my dad still called into complain.

Door-to-door is great, but the better scam is just sending bills to random households hoping they’ll pay!

Rich Massingham March 24, 2014 at 9:56 am

Please contact me with more information at and I will do my best to assist. Thanks ~ Rich

Leave a Comment


Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree

Previous post:

Next post: