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Thinking of switching your water heater at the door?

You’ve probably experienced this before. You’ve just sat down for dinner after a long day at work and the doorbell rings. Not too many people show up to your house unannounced, so you cautiously get up from the table and try to see who is at the door without them seeing you. You don’t want to answer but you just can’t help yourself (after all, it could be an emergency).

And then, just like that, you’ve fallen into their trap and are bombarded with what sounds like a reasonable proposition. Here are 3 must-knows before you make that decision.

1. Make sure you know what company you’re actually dealing with.

Believe it or not, many door-to-door water heater salespeople claim to be from other companies to gain your trust.  Some even claim to be from other types of businesses like insurance representatives or your utility provider.  Make sure you are absolutely sure you know exactly who you’re dealing with.

2. Make sure you understand exactly how the new contract and your new billing are going to work.

Don’t sign anything until you’ve read and understood all of the fine print.  If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.  Here are some fine print examples people have run into:

  • The contract has no end date and severe penalties for terminating.
  • If you ever want to switch providers or leave the program, only the company who installed the water heater is allowed to remove it and can charge upwards of $1,000 to do it.
  • The price increases automatically every year by at least 3.5%

3. Make sure you’ve done the true-value math (not salesperson math).

Claims of huge energy savings by upgrading are usually exaggerated in order to get you to switch. Do the math yourself instead of taking a stranger’s word for it. Ask for the exact energy efficiency rating of the tank or for its model number so you can look it up yourself online. Don’t just trust the claims and guesses of a salesperson. Also, consider how that math works over the life expectancy of the unit given the yearly price increases.  Do the savings still hold up?

Made the switch and feeling like you got duped?  You can take action!

The Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services is here to protect all Ontario consumers from unfair business practices.

Helpful ministry links:

Your rights as a consumer (http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/Your_Consumer_Rights.aspx)
How to make a complaint (http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/Consumer_Protection_Toolbox.aspx)
Cancelling a contract (http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/Cancel_a_Contract.aspx)
Consumer beware list (http://www.consumerbeware.mgs.gov.on.ca/catsct/start.do?lang=en)

You can also warn others about your bad experiences through review sites like  http://www.homestars.com or visit http://www.burndedatthedoor.com to share your stories.

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{ 7 comments… add one }

  • rose feeney June 22, 2012, 3:23 pm

    problem solved :)

  • rose feeney June 22, 2012, 2:19 pm

    well I just came home from work to jump in the shower it is now 2:20 and servicemen are still a NO SHOW!!!!

  • James Norton June 16, 2012, 9:53 am

    I was duped like this except it was on a service call. I am with Reliance and my old water heater finally gave up and died. Reliance was very quick to get out to replace it but told me I had to upgrade to a powered direct vented water heater. So now I am paying more for my water heater, it is loud and noisy and it is also wasting more electricity. I also looked into it and since it no longer vents with my furnance up the chimney as it used to for most likely 40+ years my furnace is considered orphaned and most likely does not supply enough exhaust on it’s own which could lead to quicker degredation of my chimney piping. I felt strong armed into switching to a higher cost water tank as the technician who was installing it was saying that is all he could install. I should have demanded the same water heater or gone to someone else. Now I am stuck with a water heater I do not like. This is just a warning to know all your options before getting your hot water tank serviced.

  • Doug Vanderwater June 15, 2012, 5:48 pm

    We have encountered a sales pitch like this on more than one occasion, usually presented at an inconvenient time. .My comment is that my water tank is working just fine and that when it fails, Ill call the Reliance Home Comfort company. I did not find out who the salesman was … but he was armed with lots of brochures and parerwork. I tell the salesperson that changes in my water heating system will be made when I think it is necessary.

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