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)