In the new year, expect fewer door-to-door salespeople to come knocking at your door.
The Alberta government has banned door-to-door sales of furnaces, water heaters, windows, energy contracts, air conditioners, and energy audits as of Jan. 1, 2017. Energy companies who continue with door-to-door sales could face a fine or possible charges under the Fair Trading Act.
Over 1,000 complaints since 2010 led to the government’s decision to ban this practice. Service Alberta Minister Stephanie McLean said government investigators “have heard it all,” explaining Albertans “have complained about door-to-door salespeople, they’ve complained about deliberate misrepresentation, being sold products that they don’t need, and contracts not being cancelled upon request.”
Energy providers still have options to reach customers. McLean said, “Companies can still offer a great deal. They just have to do it in ways that don’t involve the salesperson at your door. They have to do it in a way that doesn’t cause a person at your door to force you into making a decision on the spot,” said McLean. Instead, companies can reach customers through mail, phone, internet, or mall kiosks.
McLean held the press conference in Calgary resident Ruth Zinck’s home. The 88-year-old said last April she opened the door to an energy salesperson. Zinck told the salesperson she wasn’t interested in switching to another contract or another supplier. But the next day, she was surprised to discover the salesperson had signed her up without her consent, under her deceased husband’s name.
“I don’t know he managed to see it, but he knew with whom I was associated and he managed to cancel that contract and install his own,” Zinck said. “I had not signed it, I had not said verbally I would be interested in them and yet I had a contract.”
Zinck tracked down a representative in Guatemala. With the help of a friend, a registered letter, and some other communications, she cancelled the contract.
“I have become very apprehensive about anyone coming to my door,” said Zinck.
Alberta Avenue resident Michelle Kurulok said she thinks the ban is a good decision. “I have had some rotten sales people come to my home. They were pushy and tried to enter uninvited,” Kurulok said. “I am really sad that it had to go that far.”
McLean urged people to find out as much information as possible about an energy company before making a decision. “Alberta’s Utility Consumer Advocate is there to help you make informed choices on buying natural gas and electricity services.” She suggested visiting servicealberta.ca for more information about consumer rights.
If an energy salesperson comes knocking after Jan. 1, “feel free to close the door, say no thank you,” said Tina Faiz, press secretary for Service Alberta.
Faiz suggested recording the salesperson’s contact information (name, phone number, ID, and company name) and then calling the toll-free consumer protection line (1.877.427.4088).
Featured Image: It’s important to always thoroughly research companies before signing a contract. | Pixabay