Door-to-door energy sellers moving on to other scam methods, province warns

by Morinville News Staff

The door-to-door sale of energy products and services is against the law in Alberta since the ban on the practice came into effect Jan. 1, 2017.

The ban was introduced in response to more than 1,000 complaints from seniors and families who felt misled into buying furnaces or signing energy contracts. Door-to-door sales of furnaces, water heaters, windows, air conditioners, energy audits, natural gas and electricity energy contracts are included in the ban.

However, over the past month and a half, the government says it has received several reports about salespeople misrepresenting themselves to get invited into a customer’s home, something the province says violates Alberta’s consumer protection laws.

Service Alberta has received 18 complaints about door-to-door energy sales since the ban, and 10 investigations are underway for misleading methods.

“I want to remind Albertans they have protections in place. No one should feel pressured or tricked into making a purchase on the spot,” said Stephanie McLean, Minister of Service Alberta in a release Tuesday. “Our government banned door-to-door energy sales to make life better for Alberta consumers. We are monitoring the situation closely and will take further steps if necessary to protect Albertans from aggressive, misleading sales pitches at their doorsteps.”

Tami Lackey, Owner & CFO, Acclaimed! Heating, Cooling and Furnace Cleaning said she was impressed with how quickly Alberta’s government moved to combat deceitful business practices being used by some companies.

“We get calls from customers embarrassed they were scammed and left with faulty installations,” Lackey said. “We do our best to help and encourage everyone to do their research before signing any contract. ”

The government identifies the following misleading practices:

Companies misrepresenting themselves as an agent of a local utility or local municipality.

Using sale of light bulbs or furnace filters to get into a home to sell a banned item.

Telling customers they are conducting a survey or inspection to qualify for a non-existent rebate.

Penalties for companies that do not comply include a fine of up to $300,000 or up to two years’ imprisonment under the Fair Trading Act (FTA). Other sanctions include administrative penalties of up to $100,000, director’s orders and licensing actions.

Consumer complaints can be filed at http://www.servicealberta.gov.ab.ca/file-a-complaint.cfm

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