(DUFFERIN COUNTY, ON) Every year when the weather warms up the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) sees an influx in calls for service related to suspicious door-to-door sales agents. Whether it be an "Energy Advisor " requesting to see your hot water tank or an out of town paving crew that has some "left-over" asphalt at a bargain price, you need to be on your game if you answer the door.
Here are some tips to protect yourself when the next door-to-door salesperson shows up at your doorstep.
Ask for Identification-Reputable companies use photo ID. Don't let the salesperson start their pitch until you have seen photo ID. Get the name of the business and the name of the salesperson. Search online and complete Better Business Bureau checks on the company. If they don't have identification with them they are likely scam artists.
Get the Info in Writing-Ask about the rental fees, installation, repair and extra service charges. Review the warranties and insist on getting the details in writing.
Keep copies of this information. Get a detailed written estimate. Once you have a written estimate, the supplier cannot charge you more than 10% above the quote unless you ask them to do more work. A contractor that fails to provide paperwork such as estimates, contracts, professional licences, permits and invoices is quite likely a scammer.
Don't Sign on the Spot-If the salesperson pressures you to sign on the spot, don't. Shut the door or insist that you need additional time to read and understand the agreement. Reputable salespeople will carry brochures about their products or services. A "deal" is never only good for that visit. Take your time and do your homework.
Down Payments-If a deposit is required, keep it to a minimum. Ten percent should be adequate in most cases. Never pay the full amount of the contract before the work is all done. Remember, legitimate home renovation companies have enough credit to buy the materials they need to complete the job.
Trying to Save a Buck-Be wary of a price that is well below the industry standard. It could be a sign of lowerquality work or you may see higher charges later. Be careful with suppliers that offer to do the work without charging tax or demanding to be paid in cash. Sometimes this is a sign of unprofessional work and if you have a dispute over terms of payment you may find yourself unable to enforce your agreement.
Don't Give out Personal Information-There is a chance the stranger at the door is "fishing" for information that could be used for illegitimate purposes. Remember, they are at your door trying to provide information about a product, do not give up personal information about yourself or your property.
Understand the Agreement-How long does the agreement last? Are there any other costs other than the monthly rental? Are there any fees if you cancel the agreement? Will the company renew the rental agreement without your prior written consent?
Know Your Consumer Rights-The Ontario Consumer Protection Act protects people who enter into rental contracts from door to door salespeople. You are entitled to a 10 day cooling off period to change your mind and opt-out of any cont ract you sign. All charges within the contract must be exactly as they are stated. For example, a company is not allowed to add a surcharge that is not noted unless it is a tax.
It's Your Home! -You do not have to let a salesperson inside your home and you have every right to ask anyone to leave your property.
If they do not leave, call the police. An unwanted person in your home or on your property can be removed, arrested if necessary, and charged under the Trespass to Property Act.
Please follow and share these tips with family members that may be vulnerable. Remember, reputable sales agents and companies comply with the law. If you believe the business or salesperson made a false, misleading or deceptive statement you may have further remedies under the Consumer Protection Act. Further information can be found at: www.ontario.ca/ConsumerServices If you encounter a suspicious sales agent at your door please use this information to keep your money in your pocket.
Should you have any concerns or questions about a recent suspicious door to door sales agent or transaction you may call Dufferin County OPP at 1-888-310-1122