Unfortunately, as a Guelph plumber I hear frequent complaints about dubious door-to-door sales pitches involving sales reps who supposedly need to check your water heater. I hate to hear of people getting ripped off. This is a scam, and it goes like this:
You answer a knock at your door to find someone who is likely wearing a uniform and holding some paperwork. They look somewhat official, and advise you that they need to check your water heater. If you ask too many questions or suggest they come back later, these folks can become very pushy.
Once inside, they’ll “inspect” your water heater and likely will tell you that it’s old, inefficient, or otherwise in need of replacement. You’ll be asked to sign a contract on the spot.
Unfortunately, this is a scam by companies seeking to get people signed on often-exorbitant contracts. The first bill arrives, is a huge shock, and then people realize they have been duped.
If you’ve been approached by folks like this, you are not alone. Instances of this have led to so many consumer complaints that it prompted the Government of Ontario to issue a public warning on the subject.
How should you handle these types of high-pressure tactics?
- First and above all else: never let someone in your home, unless you’ve called and invited them. Folks, this is basic security and self preservation. If you do invite them in, ask for identification. But be warned, good scammers can have fake business cards and the like. Your best defense is to simply refuse anyone access.
- If you’ve let someone in, but warning bells are starting to go off and you feel like you’re being scammed, absolutely refuse to sign anything on the spot. Ask them to leave your home and to leave a purchase order or contract for you to review. There is no reason that you should have to sign any contract without having time to consider it and review the terms.
- Personally, I have a “no solicitations” sign on the front door, something I added after these and other solicitations became daily (and nightly) nuisances. The sign works, for the most part. The occasional person still comes to the door, but I just calmly point to the sign and they get the picture.
Please be careful and be on the lookout for water heater scams.