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By: k5 | posted in Complaints, News & Stories, Reviews |
Date: August 11th, 2010

On August 10, 2010, CBC News published an article about angry homeowners with door to door water heater sales tactics.

In that article:

“This is what they said: ‘We’re from the energy company, and we have to look at the water heater.’ They said something like upgrading it, or something like that,” Milne said.

“They fail to inform you that they are specifically not from your company. They avoid doing that… So I was immediately suspicious.”

Read the full article by CBC here, “Water-heater sales tactics anger homeowners”.

Currently there’s no law that requires door-to-door sales to state all the terms and conditions on their contract. Door to door water heater sale agents are aware of this and they are taking full advantage of it. You cannot get arrested for going to someone’s home selling anything and if you sign a contract, it is your responsibility to read it. The only thing that is illegal about door-to-door sale is that they can not misrepresent themselves or use any misleading and deceptive tactics. If you feel you been mislead – file a complaint against door to door water heater sale agents with the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services and the Ontario Energy Board.

Things to watch out for before signing a water heater contract at your door

  • long-term agreement, up to 15 years
  • There is a 10 days cooling off period (you can cancel within 10 days, no question ask, it is the law)
  • Contract need to be carry over if you sell your home
  • Cancelation fee

If you brought something from a door-to-door sale and you felt you been cheated. There’s a law in Ontario that requires all door-to-door sales costing over $50 to reaffirm over the phone after 10 days, as well as the “No Soliciting” signs for sale at your local Canadian Tire stores.

The rule of thumb for door-to-door sale is: do not sign anything you don’t understand.

Universal Energy Corporation’s history

Let’s have a look at the past history of Universal Energy Corporation.

On March 2009, Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) ordered Universal Energy to pay $300,000 USD to cover the costs of investigation related to the commission’s probe on the natural-gas marketing of its unit in Michigan. Read it at reuters.com, Universal Energy settles natural-gas marketing probe

On January 2009, The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) said it plans to issue a $200,000 fine to Toronto-based Universal Energy Corp. and a $100,000 fine to Summitt Energy Management of Mississauga for making “false, misleading or deceptive statements to consumers.” Read it at www.thestar.com, Alternative gas and electricity providers face fines over claims

On April 2010, Ontario Energy Board (OEB) imposes conditions on renewal of Universal Energy gas marketer license. The specific license requirements the Board imposed on Universal (or Just Energy, the parent company, on behalf of Universal) relate to its marketing practices. In its Decision and Order, the Board approved Universal’s license for two years instead of the usual five years.
OEB imposes conditions on renewal of Universal Energy gas and electricity supplier license

Where to file a complaint?

If you believe you been deceived by a door-to-door sale person. File your complaint and write your horror stories to the Ministry of Consumer Services.

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By: k5
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There are 12 comments for Door to door water heater sale is in the news…

  1. justburned says:

    I am currently in a battle with NHS to get out of my contract from April 2010. It is currently logged with the Ministry of Consumer Services/Customer Protection Branch. NHS seems to like to bind people to contracts unfairly, even when their motives are rather deceptive and misleading. I have documents stating the installation date of the water heater was the day after the contract was signed and they reaffirmed the day the contract was signed. If this isnt evidence as to the business practices of NHS i dont know what is. I asked NHS why install during the 10 day cooling off period,and if everything is to be on the up and up why not wait the 10 days and install then. They said they wouldve gladly have come and removed the tank had i called them within the 10 days. I told them that seems pretty risky to me and they said its the cost of doing business, spare me. All the info on all these threads say the same thing, they dont tell you the very important things upfront and if they did no one would sign up i.e 15 year lease, high exit fees and transferable to new homeowners. Needless to say, i received some information back from the Ministry. They had indicated to me that the Consumer Protection act does not prohibit consumers and business from arranging delivery of goods prior to conclusion of the 10 day cooling off period. I didnt require emergency water heater replacement. In my opinion, they assumed the risk here. One of their own officials said, this can be seen as trying to deny me my 10 day cooling off period as per the Toronto Star articles. In addition, it was my understanding they are suppose to reaffirm after the 10 day mark. They did reaffirmed the day the contract was signed. So i now have a few concerns about what the official had to initially say regarding the consumer protection act? Can someone validate what i've said? All these blogs say if they install within the 10 days or reaffirm before the conclusion of the 10 days then i should be able to get out of this contract. I told the Ministry i would be willing to buy out at a reasonable market value otherwise i want the water removed at their costs. Articles in the Toronto Star also seem to validate my claims i.e installing within cooling off period can be seen as trying to deny me cooling off period as per the statute. Any and all comments are appreciated.

    • Energy Review says:

      Didn't you made a comment about canceling a contract with gas and electricity provider?

      How did that go? Did you end up canceling without paying their ridiculous fee?

      As for your comment here about the water heater with NHS, you have 10 days to cancel any service or products sold at your door over $50. According to the Consumer Protection Act, 2002.

      Also read this about canceling a contract at the Ministry of Consumer's website. http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/Cancel_a_Co

      It state:
      1. The contract is subject to a cooling off period. You have the absolute right to cancel (for any reason) within 10 days of receiving a written copy of the agreement.

      2. The vendor has made a false, misleading or deceptive representation about the goods or services you agreed to buy or lease.

      Also read this page: http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/Your_Consum

      Look at the section You may be entitled to a cooling off period and this Sales incentives may not be false, misleading or deceptive

      So, in Ontario the law says you have 10 days to cancel any products or service you sign into at your door over $50 without any fee or reason.

      But in your case, you will have to prove that you wanted to cancel within the first 10 days. You will need some kind of letter or email along with the date and it was in fact within 10 days.

      The Ministry is right, they dont have any law about the delivery of the product or services, it only say if the product or service is not deliver within 30 days you may cancel.

      • justburned says:

        As a matter of fact i did just get word on my cancellation of gas and electricity with Just Energy. I stuck to my guns with the email i had sent them and they released me from the contract. I recently received the notice from Union Gas, my next bill should reflect the changes which should come in the next few weeks. Thanks for your answering of my questions. Its such a relief to be done with Just Energy.

        Regarding NHS, what about the reaffirmation period are they not to wait the 10 days and then make the call or is that only with gas and energy. The Toronto Star articles all talk of, NHS installing during this period can be seen as trying to deny my cooling off period. I maybe out of luck then. I asked him if they were affiliated with Just Energy and he said no. He said he's been inspecting water heaters in the area, and that they were offering a deal, 2 months free, free installation. He also created doubt by indicating i had outdated piping and they would install new TSSA approved piping. I was going on vacation the next week and i didnt get a chance to read all of the fine print and my waterheater was over 10 years old. I didnt realize i was locked in for the useful life of the asset. Nevertheless, i've made a case with the Ministry and well see how things go. I tried to deal with NHS directly but would not let me out and offered me 2months free rent as customer service gesture.

        What pisses me off if they dont have the balls to put the 15 year lease terms on the front of the contract, high exit/cancellation fees, and that the contract gets transferred to new owner. They do mention however the 3.5% increase per year on the front page and that by signing the agreement, i acknowledge and received and will be bound by the conditions on the reverse side. Did you think the representative disclosed any of those conditions. Needless to say i may be fighting a losing battle. I'll have to wait and see.

      • Energy Review says:

        Did you filed a complaint to OEB about your gas and electricity contract with Just Energy? Lets all speak up about this.

        About the pipe being outdated, I believe this is correct, but it is not mandatory to replace the pipes or the hot water tank. The pipes is still safe, only new tanks need the new pipes.

        You might want to try emailing Ellen Roseman, she wrote the article in thestar.com http://www.thestar.com/business/article/701345–w

        She helped out a lot of people, maybe she can give you some advices.

  2. justburned says:

    Oh you bet i a logged a complaint about Just Energy with the OEB. You're right we all have to speak up about JE's tactics and what there all about.

    I really believe the measures/actions they took, speaks volumes. Of course NHS doesnt see it that way, apparently its great customer service when they install water heaters the next day and they reaffirm the same day. If there so legit, for a truly 10 day cooling off period, they should wait to install after that period. Apparently if they install and people want to cancel within the 10 days and the water heater is then removed it is "the cost of doing business" as per NHS, whatta load of crap that is.

    We'll see what transpires with mediation between The Ministry of Consumer Services and NHS.I have definitely logged an e-complaint with the Ministry.

    Yes…i've read her articles and im hoping the information i've read in her articles can help me out. I may take you're advice and contact her and see if she has some advice.

    thanks

  3. TL says:

    The Director of Licensing for the Board acknowledged that the marketers have made "significant efforts," including weeding out the bad agents, cancelling the forged contracts, reimbursing customers for losses and contacting other customers signed by the agents.

  4. TL says:

    "The offending agents were terminated by OES prior to the Board's investigation"…….ANOTHER UPDATE SINCE ALL THE BAD Business OF THE PAST WENT DOWN. You cant hold this against a company JUST BECAUSE OF A FEW BAD APPLES …. I mean really??!! Especially since they took corrective action after investigations …….. Who and what company DOESNT EVER MAKE MISTAKES ?

    • Energy Review says:

      lol please…

      "a few bad apples" "not authorize by the company" "taking corrective action"

      Tell me something I don't know.

      Same ol' story.

  5. TL says:

    REALLY K5??? R U FOR REAL??!! I hope u dont screw something up …but then again you probably dont even work …since u seem to have soo much time in your smear campaign here …… I'd realLy like to know what YOUR CREDENTIALS ARE ?? You and some of your commentators tried to twist some of what ive said already…. you should really review what i have submitted and how you responded to it. Then you'll see where i am comin from as a new NHS CUSTOMER. I and my referrals HAD NO PROBLEMS with them whatsoever THIS IS 2011 PEOPLE GET OVER YOUR POROBS AND MOVE ON LIKE COMPANIES DO !! LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES AND MOVE ON!!! DUH!!! ( AND yes all this blathering and complaining showing up in my email box is really annoying me now) enuff is enuff!!

    • Energy Review says:

      What I do during my spare time is none of your business.

      That's right its 2011 and it's time to move on. I moved on but the website and information will be here forever.

      The government (OEB) won't solve all of this door-to-door problem, its people informing other people about companies using deceptive door-to-door sale.

      And why do I need to have any credentials? I need to have a phd to talk about my experience with some door-to-door sale?

  6. tl says:

    cHECK THIS OUT FELLOW CANADIANS !! Scroll down to "water tanks" the truth is revealed about RELIANCE (especially for those who dont believe the truth when its first told) SOLID PROOF THAT RELIANCE IS AN AMERICAN CO. NOW SINCE 2007!!!……YET THEY CONSTANTLY DENY IT ! WHY LIE TO ALL THEIR CUSTOMERS ABOUT WHO BOUGHT THEM OUT??!!
    http://www.alinda.com/active_investments

    AND!!!! THEY ARE STILL ASSOCIATED WITH THE UNION GAS…. therefore they make MORE $$$ BY NOT GIVING U A MORE EFFICIENT TANK/FURNACE OR A/C !! AND NOT DOING REG. MAINTENANCE WAKE UP CANADA!!! RELIANCE IS SCAMMING YOU!!!!….WHY BE SO LOYAL TO A CO. THATS JUST SENDING U A BILL EVERY 3 MONTHS IN ADVANCE??!! AND INCREASING IT W/ NO JUSTIFICATION FOR IT??? IF YOU ARE GOIN TO CONTINUE RENTING IT AT LEAST MAKE THEM GIVE U A NEW ENERGY STAR RATED TANK!!/FURNACE/AC

    STAND UP AND THINK FOR YOURSELVES INSTEAD OF ALL THIS NEGATIVE HYPE AGAINST A COMPANY WHO'S AT LEAST TRYING TO GIVE U BETTER SERVICE!!! BOTTOM LINE!

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