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Fraudulent traveling sales schemes | The Consumer Protection Office issues a warning



(Montreal) Immense energy savings, free inspection, attractive prize competition, subsidies to finance the work: online merchants or door-to-door merchants do not hesitate to resort to dishonest and illegal practices , warns the Consumer Protection Office (OPC).

He reminds us that it is prohibited by the Consumer Protection Act to use false pretenses to solicit a sale. We see a lot of this kind of practice in the fields of energy and decontamination, underlines Charles Tanguay, spokesperson for the OPC.

“There seems to be a proliferation of ads on Facebook, specifically targeting homeowners with the promise of energy savings, home insulation grants for example, energy efficiency inspections, and it’s often presented as the cover of ecology, he explains in a telephone interview. We do not know if it is a company, an association or the government. We play a lot on this ambiguity of not knowing who we are dealing with. »

The OPC mentions the example of a merchant who comes to a residence offering to inspect or clean air ducts free of charge with the hidden aim of selling a new appliance, or that of an individual who offers to inspect the attic of a property and who suddenly discovers the presence of mold, which would require urgent decontamination work, when the photos he presents are not those of the residence inspected.

Another example concerns social networks, where a company organizes a contest to allow participants to win a heat pump or save $5,000 on work, thus forcing the “winner” to do business with it.

It must be taken into account that many of these companies sell heat pumps for two, three or even four times the price they are worth. For them, it’s then easy to say that you win $5000 off when the price has already been inflated.

Charles Tanguay, spokesperson for the OPC

Another strategy used by these dishonest companies consists in suggesting to their potential customers that they will be able to subscribe to important government subsidies which would enable them to considerably reduce their energy bills.

Information misused

In some cases, explains Mr. Tanguay, the itinerant salesman suggests that the owner of the residence sign a form to see if he is eligible for financial assistance for carrying out the work.

The next meeting later turns out to be a sales session where no tactic is ruled out to get the client to sign up quickly to “contracts which are generally very expensive and not very advantageous”.

“Remember that you are providing personal information that can be misused by these companies,” the spokesperson said. There are also companies that do not really exist, which rush to take a deposit and which will immediately disappear. »

Check before signing

The law allows consumers who regret having signed a contract to reconsider their decision within 10 days. However, it is preferable not to sign anything under pressure, at the risk of regretting it and having to take steps to get rid of the agreement, underlines Mr. Tanguay.

He strongly recommends not initialing any agreement within 24 hours and taking the time to weigh the merchant’s proposal before accepting it. All of this gives the informed consumer time to do some research to ensure the validity of the offer, in particular on the OPC site where a register indicates whether a merchant holds a permit to make itinerant sales, if it has been the subject of a lawsuit or if it has already been put on notice by consumers.

The sites of Transition energetic Québec and Hydro-Québec, among others, list the subsidy programs and the eligibility criteria.

Mr. Tanguay also invites consumers to validate the legitimacy of the merchant on the Register of enterprises or to consult the Register of license holders of the Régie du bâtiment du Québec if the company wishes to carry out work.

Finally, the spokesperson recommends that owners have several submissions made before deciding on a company.

This dispatch was produced with financial assistance from the Meta Exchange and The Canadian Press for News.

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