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Knock knock. Beware. Why door-to-door sales are not for HVAC equipment

(NC) Think it's safe to buy heating or cooling equipment from a door-to-door salesperson? Think again.

Thousands of Canadians get taken in each year by unscrupulous salespeople coming to their door selling everything from hot water tanks to new furnaces. They say they're from a legitimate business or utility company and seem to have all the bells and whistles – a nametag, an official-looking clipboard. But in fact they are attempting to persuade unsuspecting homeowners to buy products they don't need, and at an inflated price.

Sad thing is, they're very convincing. They might tell you your furnace is outdated, against code, dangerous even, or that you are being overbilled. They aim to frighten, and in some cases convince people to sign into multi-year rental or payment schemes that are impossible to get out of.

“These salespeople are misrepresenting themselves and they are very belligerent and very aggressive,” notes Nancy McKeraghan of Newmarket-based Canco ClimateCare. “We had one customer who was paying $29 a month to rent a thermostat, when a good programmable thermostat, installed, costs around $150!”

You can protect yourself by checking to see if the seller has a well-marked vehicle and asking for proper identification. Ask them to leave their business card, and advise them you will contact them at a later date once you've done your due diligence. If they insist the offer is limited to that moment, this should set off warning bells. And never, ever, let them into your home unless arranged in advance, once their credentials have been assessed.

Utility companies and respected heating and AC suppliers rarely sell door-to-door. Similarly, if a utility is servicing an area, it will inform residents in advance, and never ask to see a bill as it already has that information on file.

When buying or renting a water heater, furnace or air conditioner, do it from a trusted store or through a licensed contractor. Make sure you have plenty of time – days even – to review the product information, the options and, most importantly, the fine print.

If you want to buy something at your door, best to stick to Girl Guide cookies and other small purchases.

For more consumer tips and information, visit www.hrai.ca/educationcentre.html or for information on how to locate a qualified contractor in your area, visit www.hrai.ca/qualifiedcontractors.html

www.newscanada.com

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