A Port Coquitlam resident is warning others about a door-to-door furnace sales practice that he worries could be a scam.
Clive Burgess said the salesperson rang his doorbell at about 5 p.m. last Friday and immediately started pitching him on a new furnace system.
“He kept saying, ‘I just need to look at your furnace to see if you qualify for a rebate,’” Burgess said, adding the salesperson was “very pushy” in trying to gain entry into his home, even after Burgess refused, and repeatedly asked for a chance to check the furnace.
Burgess said the pitch was for a furnace and maintenance program that would cost nearly $100 per month over 10 years, costing the homeowner nearly $10,000 over the life of the contract. Those who purchase the system and then sell their home have to buy out the contract or transfer it to the new homeowner, he added.
Burgess said while he refused the offer, he’s worried an elderly neighbour might not be able to stand up to the high-pressure sales tactics.
Evan Kelly of the Better Business Bureau of Mainland B.C. said there are 39 complaints lodged against the company in Ontario but, so far, the local BBB has only received a couple of calls about it.
“I would hesitate to call it a scam at the moment,” Kelly said. “It’s just a high-pressure sales tactic. But everybody has the right to say no and to not let anybody in their house.”
Kelly said their concern is the salespeople may be misleading homeowners by citing government rebate programs that may or may not exist.
A spokesperson for Simply Green Home Services said the company, formed in 2013, “does not engage in any scam selling at all.”
“We have fully compliant operations across Canada,” said Alfred Apps, Simply Green’s corporate counsel. All sales people are provided intensive training to ensure they comply with direct seller legislation and consumer complaints are handled directly, with fewer than five remaining in Ontario that are in the process of being resolved, Apps said.
The rebates being offered in B.C. are through FortisBC, which include $500 for a tankless hot water heater and up to $200 for a non-tankless system, he added.
In a separate incident, FortisBC sent out a warning last week after the utility received a spike in complaints about scammers showing up unannounced at people's homes, claiming to offer appliance or meter inspections, or selling or repairing any products.
A FortisBC spokesperson said company representatives never go door to door, and added if the salesperson asks to see your gas or electricity bill, decline as your bill contains personal information and should not be shared with anyone.
Customers can be certain they are speaking to a legitimate FortisBC customer service representative if they contact FortisBC at 1-888-224-2710.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at www.antifraudcentre.ca or by calling 1-888-495-8501. As well, you should let your police department know: Coquitlam RCMP at 604-945-1550 or Port Moody Police Department at 604-461-3456.