Door-to-door energy sales: Know your rights
Door-to-door sale of energy products and services is against the law in Alberta.
Since the ban came into effect on Jan. 1, there have been a number of reports about salespeople misrepresenting themselves to get invited into a customer’s home. This violates Alberta’s consumer protection laws.
“I want to remind Albertans they have protections in place. No one should feel pressured or tricked into making a purchase on the spot. Our government banned door-to-door energy sales to make life better for Alberta consumers. We are monitoring the situation closely and will take further steps if necessary to protect Albertans from aggressive, misleading sales pitches at their doorsteps.”
“We are impressed with how quickly Alberta's government has moved to combat deceitful business practices being used by some companies. We get calls from customers embarrassed they were scammed and left with faulty installations. We do our best to help and encourage everyone to do their research before signing any contract. ”
The ban was introduced in response to more than 1,000 complaints from seniors and families who felt misled into buying furnaces or signing energy contracts.
So far in 2017, Service Alberta has received 18 complaints about door-to-door energy sales. Ten investigations are underway for misleading methods, such as:
- Misrepresenting themselves as an agent of a local utility or local municipality
- Using sale of light bulbs or furnace filters to get into a home to sell a banned item
- Telling customers they are conducting a survey or inspection to qualify for a non-existent rebate
“Our goal is to foster trust in the marketplace. With Alberta’s new ban, consumers can trust that businesses in these industries help them make informed decisions. Without high-pressure door to door sales tactics, trustworthy businesses will stand out even more.”
On Jan. 1, the Government of Alberta banned door-to-door sales of:
- water heaters
- air conditioners
- energy audits
- natural gas and electricity energy contracts
Penalties for companies that do not comply include a fine of up to $300,000 or up to two years’ imprisonment under the Fair Trading Act (FTA). Other sanctions include administrative penalties of up to $100,000, director’s orders and licensing actions.
Tips to protect yourself
- Be cautious of any calls asking you to allow a home visit for an inspection, audit, prize or rebate offer
- Ask questions about the company and always verify the information with your service provider before letting someone in your home
- Get an estimate and take time to shop around, check prices and research the company
- You have 10 days to cancel a door-to-door sales contract without a reason and without penalty
- Call Alberta’s consumer protection line toll-free at 1-877-427-4088 to report an incident.