Sales agents are still knocking on doors. But many have found a more lucrative pursuit than replacing water heaters.
Now they’re pushing you to replace your furnace and air conditioner under a 10-year lease. While a water heater costs $ 25 a month to rent, a heating and cooling system can be $ 150 to $ 175 a month (plus HST).
Misrepresentation: “They entered my home under the pretext of inspecting my furnace venting. Since I thought they were with the Ontario government, I assumed I was protected as a consumer and contract terms would be fair and ethical.”
Misleading claims: “They said the savings on my Enbridge gas bill would offset the rental charge of $ 80 a month. I thought that included furnace and air conditioning, but they made me sign two contracts of $ 80 each. I missed the ‘each’ because I was distracted by my son.”
Fear-mongering: “They said my furnace qualified for free replacement under a safety recall issued by the government. While I saw rental clauses in the contract, they said it was really not a rental agreement.”
Exaggerated rebate: “They explained that Ontario Power Authority pays their company $ 1,300 for the new furnace and air conditioning. There was no rental fee and no installation cost.” The Ontario rebate is only $ 250 for installing a high-efficiency furnace and $ 250 to $ 400 for a central air conditioning system, depending on the efficiency level. The maximum rebate is only $ 650.
Rob Jutras, Reliance’s vice-president of sales and marketing, said a notice of security interest (or lien) is registered against properties in which rental furnaces and air conditioners are located. This is outlined in the rental agreement that customers sign.
Reliance’s main rival, Enercare, registers a notice of lease of chattel on a property when the rented equipment has a value of $ 5,000 or more.
“This does not represent a lien or a debt by the homeowner,” said spokesman Jason Frost, “but simply indicates there is equipment installed at the property, which is on lease.”
“Enercare will also attach a copy of the lease, so that the specific equipment and rental terms are known. This registration serves to protect Enercare and the homeowner if and when the homeowner chooses to sell the property.”
Do not succumb to pressure from a salesperson at your door. Do your own research.
Furnace leases are not covered under the same law as water heaters. Some agents will say anything to get you to sign up. Find out if you have time to change your mind and cancel without a penalty.
Level 3: Find more information on rebates at https://www.saveonenergy.ca/Consumer/Programs/HVAC-Rebates.aspx .
Ellen Roseman is holding a fee seminar on financial basics workshop Tuesday, April 5, at Ryerson University’s Chang School, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., at 297 Victoria St., 7th floor, Toronto. It’s open to everyone who wants to brush up their money management skills. Her column appears Tuesdays in Smart Money.
TORONTO STAR | BUSINESS | PERSONAL_FINANCE