-Translated from french-

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

“There seems to be an increase in advertisements on Facebook, which are specifically aimed at homeowners to promise them energy savings, home insulation subsidies for example, energy efficiency inspections, and this is often presented under the cover of ecology, he explains in a telephone interview. It is not known whether 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, even though the photos he presents are not those of the residence inspected.

Another example concerns social media, where a company runs a contest to allow participants to win a heat pump or save $5,000 on work, thereby forcing the “winner” to do business with them.

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. Then it’s easy for them to say you’re getting $5,000 off when the price has already been inflated.

Charles Tanguay, spokesperson for the OPC

Another strategy used by these dishonest companies is to suggest to potential customers that they will be able to sign up for large government subsidies that would allow them to significantly reduce their energy bills.

Information misused

In certain cases, explains Mr. Tanguay, the traveling salesman asks the owner of the residence to sign a form to see if he is eligible for financial assistance for carrying out work.

The following meeting subsequently turns out to be a sales session where no tactic is ruled out to get the customer to quickly sign up for “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 emphasizes. There are also companies that don’t really exist, which rush to take a deposit and which will immediately disappear. »

Check before signing

The law allows consumers who regret signing a contract to reverse 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 signing any agreement within 24 hours and taking the time to weigh the merchant’s proposal before accepting it. All this gives the informed consumer time to carry out certain research to ensure the validity of the offer, in particular on the OPC website where a register indicates whether a merchant holds a permit to make itinerant sales, if he has been the subject of a lawsuit or if he has already been served with notice by consumers.

The Transition Energie Québec and Hydro-Québec websites, among others, list subsidy programs and eligibility criteria.

Mr. Tanguay also invites consumers to validate the legitimacy of the merchant on the Business Register or to consult the Register of license holders of the Régie du logement 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 written with the financial assistance of the Meta Exchange and The Canadian Press for News.