Petrolia woman urges caution with door-to-door salesmen

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Bonnie Elliott wants to make sure no one falls for a slick salesman at the front door.

The Petrolia woman had a close call this weekend. She was in her yard doing some clean up when a door-to-door salesman startled her. “He seemed to jump up from behind the car,” she told The Independent.

The man told her he had authority to check the furnaces in every home in the neighbourhood and her unit had to be inspected. “I thought, ‘If he has to check the furnace, I’ll get it done and over with.’”

She led the man downstairs to her old furnace, which is still in good working order. Elliott had been investigating replacing it, but had not made any decisions yet.

The salesman took one look, called it a dinosaur and told her it had to be replaced. “He said ‘This furnace has to go and aren’t you lucky, I can offer you a new one.’”

So Elliott listened to his pitch, $69.95 a month and she would have a new furnace which used less gas and electricity and took up less space. The salesman told her “’Anything breaks down, day or night, we’ll be there.’ Well, you can see how that solved all my problems.”

Elliott says it was only after she awkwardly shook the man’s left-hand that she felt perhaps this wasn’t the best idea.

But it was too late; the salesman was out the door and down the street. After examining the contract she realized it was a 15-year rental agreement which she would pay about $14,000 for a furnace she would never own.

Elliott turned to her neighbour, Petrolia Councilor Joel Field. “I found the guy on the street and talked to him. He tried to convince me of the deal.”

Under Petrolia’s bylaws, selling door to door without a permit is illegal. Field advised Elliott to call, email and fax the company that she had changed her mind and wanted out of the contract. Under the Ontario Consumer Act, you can get out of a contract 10 days after signing it with no strings attached.

Field also called in the bylaw officers, who went looking for the salesman. The OPP were also called in to help.

Field is urging residents to simply turn any salesmen away from their doors, especially if they’re offering amazing deals. “If it is that good of a deal, they shouldn’t have to sell it door-to-door.”

Petrolia’s Chief Administrative Officer Manny Baron says bylaw enforcement officers talked to the manager at Ontario Energy Services “to ensure the contract was cancelled.” He also told council Monday the manager promised to “deal with the individual one-on-one so it doesn’t happen again.”

That’s why Elliott is speaking out, despite some embarrassment about being caught in the scam,

“I felt so stupid. I was just in a bad spot and I thought it was an answer to a prayer. It certainly was not. It was a nightmare.

“I just don’t want other people to fall for it,” she says. “If they come to the door, turn them away.”





2 Responses to “Petrolia woman urges caution with door-to-door salesmen”

  1. Marie

    First mistake was letting a complete stranger in your home. This woman is lucky he was only after a signature; the outcome could have been much worse!

  2. Stacey

    Thank you, Bonnie, for coming forward and making people aware of such scams. In my field (Financial Services), we see people fall for scams all the time. The more people, like yourself, that come forward, the less likely it will happen to someone else! Also, kudos to “The Independent” for posting the bylaws on this sort of thing. Very important information to those who get caught in a similar situation!