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On November 25th, the Alberta government announced that, starting Jan. 1, 2017, it will prohibit unsolicited door-to-door selling of “energy products” to protect people from misleading, high-pressure sales practices.  More specifically, Alberta is banning door-to-door sales of: furnaces; natural gas and electricity energy contracts; water heaters; windows; air conditioners; and energy audits.

According to Service Alberta, the government has received well over 1,000 complaints about energy-related, door-to-door sales.  Many have come from seniors and families who felt tricked into buying furnaces or water heaters on the spot. In other instances, consumers felt unrelenting pressure to sign energy contracts with salespeople visiting their home two or three times in one day.  More recently, these same tactics have been used to sell furnaces, water heaters and air conditioning systems.

The decision has been praised by seniors groups, the Better Business Bureau and the RCMP.

Details of the proposed regulations have not yet been released. Though supportive in principle, HRAI will withhold public support until it has a chance to review the regulations in detail.  The recent experience in Ontario suggests that even well-intentioned legislation can have potentially devastating impacts on the marketplace.  The legislation will therefore have to be examined very carefully to ensure it targets the problem correctly, without punishing legitimate industry players.

According to Service Alberta staff, the prohibitions will not apply if the consumer expressly invites a business to their home and the invitation is made before the business attends at the consumer’s home.  Companies will continue to have multiple channels to sell directly to Albertans, including telephone and online sales, kiosks and advertising.  Consumers will still be able to invite salespeople to their homes, free from the pressure of having an unexpected, unwanted visit.

For more information, contact Martin Luymes at 1-800-267-2231 ext. 235 or email mluymes@hrai.ca.