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On December 6th, Minister of Service Alberta Stephanie McLean issued a Ministerial Order making amendments to the Alberta Fair Trading Act designed to address the growing concern about questionable door-to-door sales tactics used in the sale of HVACR and other products. 

The order amends the Direct Selling Business Licensing Regulation, by prohibiting the sale of certain products in a consumer’s home.  Specifically,

A direct selling business shall not solicit, negotiate or conclude a consumer transaction in person at a consumer’s home for the following goods and services:

a)      Furnaces;

b)      Air conditioners;

c)      Water heaters;

d)      Windows;

e)      Energy audits.

Under the law in Alberta, “Direct Selling is the business of soliciting, negotiating or concluding sales contracts in person at any place other than the seller’s place of business. These contracts are for goods or services that will be purchased by an individual for primarily personal, family or household use.” By this definition, it would appear that all residential HVAC retrofit companies in the province will be captured.

The regulation does not apply to sales where the customer “invites a direct selling business to attend at the customer’s home,” provided the invitation is “(a) express; (b) made by phone, email, text or other electronic communication, through the direct seller’s website, or in person at the direct selling business’s normal place of business or at such other place where the direct selling business is conducting business; and (c) made before the direct selling business attends at the customer’s home.”

Similar restrictions are introduced in the Order for marketing companies operating under the Energy Marketing and Residential Heat Sub-Metering Regulation and The Prepaid Contracting Business Licensing Regulation.  A “prepaid contracting business” is defined as a company that “solicits, negotiates or concludes prepaid contracts in person at any place other than the sellers’ place of business, and accepts money before all the work is done and/or the services are provided.”  Prepaid contracts are for construction, maintenance, repairing, altering, adding to or improving private dwellings, or real property used in conjunction with a private dwelling.  Contracts for commercial business and between contractors, sub-contractors and sub-trades are exempted.

HRAI is not aware of any industry consultation that took place prior to the issuing of this Ministerial Order, but will be meeting with government to gain a sense of the implications for the HVAC contracting industry as the regulation comes into effect.  There is reason to be optimistic that the regulation may address the problem of inappropriate door-to-door sales tactics, but whether it is truly effective will depend on the penalties for non-compliance, strategies for enforcement and public awareness raising.

This regulation came into force January 1st, 2017.

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