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Government bans door-to-door energy sales

Province says the ban will protect people from misleading, high-pressure sales practices

  • Nov. 25, 2016 8:56 p.m.

Starting Jan. 1st, Alberta will prohibit unsolicited door-to-door selling of energy products to protect people from misleading, high-pressure sales practices.

Alberta is banning door-to-door sales of furnaces, natural gas and electricity energy contracts, water heaters, windows, air conditioners and energy audits.

Government officials have said they have 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.

“We heard loud and clear from Albertans who are frustrated by knocks on their doors and aggressive sales pitches in their homes. That’s why we’re taking action to protect Albertans by ending aggressive door-to-door energy sales,” said Stephanie McLean, minister of Service Alberta.

Gordon Voth, president of Seniors United Now said he supports the government’s actions to protect consumers from door-to-door energy sales.

“We know that seniors are often targets of misleading, high-pressure sales tactics and this ban will help prevent many seniors from feeling forced into energy contracts and purchases they don’t need or want,” he said.

Government officials also added that energy companies have multiple channels to sell directly to Albertans, including telephone and online sales, kiosks and advertising. All of these options remain open to them. Consumers are still able to invite salespeople to their homes, free from the pressure of having an unexpected, unwanted visit.

This action caps a week of government actions to improve the electricity system to protect Albertans.

They include putting an electricity price cap of 6.8 cents per kilowatt hour in place for families and small businesses on the Regulated Rate Option from June 2017 until June 2021; announcing the creation of an electricity capacity market to provide a future supply of reliable power at stable, low prices and reaching agreements with power companies to provide an orderly transition from coal-generated power to new, reliable sources of electricity by 2030 and protecting taxpayers by achieving a settlement with Capital Power, AltaGas and TransCanada Energy that sees payments to the government in exchange for the early return of their Power Purchasing Arrangements.

“It’s our mission to advance marketplace trust, and one of the ways we do that is to call out unethical business practices. While BBB recognizes the many legitimate and trustworthy businesses who sell door-to-door, we hope these restrictions on misleading and high-pressure sales tactics will help create a marketplace where buyers and sellers can trust each other,” said Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen, president and CEO of the BBB, serving southern Alberta and East Kootenay.

Superintendent Guy Rook, Alberta RCMP officer in charge of federal enforcement added, “The RCMP welcomes this change. Our investigators have helped Albertans who have succumbed to fraudulent, high-pressure sales at their door.

”Real financial and emotional harm is often the result from these tactics, particularly among vulnerable persons in our communities. With this ban, we expect to see a noticeable decline in criminal incidents of unscrupulous, door-to-to-door sales of energy products.”

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

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