Thursday, February 05, 2009

Door to Door Sales.

6:22pm. Ottawa Ontario, Canada. KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.

Alf, the Jack Russel starts his signature barking. Amy looks at her dinner, and mumble "Who the hell is that?". As she sends the dog downstairs, she opens the front door to see a door to door sales rep.

"I am sorry to bother you mam. Just three minutes of your time can save you $20 a month on energy costs. Wouldn't you like to reduce your energy costs?"

And the salesmanship starts. Amy still wondering about her cooling pork chop is half listening. The sales rep is smooth and quick, and before you know it he has an "Application" form for services. Cindy has a quick look and signs the application. She goes back in, finishes her dinner and forgets about it.

Two days later while cleaning up, she finds the application. She starts to have a closer read.

She is shocked.

The "Application" looks like an actual agreement. And she has signed up for 5 years of energy from a particular company. After doing a small bit of math, she is actually going to SPEND $20 more a month not save. She is not impressed.

Cindy, there is no need to fear. In Ontario there is the Consumer Protection Act. 2002. This piece of legislation was enacted to protect you from this type of situation.

The law basically says that if a company signs a contract with you, outside of their normal place of business, and it is worth more the $50, then you as a consumer have an automatic 10 day "cooling off period". These agreements are called direct agreements.

In actuality you get 10 days from the time you receive a written copy of the agreement.

This cooling off period is absolute. You do not have to explain what or why. You can just cancel it. To cancel it you should send a letter in witting, via registered mail or fax. Anyway really that gives you a proof of delivery.

Your cancellation letter should have three parts. Description, Cancellation, Request for Confirmation.

DESCRIPTION: Make sure you describe the services, and the agreement you signed. Highlight it was at your home. If you have an application number, or an agent number refer to it. This letter needs to give enough information to the company so they can cancel your services. If you don't give them the proper details you may have a problem down the road.

CANCELLATION: In this paragraph you say you which to cancel the contract. You are exercising your rights, under the Consumer Protection Act, and cancelling within 10 days of receiving the written agreement. Do not feel you have to qualify. Do not give any room that you may be "talked back into it". Make it crisp and clean.

CONFIRMATION: In the last paragraph ask for written confirmation that the letter has been received, and your account has been cancelled accordingly. Make sure you give ways for them to contact you, other then by mail. Companies do not like confirming these things in writing.

Be polite, and confident in your writing style.

Most jurisdictions have some form of regulations for Door to Door sales, For example in some states, there are specific clauses that must be within a contract being sold door to door. If you need help researching your case, let me know. You can also contact your Attorney Generals Office, Consumer Protection Branch, or in Canada, your provincial Consumer Protection Branch.

Never feel pressured to sign at the door. If the deal is a one shot deal by committing right there and then, think long and hard. Your location may have a cooling off period for such agreements.

Copyright © 2009 Peter MacSweeney.
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author is forbidden. Contact the author through the comment form for all inquiries, including media.

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