Being Safe with Grants and Rebates, and Avoiding Scammers

Tom Rand - Walker Climate Care
Being Safe with Grants and Rebates, and Avoiding Scammers

Many industries have earned themselves reputations; whether in fairness or in error, but they’re perceptions that are widely held by the public all the same. Doctors who are so persistently late they have waiting rooms to accommodate their patients, lawyers who are so verbose they need 14” paper while the rest of us use 11” … the list goes on and on. And while these examples are said in jest, there’s a much more serious dark cloud that looms over the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning industry – that of legitimacy.

While most contractors of all skilled trades are honest professionals, like in most things, there are a nasty few who can spoil it for the rest. In the HVAC business some examples were so egregious that the Ontario government introduced new legislation on March 1st 2018 preventing the door-to-door sales of HVAC equipment province-wide as part of its Consumer Protection Act.

These disreputable contractors, often referred to as trunk slammers or door knockers, generally employ high pressure sales tactics and deal in lengthy contract terms with no upfront pricing or cash sale options. Unfortunately, these tactics sometimes work – particularly with the elderly. If you think it can’t happen here, or to you – think again! One such example from Cornwall made national headlines just a few years ago.

So, what can we do to protect ourselves? Firstly, deal with a contractor who has a good reputation (as discussed in this column last December). Secondly, look for signs of legitimacy like a business name you recognize, you can verify they’ve got a physical office with real employees, they’ve got a registration number with the TSSA for any gas appliances they’d install (this should be on every one of their fleet vehicles), employees who readily share their full names and contact details, and so on. Equally importantly, make sure you’re at ease with the agent(s) of the business you deal with. Whether it’s a salesperson you’ve invited into your home for a consultation, or an administrator you speak to over the phone, you should get the feeling that your contractor is being honest and upfront with you and always treating you fairly and with respect.

If rebates or grants are part of the conversation, don’t be shy about pressing the contractor for details. They should easily be able to refer you to government web pages or phone numbers to verify the legitimacy of these programs. Importantly, all the advice proffered above also applies to any energy auditors who get involved in the process, too. Given the length and scope of Natural Resource Canada’s Greener Homes Grant, we’ve unfortunately been made aware of disreputable organizations falsely masquerading as energy auditors to deceive the public.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly – understand what you’re agreeing to. If you’re paying lump sum, the pricing is straight forward. If you’re financing or renting, make sure you understand the monthly financial commitment, the term length, and the total financial commitment at the end, and if any additional buyout fees apply which is typical in rental contracts, but not for financed purchases.

Everyone deserves a contractor who is honest. Make sure you pick one that makes you feel good about doing business with them, too!

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