Thou Shalt Not Sign Contracts At Thine Door

I had some errands to run on Saturday morning (before tackling rebuilding the blog) and when I got back my girlfriend told me that someone had came by with a great offer to replace our 6 year old water heating tank with a rental that would cost $23.95/month and would show up on our existing gas bill. I laughed at the thought that someone is wasting their time coming to our door with something like this.

Read The Contract

Here’s why you might consider NOT signing up for a door-knocker’s deal. At $23.95/month (a 15 year contract BTW), you will have paid $4,311.00. But the contract stated they could increase the monthly charge by no more than 3.5% per year (which means no LESS than 3.5% per year either). With the yearly increases you are now locked into paying $5,545.58. The cost of a new tank (in this case a 50 gallon tank) outright is about $600, and maybe $300 to install. Your break-even point is just over three years. In other words – it’s a sucker’s deal.

Then I found out my girlfriend signed up for it.

My jaw nearly dropped to the floor. Luckily the National Home Services van was outside – this was the van belonging to the door knockers. Unlucky for them someone had just hacked my blog so I was less than cordial. I told them that I wanted to cancel the contract immediately and exercise our right to cancel without reason within 10 days. She said she couldn’t help us, we would have to call the customer care line to cancel. We did. We were put on hold and then the phone started ringing, but only to lead to an “out of service” recording. WTF???

I started taking pictures. And here they are.

They asked me why I wanted to cancel and I replied “I can do math”. They decided to high tail it out of there because they had an appointment to go to. BTW, it’s not an appointment when the person you’re going to see isn’t expecting you!

We called the number again, and this time we got through to someone. Don’t know why the line was out of service when we called the first time. They were able to process our cancellation request, but we will have to watch the gas bill to see if a rental charge from National Home Services shows up.

What’s The Lesson?

If my own girlfriend can sign up for this deal, I’ve clearly not done my job in informing her about what I and regular readers of this blog might know to be a simple truth. Never do business on the spot, and not at your front door. If you think you might actually be interested in anything that is being offered at your door, ask for a leave behind brochure so you can look it over.

Now do everyone a favour and retweet this, or send the link around. Save some other poor souls!!!

Preet Banerjee
Preet Banerjee
...is an independent consultant to the financial services industry and a personal finance commentator. You can learn more about Preet at his personal website and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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Showing 11 comments
  • Four Pillars

    You need to make her read this post 100 times!

  • Michael James

    Your title is great advice. Even if this happened to be a great deal, it would still be a great deal tomorrow or the next day. It doesn’t make sense to sign a contract immediately.

  • Brian

    Holy cow! What a scam. Do they do business nationally?

    This reminds me of the scams going on with natural gas rate contacts from heating companies. Thanks for the head’s up Preet.

  • Brian C

    So true…I was pitched by the sales person thinking they were upgrading on behalf of Enbridge. After singing up, I went online to check it out and lo and behold I realized I got suckered by Direct Energy’s competitor. Cancelled right away…but had that sheepish feeling for a little while!

  • Mr. Cheap

    Crazy. Did she say why she thought it was a good deal to sign up?

    Good job chasing them out of your neighbourhood! :-)

  • ink-stained gorilla

    Preet’s key point. Don’t do business at the door and in most cases, don’t do business on solicited phone calls.

    Senior Citizens in particular need to have these rules hammered in them, since they grew up in a culture where solicited door-to-door business was perfectly acceptable.

    I’ve found most of those rules work in avoiding 95% of these pseudo-scams/money wasters. That said, got caught by an early morning call from TD Visa and unwittingly signed up for creditor insurance.

  • Returns Reaper

    These “National Home Services” guys came around my place in Ottawa too. I remember googling them and I think they belong to the same parent company as Universal Energy. I asked them to leave behind information so I could look it over and the information they did leave behind was just a glossy ad, with very few details.

  • angelabensmail

    i liked the info on not signing contracts at ur front door. was she stupid or something, sorry just sayin. but , nice to know there are people out there to get you even though they may look professional.

  • DA

    these guys were around to our house in Peterborough, door knockers get my wife really peed off and she told him so.

pingbacks / trackbacks
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