Edmonton

Edmonton woman raises alarm about possible loophole to ban on door-to-door sales

An Edmonton woman is questioning whether one sales company may have found a loophole around Alberta’s new ban on door-to-door sales.

Offer by one company of a household visit to clear the way for a ‘rebate’ triggered suspicions

The province banned door-to-door sales of energy products as of Jan. 1. but, according to the province, some suppliers are still breaking the rules. (Ken Tannenbaum/Shuttershock)

An Edmonton woman is questioning whether one sales company may have found a loophole around Alberta's new ban on door-to-door sales.

On Thursday afternoon Janet Bossert, 70, received a call from a representative from Eco Global, a company which upgrades residential furnaces, air conditioners, tankless water heaters and water filtration systems.

"He said he saw I hadn't received a rebate which I should have received from having an outside meter installed on my house a couple of years ago," said Bossert.

"They needed to come by, check the equipment, make sure everything was fine and they had agents in the area right now."

All she needed to do was give them the OK to come to her door.

But Bossert said she has never dealt with Eco Global. It was Epcor that installed her water meter.

I think they're going to try to sign you up for something.- Janet Bossert

Suspicious about the rebate offer, she told the Eco Global representative she'd call back and hung up. She immediately called Epcor to ask about the rebate.

She was told by an Epcor representative that the company was not aware of any rebate, and that the phone call had nothing to do with Epcor. An Epcor spokesperson confirmed they have received other calls from customers inquiring about similar tactics.

Was rebate offer an attempt to skirt law?

Bossert said it appears the rebate mentioned in the phone call from the Eco Global representative was merely an attempt to get someone to her door legally.

"I think they're going to try to sign you up for something, just like all the people who have been coming to your door asking you to review your utility bills," she said. "And then, of course, all they have to do is say we can beat that."

Eco Global did not respond to several requests for comment over a period of days.

As of Jan. 1, Service Alberta has outlawed door-to-door sales of furnaces, natural gas and electricity contracts, water heaters, windows, air conditioners or energy audits.

Someone contravening the law could face a charge under the Fair Trading Act, which carries a maximum penalty of $300,000 in fines plus two years of jail time.

Energy companies are still able to sell products online, by telephone, at kiosks or through traditional advertising,

A Service Alberta spokesperson said if a homeowner gets a call from a company and consents to a visit from a representative, then that is legal.

But she added that if some companies try to get into homes under false pretences, that could trigger an investigation to determine if any action is taken.

@Travismcewancbc

Travis.mcewan@cbc.ca