Consumer Protection Act charges against Ontario Energy Group dropped
Province says 'it was in the public interest' to withdraw all 142 charges against OEG and its director
An HVAC business slapped with 142 counts of violating the Consumer Protection Act last year has seen all of those charges withdrawn after it reached an agreement that it will settle each of the complaints.
Those charges against Ontario Energy Group, which sells furnaces, water heaters and air-conditioning units, had included counts of using false, misleading or deceptive practices, failure to deliver a valid contract and failure to issue a refund.
And for one of the customers who filed a complaint, said the deal isn't enough.
"The government was supposed to take care of it. So this is the way they take care of the people?" Desmond Greaves asked. "If this is the way, it's a sellout."
Greaves, 84, told CBC Toronto in April 2016 that OEG representatives came to his door two years earlier, promising him a lower rate on gas if he bought a new furnace from the company.
But he said his energy bills never dropped.
He asked OEG to return his initial furnace — then only two years old and for which he'd paid $6,200 — but a representative told him it was gone, Greaves alleged.
I'm still end up a loser because I lost my equipment and I lost my money.- Desmond Greaves, OEG customer
On top of that, the Etobicoke man said he had to pay a contractor $3,000 because the OEG unit was not installed according to code.
Then Greaves found out there was a security interest, commonly known as a lien, on the furnace. If he ever wanted to sell his Etobicoke home, he would have to pay off that lien himself.
Greaves received a settlement letter from OEG's lawyer last week, saying if he agreed to drop all his complaints against the company, it would transfer the ownership of the furnace to him. It also promised that OEG would maintain the boiler for 10 years from the date of installation, and it would lift the lien on the unit.
Why the charges were dropped
But the ministry and the Crown decided the best outcome would be to have OEG work directly with the 20 complainants that formed the basis of the charges before the court, a ministry spokesperson said.
"The ministry established that the Ontario Energy Group will be addressing the complaints directly with the consumers by way of settlement and compensation," said ministry spokesperson Sue Carroll. "This is a positive outcome for the consumers involved."
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Greaves is considering filing a small claims case against OEG to collect the thousands of dollars he's paid out, but if he signs the settlement, that avenue will be closed to him.
"I'm still end up a loser because I lost my equipment and I lost my money," he said.
Since 2009, there have been more than 230 complaints from consumers regarding OEG's sales tactics and its failure to adhere to requirements under the Consumer Protection Act, said the ministry.
"OEG is committed to ensuring customer satisfaction and investigating and dealing fairly with any consumer complaints," said Henein Hutchison LLP, the law firm representing OEG in a statement.
The province also issued an immediate compliance order to OEG and its director last April, which requires them to comply with the Consumer Protection Act and "refrain from certain alleged activities that have resulted in consumer complaints across the province."
OEG is appealing that order.