HRAI Response to the January 14, 2022 CBC Marketplace Investigation
In its January 14th, 2022, episode, CBC Marketplace reported on an investigation called “caught on camera: HVAC scam in action.” Their hidden cameras exposed an unethical sales call in action.
HRAI does not support the use of high pressure or deceptive sales tactics when dealing with homeowners but there are a couple of inferences from this investigation that we would like to touch on. While the investigation exposed a genuine problem, it may have created an impression for viewers or readers that all HVAC contractors operate in such a questionable manner. In reality, most function very effectively and professionally in meeting the needs of their customers at a fair price. In fact most HVAC replacements are done when the product fails, not through unsolicited sales techniques.
We are disappointed that CBC ran this story without reaching out to HRAI to better understand how the HVAC marketplace functions.
Some of the statements about pricing might be a bit misleading. A two-stage 96% high efficiency furnace, installed by a qualified HVAC technician employed by a registered Canadian corporation would be priced in the $5,000-$7,000 range, not $2,700 as reported. It’s also important to note that the install price most often includes extras like the removal of the existing equipment, extended warranty coverage, new condensate pump, IAQ additions, etc.
Rental options for HVAC equipment is quite common. In fact rental options for many higher priced items in Canada are widely available. Some furniture stores and appliance outlets have rental and extended warranty programs. They have them because this option is attractive for some customers. Rental programs also often include additional services such as an annual service call, new filters and complete parts and service warranty for the life of the agreement. In the case of the $6k furnace, if purchased on a rental program with an extended warranty, the cost can easily exceed $10k over the life of the contract. The CBC investigation made it appear as though this type of pricing was extraordinary or unusual. Rental programs with extended warranty options can be expensive and consumers should investigate the total cost of ownership for any purchase. Financing options are not unique to HVAC, this purchase choice has been available in Canada for decades.
We should touch on the issue of door to door sales. HRAI, along with other industry leaders, has worked diligently with Government over the past decade to refine consumer protection legislation and significant improvements have been made to protect consumers. While more can always be done, it is also important that consumers understand their rights. A good start is to read up on your current rights at https://www.ontario.ca/page/door-door-sales-and-home-service-contracts
The Consumer Protection Act gives you rights when you buy anything from a salesperson either at your door or in your home that costs more than $50.
As a consumer, you:
- have the right to cancel a contract without any reason within a 10-day cooling-off period, beginning the day you receive a written copy of the agreement.
- must be given a written contract: under the CPA, a consumer contract has to include specific information about the goods or service and your rights as a consumer. If it doesn’t, you can cancel the contract within 1 year of entering into the agreement.
- can cancel the agreement, regardless of its value, up to one year after you entered into it if the business or salesperson you’ve signed your contract with made a false or misleading statement about the contract.
For consumers wanting to find an HVAC contractor, HRAI offers an online contractor locator service where you can find qualified contractors near you based on your postal code.
All HRAI members go through a due diligence progress to qualify and maintain their membership and to back that up, HRAI has a consumer complaint process. The firm featured in the CBC investigation is not an HRAI member.
HRAI supports the need for further consumer education on their rights. But is also true that most firms in Canada operate legitimately. The small minority who use predatory business practices should not cast the entire industry in a poor light.
HRAI encourages homeowners and business owners to do their due diligence when hiring an HVAC contractor. Tips for consumers on best practices of hiring a qualified contractor can be found on HRAI’s site.
Go to HRAI.ca for more information on consumer tips or to find a qualified check out www.HRAI.ca/contractor-locator.
HRAI, (Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada) is a non-profit national trade association that represents more than 1,150 member companies in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) industry. Our members include manufacturers, wholesalers and contractors who employ more than 50,000 people in Canada and represent an industry that delivers more than $12B annually to the Canadian economy.
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