We don’t like to generalize here at Absolute Draining & Plumbing, but door-to-door salesman can be a problem for homeowners. Some of these salesman rely on high pressure sales tactics, misinformation, and exploiting of recent events to coerce people into buying things they do not need. Today, we want to warn people about one particular door-to-door sales scheme that’s been costing people a lot of unnecessary money: hot water tank rentals. These salesman offer hard to imagine pricing on an expensive item, a hot water tank, by renting instead of buying outright. The idea is good for some people who need a new tank now and can’t afford one, but the door-to-door sales route is harming consumers.

How It Happens

Here’s how they do it: A salesman shows up at your door offering water tank inspections. They get into your home to look at the tank and deem it unfit for further use. The “inspector” then offer an alternative to out-and-out replacing your tank with a rental agreement using high pressure tactics to convince people they need a new tank. Then, once the deal is made, the company starts charging hidden fees while steadily increasing the rental price, sometimes by as much as double, leaving homeowners with mounting bills they cannot pay. The tactic works surprisingly well. One company blamed for this sales strategy is currently being purchased by a competitor for over $500 million.

Thankfully, a recent article in the Toronto Star brought door-to-door hot water tank rental salesman into the limelight. One such company was revealed to target seniors specifically. In some instances, the prices doubled inside two months without reason, and senior citizens on fixed incomes were seeing their already small incomes drained by unfair business practices. Other homeowners are reporting inheriting water tank rental agreements from previous tenants without their knowledge, or being responsible for money owed by their landlords after they’ve moved away. All of these are instances of fine print contracts that people do not realize they are agreeing to. After all, who has time to read the contract when a salesman is breathing down your neck?

Regulations Are Difficult To Enforce

The fact of the matter is that door-to-door sales is hard to regulate and control, even with the Government posting consumer alerts. The services and items provided often operate outside the usual means, which gives particularly dubious and greedy salespeople an opportunity to pressure people into unnecessary purchases. These salesmen often come during the day as well, so anyone at home doesn’t have their partner around to discuss the matter. These salespeople rely on two factors for their sales: fear and isolation.

Always Do Your Research

But there are some things you can do to avoid these salespeople. As with any big purchase, it’s important to research what you’re buying before agreeing to anything. Always discuss the matter with other people in your household and never sign anything without doing your own due diligence. If anything seems fishy, or the salesman is especially eager to push for a sale on the spot, ask them to leave and shut the door. It’s not rude, it’s saving yourself time and peace-of-mind down the road. Especially with hot water tanks, always consult a professional first to see if you need to replace your tank.

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