Predatory Door-to-Door Sales and Vulnerable People
All too often we hear stories of older persons suffering from cognitive decline who have unwittingly entered into long-term and disadvantageous contracts for services or equipment they do not even need. Sometimes, despite the best efforts of friends and family, loved ones with conditions such as dementia cannot be completely shielded from aggressive sales tactics that prey on vulnerability. This scenario has arisen repeatedly in the case of door-to-door sales and Councillors in several Ontario cities have set out to put a stop to it.
On Monday, Etobicoke Centre MPP Yvan Baker introduced a private member’s bill, the Door-to- Door Sales Prohibition Act, 2016, which seeks to ban door-to-door sales of water heaters, furnaces, water treatment devices, and the leasing or rental of air conditioners. These four products were selected as they have the highest number of complaints from consumers and have cost Ontarians over $3.1 million in 2015 alone. However, these numbers are based only on consumers who have made a report to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and therefore may, in fact, be much higher. The bill would also allow the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to add additional products to the list as required. In large part, the motivation behind this bill has been to protect vulnerable people, particularly those with health issues, from being duped into contracts with no way out.
The bill itself would not lead to an outright prohibition on knocking on someone’s door for sales purposes; however, it would ensure that any contract executed as a result of
a door-to-door sale of any of the products listed, would be void. Furthermore, the bill contemplates implementing fines to be levied against both individual and commercial sellers in increasing amounts per offence. In this sense, the bill would act as a deterrent to salespersons engaging in these sorts of unscrupulous practices.
The bill still has a long way to go before it becomes law. It still must go to a second reading in June and if it passes, then to committee. From there, it would return back to the legislature for third reading.
Thank you for reading.