Peel – Every year, the Peel Regional Police receives numerous complaints from the public about snow removal companies who violate contracts. Questionable business practices on the part of some of these companies may not make their actions criminal. In some cases, customers may be misled on terms and conditions and/or contracts may be left unfulfilled. However, depending on the circumstances, the police may have a very limited ability to intervene and assist in these civil disputes.
A valuable resource for consumers is the Consumer Protection Branch (CPB) of the Ministry of Consumer Services, which investigates complaints under the Consumer Protection Act and other consumer laws. CPB staff helps consumers understand their rights and responsibilities, assist in complaint mediation, and take enforcement action.
All of us have rights under the Consumer Protection Act, including full disclosure of costs, terms of credit, and conditions of service.
If you are planning on hiring a service company, keep these tips in mind:
- Beware of a cheap cash deal. Cheaper is not necessarily better. A reputable company may charge more, but you will have peace of mind and quality of work.
- Use a company referred to you by a family member or friend that have used the company in the past.
- Be wary of door to door sales.
- You have the right to cancel contracts, signed or concluded at your home, at any time within 10 days after receiving a written copy of the contract – no reason required.
- You have the right to cancel an agreement, if work has not begun, within 30 days of the start date specified in the agreement.
- Get estimates in writing. You cannot be charged more than 10% above the estimate in the agreement you signed.
- Don’t sign a contract or pay money on the spot. TAKE YOUR TIME. If the sales person is threatening that the deal is for today only, don’t sign.
- Research the company and ask for references.
- Don’t do business with a company that won’t provide its name, street address and telephone number.
For more information about the Ministry of Consumer Services, and your rights under the Consumer Protection Act, visit: www.ontario.ca/consumerprotection, phone 1-877-665-0662, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consumers who feel that they have been the victim of a criminal act should contact the Fraud Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 3335, to speak with an investigator who can advise them on whether the complaint is criminal in nature.