Don’t get burned by fraud, BBB warns

Fall is the ideal time of year to have your furnace serviced — before the busy winter season starts.

  • Sep. 13, 2012 6:00 a.m.

Fall is the ideal time of year to have your furnace serviced — before the busy winter season starts. Better Business Bureau warns the public to be cautious about misleading door-to-door heating contractors who may use misleading sales tactics to convince homeowners to buy a new furnace or hot water tanks.

In one recent scenario a consumer was sold a hot water tank by a company who stated it was a 2011 model when in reality the tank was from 2003. Reports are this same contractor is operating around British Columbia and does not have proper safety licensing and is having consumer issue cheques with no company contact information for payments.

In the past the BBB has received reports of con artists who tried to frighten consumers into purchasing a new heating with warnings that their heating system is leaking dangerous gases that could explode or poison those inside the house.

Before you choose a heating contractor consider the following tips:

Start with the BBB. You can find out helpful information like, owners, company addresses, and customer service information by visiting the company’s Business Review at: www.mbc.bbb.org.

Hire heating contractors who:

• Are licenced with the BC Safety Authority; call 1-866-566-SAFE (7233)

• Are or employ certified gas fitters

• Are bonded and insured for liability and property damage

• Can provide you a copy of the gas permit authorizing the company to work on your heating system

• Offer warranties that cover equipment, materials and labour

• Offer maintenance and service after installation and after warranties have expired

• Provide customer references

Get at least two estimates for the work. All bids should be in writing and should provide a full description of the services to be provided and the materials to be used.

Compare more that just cost. Check the size and rated efficiency of the equipment each contractor recommends. Ask each contractor how they arrived at recommending a particular sized system. Check the warranty offered and make certain you understand it.

Inspections every year are recommended but not mandatory. The BC Safety Authority states that it is recommended and not mandatory for a consumer to have their heating system inspected yearly. Be wary of any company that states it is call from your municipality, or stating that it is required by law to have an inspection.

Know your rights and read your contract carefully. Consumer Protection BC regulates door-to-door sales contracts. Consumers should know that they have 10 days to cancel these types of contracts and that there are limits to the deposit required.  For more information, contact the Consumer Protection BC at 1-888-564-9963 or go to: www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.

If you smell gas and suspect that you have a leak, leave. Contact Fortis BC at 1-800-663-9911 and leave the building, keeping the door open and any windows that may already be open.

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