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Oshawa joins voices calling for ban on door-to-door sales

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa city council has joined with those looking to close the door for good on aggressive door-to-door sales.

In endorsing a motion from the City of Markham, councillors have stood behind the idea that, to date, efforts by the province to stop these aggressive sales tactics have failed, and that an outright ban should be put in place to protect vulnerable people, specifically seniors and those with English as a second language.

The motion specifically mentions sales relating to the “home services sector” – or more specifically, HVAC equipment, water heaters, water filtration systems and “other related home energy products and services.”

Despite the Stronger Protection for Consumers Act addressing door-to-door sales last year and an outright ban on sales of electricity and natural gas contracts, these types of pushy sales tactics are still going on, especially with seniors, councillors say.

“I’ve got calls from sons and daughters trying to get out of these contracts,” says Councillor John Neal who brought forward the motion. “I’m glad to see there’s finally something with teeth that’s going to be done.”

The Stop the Knocks campaign has garnered nearly 1,000 signatures in an online petition to stop sales people from pushing products and forcing their way into people’s homes under the guise of checking a water heater or filtration system.

“When you’re a senior and somebody comes there with a badge, they feel threatened right away,” said Councillor Doug Sanders.

The proposed ban has already got the attention of Queen’s Park following the first reading of a bill brought forward by Etobicoke Centre MPP Yvan Baker. The legislation, which will see a second reading this month, notes that while stopping sales people from knocking on doors is impossible, any contracts signed dealing with items listed in the legislation would be considered void and any money paid returned to the signee.

The campaign has also seen support from Mississauga, Markham, Hamilton and Niagara.

However, Councillor Rick Kerr, the lone councillor to vote against the endorsement, felt it could be taking things too far.

“I think there’s such a thing as overlegislation,” he says. “I think buyer beware…where do we draw the line?”

Kerr noted that a ban could be considered a restriction on free enterprise, and noted the motion needed to be more specific as to not impact harmless sales practices used by community groups such as Girl Guides selling cookies.