As winter approaches, the City of Ottawa would like to remind residents that while many people who come to your door offering snow removal services are legitimate, you should always be diligent before making a purchase.
Before you hear a sales pitch at your door, remember:
- Always ask a salesperson to identify themselves by showing you company issued identification or some other form of photo identification. Make note of their name and the business they represent.
- Never share personal information (for example, a utility bill).
- Never leave the salesperson unattended in any room of your home. If you feel threatened or intimidated, ask them to leave. If they refuse, call the police.
- Local utility companies, the City of Ottawa and government agencies don’t send salespeople door-to-door.
Always know who you’re doing business with.
- Be wary of high pressure sales tactics and “limited time only” signing incentives. A good company will be willing to give you time to make up your mind.
- Go online and look for customer reviews. A reputable company will be registered with the Better Business Bureau and be able to give you strong references.
Know the terms of the contract before you sign.
- Always make sure you get a detailed contract in writing. Read it carefully before signing anything. Scrutinize the fine print and know your cancellation rights.
- Make sure the company name on promotional material matches the company name on the contract.
- Be suspicious if the company requires payment in full before the work is started. A staggered payment model using post-dated cheques, for example, is considered an industry best practice.
- Request a copy of the contract and keep it for your records.
Having second thoughts? Know your rights.
- The Ontario Consumer Protection Act gives you special rights when you buy something in your home. For example, you have 10 days to cancel a contract for whatever reason. For more information about your rights, visit the Ministry of Consumer Services website or contact the ministry directly at 1-800-889-9768.
Be Aware of Snow Removal Scams
In these scams, a con artist will take payment for a whole season of snow removal and then never return. To avoid being scammed:
- Never pay for a whole season of snow removal unless you have a good relationship with a reputable company. If you are required to make a deposit, keep it low and make staggered payments over the term of the contract.
- Ask to see proof that the company has an active Snow Plow Contractor business license issued by the City of Ottawa. A listing of licensed snow plow contractors is available.
- Check the reputation of the company with your neighbours and go online for customer reviews and ratings. Ask if the company is registered with the Better Business Bureau and able to give you references from local clients.
All snow plow contractors licensed by the City of Ottawa are required to:
- Have an active City of Ottawa Business License.
- Have a City of Ottawa snow plow numbered plate prominently affixed to every snow plow vehicle.
- Have a sign showing the name and telephone number of the business on both sides of every snow plow vehicle.
- Ensure that snow removal vehicles do not throw, push, dump or otherwise deposit snow or ice on a street.
- Keep a record of all contracts with the entries transcribed in ink in a clear and legible manner, or in a recording system.
Failure to comply with these requirements may constitute a violation. If you suspect a snow removal contractor does not have a City of Ottawa License, or has failed to comply with the abovementioned requirements, please call 3-1-1.