The Case of the Sneaky Serviceman
Fraud Prevention Month Case #4:
Melissa and Ryan recently bought their first home together. The house was a fixer-upper but it had a lovely garden and a big front lawn. Ryan had recently purchased some new gardening supplies and Melissa was eager to start tidying the yard. As the couple cheerfully got their tools outside to start, they saw a big white “Weed-Pros” van parked outside their home. A man in a coverall uniform smiled and as he approached Ryan and handed him a bill. The man explained that he was providing weed spraying services in the neighbourhood and sprayed their lawn as well. Ryan told the man he never requested this service and would not pay the bill. As the serviceman walked back towards his van, he told Ryan that if he didn’t pay, the bill would be sent to a collections agency.
Ryan and Melissa were concerned. They acknowledged that services were in fact provided, but Ryan certainly did not feel they were responsible for the bill. Nonetheless, Melissa was worried that by ignoring the bill, it would go to a collections agency and potentially affect their credit rating. Ryan was torn. He had plans to buy a pick-up truck to use during the home renovations and knew that a negative item on his credit report could really get in the way of getting his getting a loan, but he felt that what was happening to them was very unfair.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Often people are provided with goods or services they never requested. This happens most often with services such as weed spraying, chimney sweeping, or blowing water out of underground sprinklers before the weather gets cold. Those who are providing the services are hoping that you will pay for the services provided without caring that they were never requested. Under the Business Practice and Consumer Protection Act, the serviceman in Ryan and Melissa’s case may have been providing unsolicited goods and services. According to BC’s consumer protection law, a consumer has no legal obligation in respect to unsolicited goods or services. There may be something you can do if you have already paid for an unsolicited item. Contact Consumer Protection BC to find out the details.
TIP: You are not legally obligated to pay for unsolicited goods or services.
March is Fraud Prevention Month - know your rights! If you have questions about your rights and responsibilities as a consumer in British Columbia, please contact Consumer Protection BC toll free at 1-888-564-9963 or email us at
The “What Would You Do?” columns are presented by Consumer Protection BC to raise consumer awareness during Fraud Prevention Month.
Visit Consumer Protection BC at the 2010 Smart Shoppers event on March 27, 2010 at Metrotown Mall in Burnaby, hosted by the Better Business Bureau.
Take the Competition Bureau's Fraud Quiz.