Written by Consumer Protection BC’s enforcement department
It’s a beautiful day so you decide to go outside and clean up your front yard. A salesperson approaches you and says they were in the area repairing your neighbour’s roof. The salesperson tells you they noticed your roof appears to be damaged, and in need of urgent repairs. Since they are already in the area, they are willing to offer you a “neighbour discount”; but since they are very busy, you have to give them a $3,000 deposit to hold the job. Yikes! You’re really concerned about your roof leaking but you aren’t sure what to do.
What would you do?
(a) Rush inside to get your cheque book and write a cheque to the salesperson for $3,000. Whew! You are glad you were outside when the salesperson drove by!
(b) Tell the salesperson that you aren’t interested. You go inside and call two roofing companies and ask them to inspect your roof, and provide written estimates.
(c) Ask the salesperson for the name of the neighbour whose roof was just repaired because you’d like to look at their completed work, and get a reference.
(b) and (c). There is nothing wrong with getting a business card and telling the salesperson that you will get back to them. If the deal is great today – it will still be great tomorrow. Always do your homework before signing a contract or paying a deposit. Ask for customer references, and if possible, go look at the work they’ve done. Before you enter into an agreement, ask other companies to provide you with written estimates.
And ALWAYS get a written contract! It’s important that you read the contract (including the fine print) and know about your right to cancel. Since the salesperson approached you at your house, the contract is a direct sales contract, and, by law, is subject to certain requirements, which includes how much a business can ask for a deposit/down payment. A business cannot ask you to pay a deposit that is more than $100. Also, because the work is not being done right away, the contract is also a future performance contract.
Consumer Protection BC is responsible for regulating specific parts of both direct sales contracts and future performance contracts in BC – including consumer cancellation rights and what information must be in the contract.
We hope this blog post can assist you in making an informed decision. For more information about your rights and responsibilities when it comes to contracts, please explore our blog posts with direct sales contracts tag.