Door-to-door sales and home service contracts
Know your rights when you sign a contract at your door. Learn about avoiding common door-to-door scams for water heaters, home heating, and other services.
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If you received a phone call, email or text message claiming to be from Consumer Protection Ontario offering to help cancel a contract you signed with a business:
- Do not give out any personal information over the telephone, click on any email links or open any messages. Consumer Protection Ontario will respond to your complaints but will not reach out to you directly first. You may be the target of a phishing scam*
- Call Consumer Protection Ontario at
1-800-889-9768to inform us
- Call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre at
1-888-495-8501to report the fraudulent phone call, email or text message
*A phishing scam is an attempt to deceive you (usually by email) into giving sensitive information to someone posing as an individual or company that you know (e.g. your bank, e-store account).
Your rights when you sign a contract in your home
The Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (CPA) gives you rights when you buy something from a salesperson either at your door or in your home that costs more than $50.
As a consumer, you:
- have the right to cancel a contract without any reason within a 10-day cooling-off period, beginning the day you receive a written copy of the agreement.
- must be given a written contract: under the CPA, a consumer contract has to include specific information about the goods or service and your rights as a consumer. If it doesn’t, you can cancel the contract within 1 year of entering into the agreement.
- can cancel the agreement, regardless of its value, up to one year after you entered into it if the business or salesperson you’ve signed your contract with made a false or misleading statement about the contract.
Cancel a contract under the Consumer Protection Act
New rules mean some products and services cannot be sold door-to-door
Certain products and services can no longer be offered or sold at your home unless you initiate the transaction (for example, by calling or emailing a business and asking them to come to your home for the purpose of entering into a contract.) There are some exceptions including instances where you already have a contract in place.
These restricted products and services include:
- air conditioners
- air cleaners
- air purifiers
- water heaters
- water treatment devices
- water purifiers
- water filters
- water softeners
- duct cleaning services
- any good or service that performs or combines one or more of the above functions
Businesses will be able to enter into a contract at your home if you contacted them ahead of time and invited them to your home for the purpose of buying or leasing one of the restricted products and services.
If you call for a repair, maintenance, an energy assessment, or any reason other than entering into a contract for one of these items and the business comes to your home, the business cannot enter into a new contract with you. They will only be able to leave information about the products and services they offer.
Products and services not listed on this page can still be sold door-to-door but businesses must still follow other requirements under the Consumer Protection Act.
Exceptions if you already have a contract
If you already have a written and effective contract in place with a business, they can still contact you by phone, schedule a visit to your home for any reason you request, including repairs and maintenance, and enter into a new contract. However, the business must tell you if they plan to offer you one of the restricted products and services before visiting your home and you would have to agree to hear their offer before they can do so.
After you enter into a contract
Once you have a written copy of the contract, you still have a 10-day cooling-off period to cancel a contract, for the restricted products or services, for any reason.
If you don’t receive a written contract, or the contract you receive doesn’t include required information about the products or services, you can cancel the contract within one year from the day you entered into it. You can also cancel the agreement within one year if the business who you’ve signed your contract with has made a false or misleading statement about the contract.
If you sign a contract for a restricted product and service as a result of restricted door-to-door marketing or due to misleading marketing materials left at your home, the contract will be considered void and you can keep the goods or services without obligation.
If the contract is void and you are charged penalties or fees from third parties (for example, for removing the product) the business is required to reimburse you for those charges.
Requirements for businesses
All businesses providing restricted products and services are required to:
- maintain records for three years of how contact was made with consumers in restricted contracts
- add a mandatory cover page informing consumers of their rights
- make sure any marketing materials that are left at your home do not contain misleading information
The mandatory cover page must include the name of the company you are dealing with and must be attached to the contract before you sign it. Once you agree to a contract, you must sign both the contract and the attached cover page.
As of May 1, 2018, businesses must also make sure language in contracts identifies overall costs and any cancellation fees.
Learn more about the new rules and what your business needs to do to comply.
Before you hear a sales pitch
When you open your door to a salesperson, remember:
- certain products and services can’t be sold or marketed door-to-door
- ask for photo ID and get the name of the person and the business
- never share personal information (e.g, an electricity or gas bill)
- if you ask a salesperson to leave, they must leave right away. If you feel unsafe, call local police
- look at the company name on the salesperson’s business card and promotional material and see if it matches the company name on the proposed contract
- do not rely on a salesperson’s opinion that your water heater is unsafe or should be replaced
- local utility companies, municipalities, government agencies or regulatory organizations don’t send salespeople door-to-door
- you do not have to sign a contract on the spot
Before you sign
Read a contract carefully and know your rights under the Consumer Protection Act, 2002.
Questions to ask
Ask these questions before you sign any contract and get the answers in writing.
- How long is the contract for?
- Will the business automatically renew your contract without your consent? For example, does it say “without your prior consent”?
- When and how can you get out of the contract?
- Are there any fees for removing your existing equipment, installing new equipment, or other added costs?
- If you have an existing product with a current supplier, are you eligible for an upgrade?
- Will you be responsible for transferring the contract or paying cancellation fees if you decide to sell your home?
- What kind of warranty does the business offer?
- What are the consequences if you cancel the contract?
- Will the company register a security interest (commonly known as a lien)? This could have legal or financial consequences if you decide to cancel the contract early, apply for financing or sell your home. In these cases, you should also seek the advice of a lawyer.
Costs you may still have to pay
Be sure before you sign. If your contract has a 10-day cooling-off period, you may still have to pay some costs if you solicited the product from the business and requested that the equipment be installed in your home before the 10 days are over. These costs may include:
- any rental payments, which are still due if you cancel
- any expenses the rental company must pay to remove the product or service
- charges for unreasonable or excessive wear or use of the product or service
Three tips to keep in mind
- Remember that if you sign a new contract for a product or service, such as a water heater rental, you will have to end your existing contract with your current supplier. There may be fees for ending your current contract and having your existing product or service removed.
- You may be eligible for an upgrade from your current supplier. Call them and check your options before upgrading with a new supplier.
- When you buy a home, you may be taking on the responsibility for an existing appliance contract that comes with the home. Ask your real estate agent or your lawyer.
File a complaint
If you think a business has broken the law, you can file a complaint about a contract signed in your home.
Home energy contracts
You do not have to sign a home energy contract. However, you should know who supplies your electricity or natural gas and how much energy you use every month.
The Energy Consumer Protection Act protects consumers from unfair or misleading energy companies.
Companies that sell energy contracts must be licenced by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) and must obey Ontario’s laws and rules.
The OEB also has information on:
- what to consider before signing an energy contract
- your rights and responsibilities
- the rules around how energy contracts can be renewed
Read about energy contracts from the OEB.
Contact the OEB if you have a complaint about a home energy company.
If you have questions or concerns about any door-to-door experiences, call Consumer Protection Ontario from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00p.m.at:
1-800-889-9768(toll free) 416-326-8800(Toronto area)
1-877-666-6545(toll free) 416-229-6086(Toronto area)