Open letter to Ontario Energy Group senior management re door to door sales pitch

Ontario Energy Group LogoTo the Senior Management of Ontario Energy Group (OEG).

On July 22nd, I received a visit from a member of your sales team. The young representative did not present himself directly as a sales agent, but rather a quality assurance inspector looking to verify my HVAC equipment as in-line with the 2009 Ontario Energy Board regulations. He explained that OEG was an affiliate service provider to Enbridge — providing checks on equipment. He asked if I’ve seen the notice in the mail regarding the changes by OEB (while presenting a sample of the notice to me). I indicated I had not. He then asked if I was aware of the provincial rebate program that’s in place for those needing… I stopped him at this point and asked what he was looking to provide me (I wanted to know if this was another water-tank sales company — 14 in the past 5 years). He quickly dismissed any complexity to his visit stating he was only checking if my AC unit was compliant. He presented a yellow Energuide label from a binder showing the specs he was looking to verify. He explained that the refrigerant in my AC may not be compliant, and that in 2015 (next year) someone will come by to check if my AC unit was compliant. If it’s found not to be in-line with the Ontario Energy Board regulations of 2009, a red tag will be placed on my equipment.

This OEG representative asked to see my furnace and the AC unit. With my curiosity to his claims peaked, I told him the condenser was at the side of the house. Shaking his head, he reaffirmed his need to see the AC unit. Surprised of his extensive “knowledge” of OEB regulations, I pointed to the condenser and offered “same thing” in reply. He verified R22 was in use. He explained that due to changes in regulation, this “harmful gas” needs to be changed to R410A (Puron). He also pointed out that if I have black (ABS) piping on my furnace that it will need to be changed to white (PVC) piping. When I asked why, he explained that ABS is prone to leaks — and that’s why people have CO2 detectors in their homes. He then asked if I have carbon monoxide detectors in my home, I said yes. He then reaffirmed this is why CO2 detectors are needed — for faulty ABS piping. He then explained that everyone’s ABS piping will be changed to PVC. His implication was very strong — that no choice was given and that everyone will have to do it. So I questioned him directly asking “So everyone in Ontario will have their ABS piping changed to PVC?” To this he said yes. The implication was such that PVC was as bad a asbestos, requiring immediate removal. Suspicious by the young mans claims, I asked for his card. He said he didn’t have one. He gestured to another person on the street saying “He’s my boss, you can ask him”. I met his boss (looking no more than a year or two older) and asked if he had a card. He said he had just one left, and pulled it out from the clear plastic sleeve attached to his shirt and presented it to me. It became clear this card wasn’t meant to be handed out, as it was plastic with round corners, but it did have his contact info.

The “boss” confirmed the claims of his subordinate that the ABS piping must be removed, and that my AC unit should be using R410A. Looking at the two of them I asked “Let me get this straight, I suppose Enbridge would love to provide me with new HVAC equipment compliant with the 2009 Ontario Energy Board regulations?” I asked so quickly that the two topics in a single fast question didn’t stick — the boss shook his head saying “Sorry, I didn’t understand what you said”. So I asked the same question slower. In response, he said, sure, anyone can offer compliant equipment and still receive the provincial rebate. I then proposed in a careless voice that Enbridge would love to rent me a furnace, water tank, and AC unit right? They casually nodded in agreement, and pointed out that a new furnace can be very expensive — something around $4500, but rental of a furnace would cost only $69.99/month — and that every 6 months someone would come by to make sure everything was working perfect. I would also receive support 24/7 if anything needed looking after. In response I asked, $70/month? that’s over $800 a year. To which he corrected me in saying $840. It would show up on my Enbridge bill every month. So I asked the boss: Do you know how much my 2007 high efficiency furnace cost me? He shrugged and shook his head. $1000 plus GST — I put it in myself when I built the house. I asked them if they are aware all the plumbing in my house uses black ABS. The boss said not all houses use ABS, some use white piping. I then asked if he’s ever been to Home Depot, because all the plumbing there is black ABS piping.

From the 35 minute discussion with the two young men, I learned that yes, they were offering rental services – sort of, but not today. Today they just wanted to check to see if I was compliant with the 2009 regulations, and warn me that I will get a red tag in 2015. I also learned that the seer rating of my AC unit was lower than one I could have. And finally, I learned that my ABS piping was a ticking time-bomb that needed correcting because it wasn’t white. At that point my wife informed me I had a phone call. I walked away with only a plastic “business card”.

I was so upset from Enbridge sending an affiliate company to look at my equipment just to tell me my AC unit will be red tagged from not conforming to a regulation it supports, that I called Enbridge to unload my displeasure in being subjected to such a racket firsthand. Not an hour later, senior management from Enbridge pipeline called me from Alberta. This manager was very professional. After listening to the voicemail I left previously, he promised to look into the matter personally. This morning the same manager from called to inform me of a few things he learned thus far. These being: The company Ontario Energy Group is not affiliated to Enbridge. They are a 3rd party rental service provider. This manager questioned the claims by the sales people to them directly by phone. The red tags on equipment, the required replacement of AC refrigerant, the non compliant ABS piping and the OEB regulations of 2009 — all flat out denied.

Remaining questions: Why was I never corrected when I expressed a clear understanding of your supposed affiliation to Enbridge? Why was I first told they [sales representatives] were only checking my equipment for OEB compliance? Why was I led with the impression that their job was more public regulation reporting than a sales call? Why only after 30 minutes of technical prodding do I find you MIGHT be a 3rd party rental company? All these questions were answered this afternoon.

I’ve contacted your company looking to speak to senior VP or equivalent, unfortunately I’m consistently redirected to a sales manager. As of right now, I’ve looked up your company name on the BBB.org website [http://www.bbb.org/kitchener/business-reviews/energy-service-companies/ontario-energy-group-in-mississauga-on-1208383] It appears that your company has an extensive record for violations across Ontario. Further to this, there’s currently government action against your company! I can only surmise that the lessons in best business practices — NOT learned. Your trends in malcontent do not indicate measurable remorse, as the BBB has 40 cases of misrepresentation under your name — all ringing with similar experiences to mine. It is my regret to inform you that your company (as of this moment) is fired. The effects of being terminated by myself won’t take hold immediately, however, repeated termination by all those who recognize your unsustainable business practices eventually will.

As for anyone else soliciting at my door: If I spend 35 minutes in technical discussion, it’s because I’m trolling you.

Mang