This past Saturday a representative from National Home Services rang our door bell. I don’t normally let anyone get much of a word in when they ring our door bell and try to sell us some kind of service. In fact, I have a small sign on our door to ward off Direct Energy and Rogers reps. I usually interrupt them to say “No thanks” and close the door on them.
He identified himself and asked to speak with the owner of the house. I told him that was me. He said National Home Services was taking over for Direct Energy and that he was booking appointments to have our hot water heater rental checked to see if it needed replaced, free of charge. If it was replaced in the last year or two, it probably wouldn’t need to be replaced.
Perhaps that was the hook that kept my attention.
I told him that I wanted to check with Direct Energy before making any commitments. He said that they had nothing to do with it. I told him that I’d still like to verify with Enbridge or Direct Energy. He actually said he would wait if I wanted to confirm with them over the phone. He even added that if I checked my gas bill, I would see that National Home Services was listed as a partner. I went paperless a while ago, so I couldn't verify at the time.
I asked him if he had any information he could leave with me. He said he didn’t because he wasn’t the sales guy, he was just booking the appointments and head office would follow up. I asked him if he had a business card. He said he didn’t, but he did offer to write down his name and phone number so I could call him once I had contacted Enbridge.
I got a piece of paper and he wrote it down. He also explained that it was his cell number and he was heading back to Toronto.
It all seemed pretty ballsy if it was some kind of a scam.
We thanked each other, shook hands, and off he went to the next house.
I went to Enbridge’s web site and pull up my recent bill. There was no mention of them. However, they are in fact listed on the Enbridge web site as a "participating company”.
From a customer point of view, that adds a little legitimacy to the situation.
I next visited Direct Energy’s web site. I couldn’t find any warnings. I have heard their radio spots in the past warning people that they do not solicit door-to-door, but this guy never claimed to be from Direct Energy.
My next stop was Google. I searched for “national home services” and “water heater”.
I found old forum posts from people warning about National Home Services. I also found and old Toronto Star article online with the same warnings to consumers. These are warnings from 2007, 2008, and 2009.
I’m still puzzled why there’s nothing more prominent on Enbridge’s web site, or Direct Energy’s web site for that matter. My brother in-law sent me a link to something he found on Direct Energy’s web site. Even in that article, they quote an old Toronto Star article.
I can’t, for the life of me, find that article by going to the main page and digging for it myself. Seriously. They’re running the risk of losing customers to a competitor — you would think they’d be a little more concerned about it.
After some more digging I did eventually find someone else’s blog post from March 2011. That’s part of the reason I decided to make my own post. The more warnings out on the web, the better off we all are.
In retrospect, I should have asked him if he knew my name. If he was in fact “taking over” for Direct Energy, I would think that Enbridge would have supplied him with more contact information. I found out from a neighbour later that he had visited their home as well, with the same story. They own their water heater, they don’t rent it from Direct Energy. The guy even questioned whether they were sure they owned it.
I never did call the rep’s phone number to see if it’s even a legit number. If I can find the paper, maybe I will. Or maybe I’ll post it here. :)
I'd like to add that they are a legitimate company; it's their sales tactics that are sleezy and scammy.