City warns Londoners to beware of a door-to-door water-testing scam
23rd December 2018

The city is warning of a water-testing scam that could dupe you out of thousands of dollars.

On Wednesday, city officials said they’ve been receiving an increase in reports from homeowners who say door-to-door salespeople and telemarketers have been coming to their homes to conduct what they say are water quality tests and then trying to sign them up for treatment devices on payment plans.

“The person does a series of what they call ‘water tests’ and tries to convince the homeowners that the tap water being provided by the City of London is not safe to drink and requires further treatment,” said Dan Huggins, water quality manager with the City of London.

While the city occasionally contacts homeowners about water quality issues, they say city employees will never try to sell you a product, Huggins said.

He said London’s drinking water is sourced from Lake Huron and Lake Erie and has been treated to surpass the quality standards set by the province.

“There’s absolutely no reason for further treatment.”

According to Huggins, these salespeople tend to use a couple different tactics.

“They’ll call and say, ‘We’re doing water testing in your area. When can we come by to make sure your tap water is safe?’ They’ll say who they are, often leading people to believe they work for the government or some government agency.”

Huggins said another method is to leave a sample bottle in the mailbox encouraging homeowners to fill it with their water and put it back in their mailbox for a free water quality analysis. Then, Huggins said, they’ll book an appointment to come into the home.

For the most part, he said they use chemical trickery to make the water look brown, then say “This water isn’t safe to drink and we need you to sign up for this home filter system.”

“These are long-term contracts and the monthly payments over the years add up to thousands of dollars,” Huggins said.

He also said they’ve had reports of people saying they need to inspect all the taps in the house and then going from room to room looking at the faucets.

“Those people, I’m certain, are casing the place to see what may be inside.”

According to the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services, no door-to-door salespeople are authorized to make a health-based test on your water, adding door-to-door sales of water purifiers, filters, softeners, and treatment devices are prohibited — unless you contacted them first.

If you believe you may have been misled by a door-to-door salesperson, you can contact the city or learn more about your rights under the Consumer Protection Act by visiting ontario.ca

“Be very cautious if someone you don’t know knocks on your door and is offering you something for free,”  Huggins said.

“Don’t let someone frighten you into signing something on the spot. If you tell the person that you need a day or two to think it over and they give you the indication that you have to sign now, then you know it’s not legitimate,” he said.

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