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Don't fall for heat-pump cold calls

Been cold called by a company claiming your heat pump needs servicing? Don’t believe it.

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Consumer member Bernardine Vester was phoned by a company called Air Force One telling her that her heat pump was due for a service. The cost quoted was $150.

“I only bought the heat pump last year. No one told me it needed annual servicing and this didn’t sound like my heat pump retailer,” Bernardine said. “Although I was very dubious, I was persuaded to agree.”

Wisely, Bernardine also called the store where she bought the heat pump. Its advice: the heat pump may need servicing at some point but not yet.

Our consumer adviser Maggie Edwards agreed.

“Getting a professional to check a heat pump every couple of years is worthwhile but an annual service isn’t necessary,” she said.

Bernardine was unimpressed by Air Force One’s sales tactics. When the company’s rep turned up at her house, she told him she no longer wanted the service.

“I didn’t solicit this service and felt bulldozed into accepting the offer,” she said.

This isn’t the first time Air Force One’s sales methods have sparked a complaint. When we asked the company how it got people’s phone numbers, it said it assumed most people had a heat pump and cold called from the phone book.

Air Force One was set up in 2012. Its directors, Shawn Blanchfield and Frank Garratt, are also directors of a heat pump company called Cool N Heat, which went into liquidation in March this year owing $504,000 to Inland Revenue in outstanding GST and PAYE.

Legal rights

The Fair Trading Act gives you rights against cold-calling sales reps.

If you agree to buy goods or services from a cold-caller and the value is more than $100, you have the right to cancel for any reason. The company must tell you this verbally and in writing.

You can cancel the deal within five working days of receiving the written agreement – and you can cancel at any time if the company doesn’t provide the information.

Companies risk breaching the Fair Trading Act if they fail to tell you about your rights or mislead you about the need for a product or service. Make a complaint to the Commerce Commission if this happens.

If you’re feeling pressured by a cold-calling sale rep, don’t feel shy about hanging up.

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