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23 October 2019

"Misleading" heat pump servicer faces charges

Commerce Commission alleges company misled customers into paying for unnecessary maintenance work.

The Commerce Commission has laid 10 charges against a heat pump servicing company, claiming it misled consumers.

Ocean Contracting (also trading as Ocean Heatmaster) is accused of telling customers their heat pumps were leaking refrigerant gas and quoted between $180 and $400 to "top" them up.

However, the commission alleges that these top-ups weren’t required, and gathered evidence suggesting Ocean Contracting didn’t carry out the top-ups it said were necessary.

All 10 complainants, mostly retirees in Otago or Southland, received cold calls from Ocean Contracting in 2016 or 2017, and were later visited by the company to carry out the servicing.

The case is now before the Court.

Our advice

We have previously warned consumers to be wary about cold calls from heat pump servicing companies. While heat pumps need regular maintenance, much of it you can do yourself and you don’t need to pay hefty fees to servicing companies.

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

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 sales rep, don’t feel shy about hanging up.

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