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1 September 2015

Trader earns another complaint

Don’t be shy to hang up on cold callers.

A heat pump servicing company that cold-calls consumers looking for business has attracted another complaint from an unhappy customer.

Consumer member Carol was cold-called by Air Force One, an Auckland-based company that services heat pumps. Carol said she’d assumed the call was from the company that installed her heat pump but realised this wasn’t the case when the Air Force One rep knocked on her door.

The bill for the service was $150. The rep also told her the heat pump was low on gas and another visit would be required to check the appliance. The second visit was quoted at a further $150.

Carol intended to get the original installer to look at the heat pump and told Air Force One not to return. But another of the company’s reps turned up on her doorstep.

Air Force One has been the subject of 18 complaints to the Commerce Commission since September 2013. As a result of investigating these complaints, the commission provided advice to the company last year on complying with the Fair Trading Act.

Under the Act, cold-calling sales reps must give consumers five working days to cancel a sale. Consumers must be informed of their right to cancel both verbally and in writing. However, Carol wasn’t provided with this information.

Air Force One director Frank Garratt disputes the company did anything wrong. Mr Garratt said the company was always “clear about who we are and what the service entails” but acknowledged “it is possible we did not inform [Carol] of her legal right to cancel. We regret this and are taking steps to avoid this happening again”.

Mr Garratt said the company found refrigerant gas levels in Carol’s heat pump were low and was concerned the appliance was leaking. The rep was already on site before he could be told Carol didn’t want the company to do any further work, he said.

Carol has since had the heat pump inspected by a company recommended by the manufacturer. The company’s inspection found refrigerant levels were low but didn’t detect any leaks in the heat pump or pipes.

Your rights

If you’re feeling pressured by a cold-calling sales rep, don’t feel shy about hanging up. If you agree to buy a product or service, you’re entitled to a cooling-off period of five working days. The company can’t demand payment for any services provided during this time. If it fails to provide information about your rights to cancel, as in Carol’s case, the agreement can’t be enforced.

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