TORONTO–A Brampton man who opened his door to salesmen says he was offered a free air conditioning unit but later learned he had to pay about $6500 for it.
“They checked the air conditioning and said it’s not working well,” said Constantin Doulgeris, who is retired and lives on a pension.
Doulgeris told Global News he allowed the salesmen to look at his heating and air conditioning system because they said it was under warranty.
“That was the only reason I let them in,” he said. “They said I can get a free replacement. I can get it for free.”
When Doulgeris’s daughter became aware of what happened, she started doing some research. She called the company and found out Doulgeris was on the hook for about $6500, paid out in monthly installments for the new unit.
“He got scammed, he thought he was doing good,” said Helen Falcioni, who called Secure Home Services, the company that quickly arranged and completed the installation of the new air conditioning system.
“It’s a huge injustice for low-income seniors to be treated this way,” Falcioni said.
She says her father never signed a contract agreeing to pay for the air conditioning unit. She says he only signed an acknowledgement that that the air conditioning unit had been installed.
After complaining to the company, alleging her father had been duped, Secure Home Services sent regulatory manager James Keena to the home to discuss the installation. He brought a copy of the contract to which he says Doulgeris was bound.
RELATED: New immigrants, seniors become targets of phone scams: Halifax police
Originally, as witnessed by Global News cameras, Keena told Doulgeris the contract bore the name and signature of his wife, Agapi. Family members told Keena the signature was not hers or his.
Secure Home Services vice president Ali Mohammad told Global News he had spoken to the salesmen who dealt with Doulgeris. Mohammad said in an email: “the father signed the agreement and understood the contract”.
Later in the day, when asked for clarification, Mohammad emailed Global News with a different explanation.
“Yes. Wife’s name and husband’s signature on the contract,” Mohammad wrote.
READ MORE: Liberal bill would see ban on doorstep sales of furnaces, air conditioners in Ontario
Following a television broadcast of Doulgeris’s plight, Global News received a statement from lawyers representing Secure Home Services. It reads, in part:
“SHS is firmly of the view that they have acted in accordance with all of their contractual and legislative obligations as a responsible home services company. SHS is dismayed by the unnecessary and unwarranted media attention regarding one of their customers and their contract, which has inhibited and interfered with a prompt and satisfactory resolution with the customer,” said Pradeep Chand of Chand Snider LLP.
The letter promises the company is working on a resolution but that hasn’t happened so far. The family wants to retain the new unit or get their old one reinstalled, at no charge.
“My dad’s not the first and not the last to be scammed. It’s a huge injustice for low income seniors to be treated this way,” said Falcioni.
Secure Home Services did agree to follow the Ontario Consumer Protection Act by allowing the customer out of the contract in exchange for the removal of the equipment.