A wise colleague and friend of mine suggests there is NOTHING sold door to door that you need, or need to make an immediate decision on.
What you will get if you let them in and sign on: ...You will likely get a nice new rental water heater that you may -- OR MAY NOT -- need.
You will likely get a contract for as long as 15 years. (Your current rental with Direct Energy probably does not involve a contractual commitment beyond month-to-month)
Your costs will very likely go up. (Some will claim efficiency or environmental benefits -- the validity of the claims is variable by company and situation)
You will likely have an "early cancellation" penalty that you didn't have before.
If it follows the pattern of the gas contracts, you will also probably have a new company to deal with in a year or two. Many of those companies were really in the business of selling the contracts rather than actually servicing them. They would then sell the contracts to another company at some later date.
My advice: say "no". If they want to leave literature, fine. If they get pushy, say "NO!!"
This routine has being going on for a while. Here, for example is a piece by Ellen Roseman from 2009:
By Ellen Roseman Personal Finance Columnist
Someone comes to your door and says your water heater is inefficient or unsafe.
Would you like a replacement?
Stop right there. If you say yes, you may be sorry.
Look what happened to a couple living in Ajax. The wife is at home with a newborn baby.
A National Home Services agent came to her door and said he was replacing water heaters in the area from Sept. 14 to 16.
Assuming he was with the company from which they rented the water heater, she said yes.
"Twenty minutes after being asked to sign to acknowledge the change, a technician arrived to remove our water heater," the husband says.
The couple read the contract later that day and decided to cancel the deal with National Home Services.
They were told there would be a $600 fee to remove the water heater after it had been installed.
When I heard about this, I thought there might be a legal issue.
Under Ontario's Consumer Protection Act, you have the right to cancel within 10 days without a penalty if you sign a contract in your home worth more than $50.
I asked the Consumer Protection Branch whether National Home Services could be seen as trying to get around the rules by installing the new tank during the 10-day period.
If the door-to-door supplier initiates the transaction, "the 10-day cooling-off period is absolute. The supplier installs on a rush basis at its own risk," said director Chris Ferguson.
It's different if the consumer calls the supplier for an emergency replacement and insists on getting it within 10 days.
In such a case, the consumer may be liable to pay the supplier reasonable compensation for installation or removal.
However, pushing to perform a service within the 10-day period can be seen as trying to deny the consumer the right "to cool off" under the statute, said Vishnu Kangalee, another consumer protection official.
Moreover, suppliers can't charge a big penalty to a consumer who requests the right to cool off within 10 days – even if the contract has a clause they believe allows them to do this.
"In our view, such a clause is not sufficient if the consumer has neither solicited nor requested the supplier to perform the service within the 10-day cooling-off period," Kangalee said.
Gord Potter, executive vice-president of Just Energy (which owns National Home Services), agreed to let the couple out of the contract without the $600 penalty.
Enbridge Gas (formerly Consumers Gas) once had a monopoly on water heater rentals in Ontario.
Direct Energy bought the business in 2002, but didn't face any competition until recently.
Direct Energy doesn't go door to door to replace your water heater, said spokesman Joshua Orzech. Nor does it make you sign a long-term rental contract with penalties to get out early (as competitors do).
Another National Home Services sales agent visited the same couple yesterday and used the same misleading sales pitch.
"I said, `Shouldn't you start out by saying that you are a competitor to Direct Energy, who we deal with, and that you want our service?' He just took off," the new mother told me.
So, remember this: If a sales agent induces you to replace your water heater during the 10-day cooling off period, but you change your mind, you can't be charged a removal fee.
Call the Ontario consumer ministry at 416-326-8800 for help in obtaining a refund.
Hope this helps. Comments welcome... Who's been knocking at your door?