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Consumer SOS: Home smoke alarms and doorbell? That’s $3,500, please

Click to play video: 'Deceived senior pays $3,500 for smoke alarms, door bell' Deceived senior pays $3,500 for smoke alarms, door bell
WATCH ABOVE: Two sales women pretending to work for a utility company convinced a Brampton senior to agree to pay more than $3,500 for replacement smoke alarms and a video door bell. She says she didn't realize how much it would all cost until it was too late. Sean O'Shea reports – Feb 7, 2019

A Brampton senior who opened the door to sales people pretending to work for Enbridge ended up with a long-term contract to rent smoke alarms and a video door bell.

“They were here to inspect the smoke alarms and change them,” said Shirley Devi, who called Global News after realizing she had been misled.

“They said they’re from Enbridge and I thought it would cost… maybe $200 or $300.”

In fact, the two female sales agents really worked for another company. After inspecting Devi’s utility bill and presenting their pitch, she was convinced to sign a contract committing her to pay $59 a month for the next 60 months — more than $3,500 in total.

For that, Devi would receive a Nest video doorbell and four Nest smoke alarms which monitor smoke and carbon monoxide. If purchased directly from a retail supplier, Global News calculated the cost of the items would be less than $900. Choosing conventional smoke alarms would reduce the retail price to $400 or less.

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The high-tech doorbell, which captures photographic and video images of someone on the porch, is of no use to Devi because she doesn’t have a smart phone to view whoever is outside.

Devi said she was shocked to find out the real cost, billed by Mississauga-based Mor Connect, the company that came to her door.

READ MORE: Enbridge warns of text message rebate scam

Consumers in Ontario typically have ten days to cancel a direct services contract signed at home. Devi said she attempted to reach Mor Connect for the purposes of cancelling, but was unable to get through during the cancellation period.

Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act also stipulates that consumers have up to a year to cancel a contract “if the business or salesperson you’ve signed your contract with made a false or misleading statement about the contract.”

Devi said Mor Connect’s vice president, Ali Mohammad, offered to reduce the price by $300. Then later, he further offered to reduce the total bill to about $1,000 after Global News left him messages.

But Devi said she wanted nothing more than to sever her contract with the company and for them to retrieve their equipment.

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READ MORE: New homeowners frustrated after receiving a bill for a water heater rental they knew nothing about

Global News went to the address posted on Mor Connect’s website, but the company wasn’t listed in the office building directory. Later, Global News learned that the company works from a third-floor office under the name Carbon Less, Inc.

A video doorbell was mounted beside the office’s locked door. Efforts to reach someone inside were unsuccessful. While Mor Connect counts on consumers answering their doors and admitting sales representatives, Mor Connect was unwilling to open its door to a reporter and camera crew or to speak to them through the doorbell’s audio system.

Late Thursday, just hours after Global News left her home, Devi called with good news. She said the company sent a technician to remove the doorbell. The technician told her he was instructed to leave the installed smoke alarms behind “as a gift.”

The technician also wrote “void” on her original contract and told Devi, with Global News listening through a speakerphone, that she would not be billed for anything in future. So far, she has not received a bill.

Devi said she’s learned a valuable lesson: not to allow sales people in to her home unless she’s called them. And she won’t be signing any contracts for services, either.

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