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'He talked me into it': Ontario senior receives $40,000 loan agreement after door-to-door sale

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For years, door-to-door sales have been banned in Ontario, but that isn’t stopping some companies from continuing to push expensive, long-term rental contracts on unsuspecting homeowners.

“It wasn't something I wanted or needed, but he talked me into it," Helen Hadwin of Oshawa, Ont. told CTV News Toronto.

Hadwin said it was June 2023 when someone knocked on her door and said that she could get government rebates and lower her monthly bill if she installed a water softener and HEPA filter.

Believing she was about to save money, Hadwin said she agreed to have a water softener and a HEPA air filter installed without knowing the price of the equipment. She was told the paperwork would be sent at a later date, she said.

When Hadwin received the loan agreement in the mail, however, she said she was shocked by the amount.

"I just about had a heart attack,” she said.

It would turn out that Hadwin was locked into a contract with Simply Group Financial Corporation (SGFC) for a loan of $18,000, amortized over 15 years at 11.99 per cent interest. This meant that, over the course of the life contract, Hadwin stood to pay almost $40,000.

Hadwin’s daughter, Willow Parker, has been trying to help her mother get out of the contract, citing a lack of paperwork signed the day of. Parker is also concerned there is now a Notice of Security Interest (NOSI), also commonly referred to as a lien, on equipment in her mother’s house.

“She is going to be stuck with a house she can't get rid of because it has a lien on it for an $18,000 water softener and HEPA filter,” Parker said. "It's about $3,000 worth of equipment and there is no way it should cost her almost $40,000 in the end.”

Ultimately, she feels her mother was misled and wants to see the contract nullified.

CTV News reached out to SGFC for a statement but was contacted by a company called Financeit, which acquired SGFC last summer.

A spokesperson for Financeit said the company “recently completed the acquisition of Simply Group Financial Corporation” and, after contacting Hadwin to resolve the matter, removed a lien it had placed on the property and released her from the contract.

“I’m feeling much better now that the lien is off my house,” Hadwin said.

“At least, my mother is not paying $40,000 for a water softener and a HEPA filter,” Parker added.

A spokesperson for SFGC also told CTV News that SGFC was not involved in the in-person or other discussions with Hadwin that resulted in the agreement and financing of the water softener and HEPA filter. The door-to-door sale was done by a third-party equipment dealer and not SGFC. SGFC also said it claims no mortgage, lien or other security interest in the real property but said the NOSI reflects the fact that SGFC holds security for its loan but only over the equipment it has financed.

Homeowners in Ontario should know that, if they invite a salesperson into their home, the transaction is no longer considered door-to-door, absolving the protections that came with the 2018 ban.

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