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Missing Furnace Tag Could Have Left Family In The Cold

This article is from the Ottawa Citizen’s website on March 1st, 2013. It is written by Hugh Adami from the Ottawa Citizen. The source of the article is: Ottawa Citizen Link


OTTAWA — What is it with a company that installs a $6,000 furnace improperly and then pushes the customer, an expectant mother, to frantic stress levels because she might be without heat when her newborn arrives from hospital? On Christmas Day, no less.

Believe it or not, Toronto-based Ontario Consumers Home Services kept Jolene Dione — who was due to give birth to a baby girl named Gwendolyn on Friday — and her husband, Jamie, on edge for almost two months. Jolene says her blood pressure rose as she hit wall after wall dealing with the company’s customer service department.

The problems for the couple, both federal public servants, started in early November. Jolene was in the basement of the couple’s Kanata home when she noticed water on the floor around her furnace. The furnace was installed in July after a door-to-door salesperson sold them the unit.

Jolene says she was stuck on who to call for servicing because there wasn’t a sticker on the furnace that provided a telephone number. She also couldn’t find warranty papers, though she thinks they were never given any by the installer. She decided to call Direct Energy, which also sells and services furnaces.

After a Direct Energy technician arrived, he determined that there were a number of installation problems with the furnace, including one relating to a drainage hose. He presented Jolene with a $111.80 bill, and explained that she had to get Ontario Consumers to rectify the problems. But in the meantime, as required by law, the technician “red-tagged” the furnace and said he would be informing Enbridge, her natural gas provider. He issued a type B red tag, which gives the homeowner 45 days to have any problems corrected. If the work isn’t done in that time, then Enbridge turns off the gas supply to the furnace. In more serious situations, type A cards are issued, the gas is turned off immediately and cannot be turned on again until repairs are carried out.

Jolene says there were two parts to the ordeal: Getting the repairs done and then having Ontario Consumers inform Enbridge to cancel the red tag.

The repairs took about three weeks, requiring two visits by a Ontario Consumers technician. He failed to show for three appointments between his first and last visits. He informed the couple that their furnace installer, who took nine hours to do the job, was no longer with the company because he wasn’t very good.

But the guy who did the repairs left the Diones in the lurch, too. He told Jolene that he would fill out the red tag and send it to Enbridge. Well, it appears he forgot — at least the part about sending the tag to Enbridge.

That only resulted in more warnings from Enbridge about its plan to shut off the couple’s gas on Dec. 25. Jolene asked Enbridge if it could deal with Ontario Consumers directly to locate the tag, but was told it was her responsibility. Enbridge did offer to check the work, but an inspection would have cost another $70.

Jolene grew more frustrated dealing with various customer service agents. No one seemed to grasp the seriousness of the situation that she could be facing when she brought her baby home.

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