A door-to-door water treatment sales company faces 112 charges under the Consumer Protection Act in Ontario, Canada
The Province of Ontario has filed 112 charges against an Ottawa businessman linked to a door-to-door water treatment sales business.
According to the Ottawa Citizen, Saeed Torbati is facing charges under the Consumer Protection Act in relation to his role as director of Ontario Stars Corporation, which has allegedly also been carrying out business as another company calling itself Ontario Safety Standards.
“It is alleged that the corporation made false, misleading, or deceptive representations to consumers in their homes. It is also alleged that the corporation used a contract that did not comply with the [Consumer Protection] Act and failed to provide refunds to consumers as required,” said Harry Malhi, a spokesman for the ministry, in an emailed statement. “Mr. Torbati is charged as a Director of Ontario Stars Corporation. It is alleged that he failed in his duty to prevent the corporation from committing offences contrary to the Consumer Protection Act.”
According to the ministry, the charges stem from the complaints of 19 people living in Ottawa.
The Ottawa Citizen conducted an investigation into complaints raised about the business practices of Ontario Safety Standards in 2017. Several people alleged they were subjected to high pressure sales tactics, were provided misleading information and many expressed frustration about the difficulty they faced in withdrawing from a contract during their provincially mandated “cooling off period”, this period gives a consumer up to 20 days to cancel a contract they have agreed to. According to the Citizen, some even claim the company promised that the equipment being installed would save them money on their bills. However, those savings never materialized.
The city has issued repeated warnings about companies offering water filters or water softeners to residents who draw their water from municipal water supplies, according to the Citizen. City engineers caution that municipally supplied water is already soft and a water softener may simply increase sodium levels. They also claims that additional filtration of Ottawa municipal tap water is not necessary.
Pradeep Chand, a lawyer representing Torbati as well as Ontario Safety Standards and Ontario Stars Corp., said his clients intend “to vigorously defend themselves against the allegations and are eager to have the matter dealt with before the courts.”
“We urge all commentators to remember that evidence against the defendant has not been heard and it will be tested in a courtroom,” Chand said. “Until then, there are many reasons, including Canada’s constitution that support the presumption (Ontario Safety Standards) and Mr. Torbati are innocent of the allegations against them.”