Small fines, large void

Apr 19 • Feature Story, ViewpointNo Comments on Small fines, large void

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Last week brought a bittersweet victory for local homeowner Larry Gadal, as well as for all victims of fraudulent tradespeople.

Gadal, who signed a deal with out-of-town Green Planet Home Energy last fall to have a new furnace and air conditioner installed, was stunned at the shoddy workmanship by the company’s installer. With erroneous holes in the wall, mangled siding that featured poorly attempted repairs via the abundant use of caulking, and wires hanging loosely in the wind, the front of Gadal’s house lost a great deal of curb appeal.

Furthermore, the furnace couldn’t even do its job, as it couldn’t heat Gadal’s Given Road home up to 20C in the cold of winter.

So he called a local company, Absolute Comfort, to look into removing that furnace and installing a proper unit. They did so, but not before asking the Ontario College of Trades (OCT) to take a look at the botched Green Planet installation effort.

Enforcement officer Bob Wolsing examined the work in January, and laid charges soon thereafter.

Well, last week, Green Planet pleaded guilty to two infractions – sending an installer, Cong Minh Bui, to do work for which he had no certificate of qualification. According to the OCT, he had no certificate as an electrician or as a refrigeration and air conditioning system mechanic.

The result? Two $300 fines.

The front of Larry Gadal’s home was damaged, the installed furnace didn’t work properly, resulting in the need for expensive electric space heaters, and the company received less than a slap on the wrist.

As for Bui, his day in court is pushed back to mid-May.

How does $600 in fines discourage companies from continuing with questionable installation practices? It doesn’t.

We’re told that Green Planet is now on the OCT’s radar. If they reoffend, the fines could leap upwards.

Still, that’s small consolation for Gadal. At least, with the help of Absolute Comfort, he has proper heating and cooling for his home now.

The moral of the story? Buy local, shop local and do your homework on the company and the person brought in to do the work.

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