The Canadian Competition Bureau has issued a fine of 25 million dollars to both Direct Energy and Reliance Comfort. The charges suggest that the two water heater rental companies have been gouging customers and making it ridiculously difficult to end contracts. Both Direct Energy and Reliance offer rental water heaters throughout Ontario.
Critics suggest that the industry is mainly a big scam as the cost of renting a water heater is nearly high enough to cover the cost of owing one. In addition the penalties to exit a contract are exorbitant and designed to confuse and frustrate a customer into giving up.
Interestingly this isn’t the first time that Direct Energy has been in hot water. In 2002 following a similar investigation the Competition Bureau enforced new rules and conduct guidelines that Enbridge Services (now Direct Energy) was required to follow under a 10 year consent order. The investigation found that Direct Energy re-engaged in the sleazy conduct in February of 2012.
As for Reliance, the company was apparently in a co-operative discussion regarding its hot water tank return policy. They also suggested that the company had initiated the difficult return policy in an attempt to thwart rival water heater companies.
I cant think of a better reason to simply purchase your own water heater, be that a tankless or just your conventional power vent. The rental business can be full of bureaucracy and technicalities. If you must have the peace of mind that comes with a full service, 24 hour emergency replacement then it might be worthwhile to look into maintenance plans. These are usually only 5-10 bucks a month, depending on equipment and gives you a full sense of security, oh ya, also no long term contract.