Finally, I also have become the victim of an unscrupulous swindler in the home clean air industry, in spite of thinking of myself as an educated, alert senior citizen.
I stay home much of my day as a writer and a retired person, so I value my indoor environment. As most of my friends will know, I have been bothered by the second hand smoke of various types coming from the other residents around me in the townhouse complex. Since the building was constructed 20 years ago, the used air exhaust and fresh air intakes are insufficient, but cannot be easily remedied without breaking holes in the roof, for which the strata council will not give permission.
To determine what to do about this air quality problem in my home, I contacted the City of Kelowna’s on-line service on air quality issues a month ago. The City of Kelowna responder called me and provided me with a phone number for a consult with a specialist. When I called, the consultant said he would do a home inspection and made an appointment. It turned out this was not a City employee, as I initially assumed.
The man who turned out to be the sole owner/operator of an independent company for home inspections, spent an hour or so discussing the issues with me. The Assure Property Solutions business was licensed by Consumers Protection BC according to its website. He talked about allergens and moulds. I made it clear to him that second hand smoke was the issue and that the air quality should be tested for smoke particles. I explicitly told him that I was not interested in allergens and pollens. We talked about an hour about all possible ways how smoke comes into the building and to improve the HVAC situation with its poor air quality.
When smoke entered my home right that moment through my cold air return grate, he recommended it would be a good time to test right then, so I agreed, first asking the price, then giving him the go-ahead. For a total bill of $729.75, an amount I could not afford to just throw away on a pensioner’s income, he would give me the evidence that I needed to stop the air quality issue. Totally worth it.
Strangely, he would not give me a receipt, although he insisted I would pay right then by email transfer, waiting for me to complete that. He would not provide a receipt, but said he would enclose it with the test results. I should have caught on right then, but didn’t.
I received the test results by email some days later with the receipt attached. The test used were exclusively meant for molds and spores. No ability to test for second hand smoke with its particles was possible with this test, or even included in the list of compounds and volatiles to be measured. I would not have paid, had I seen the receipt on the day of the tests that described mold tests. I objected in writing by email and requested a refund for the testing fees, as he had not delivered the test I asked for ($400). No reply.
Surprise, surprise, only after I contacted the Assure Property Solutions company man in writing to tell him I was going to involve others, he finally replied–14 days after the testing day. He denied he had sold me the wrong tests and denied all responsibility for his advice to have the test completed for my concerns of second hand smoke. He was not willing to reimburse me the testing fees and considered his business with me completed.
I contacted the City of Kelowna on line and advised that their recommended home inspection company is untrustworthy. As I did not get a reply, I saw a City employee in person at city hall for air quality, almost a week after the testing day, and spoke about the problem. She advised through Bylaw Services to contact the Better Business Bureau. Alas, Assure Property Services is not affiliated with that consumer protection company. Later, that same day, I received an emailed reply confirming that the City of Kelowna cannot be responsible for their employees’ recommendations. This unreliable business is testing home air quality under false pretenses, recommended by the City. I am still not any closer to knowing how much smoke I am breathing in, and paid out $729.75 to a swindler, recommended by the City of Kelowna.
After my first contact with the Assure Property Solutions contractor, I had sent an on-line complaint to the Consumer Protection BC with whom the Assure Property Solutions was registered. Then two weeks after that, I spoke to somebody there. I heard that my concern doesn’t fall within their mandate. They strictly apply the BUSINESS PRACTICES AND CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT to the home inspection part of the services Assure Property Solutions provides. Any other services, air testing etc. is not included. So much for consumer protection.
I had another contact by email from the Assure Property Solutions contractor to offer me a phone call to straighten out the problem. This man denied what he had actually said in person during the testing, and conveniently did not remember that I explicitly told him not to be interested in testing of mold and allergens. History is the best predictor of future actions, I thought, so I declined a phone call from him and said to send me an email if he has an offer. I repeated by request for reimbursement of the testing fees of $400. I assured him he could keep his (steep) consulting fee of $295.
Of course, I have no further offer received since….
I must walk around with my age on my face: Here is a senior, lets try to get her money. Fortunately, I will be off to Mexico soon for a few months, leaving this air quality conundrum behind.
Then again, REAL big problems I don’t have, like they have now in the USA! Where there’s smoke, there IS fire.