Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

Painter fined $10,000 by Consumer Protection Ontario after shabby treatment of 86-year-old customer

Canadian Contractor Business

John Schofield, director of Pine Frames Construction Ltd. (Toronto) was convicted of failing to return a $10,000 deposit, when properly requested before work had begun, to an 86-year-old client who had recently lost his wife

Here’s a press release from Ontario’s Consumer Protection Agency.  As much as so many of us are sick and tired of regulatory agencies that pursue non-essential issues with contractors to line their own pockets, it’s hard not to applaud the law coming down on any contractor that would treat an 86-year-old customer – who had just lost his wife, for Pete’s sake – this way.

TORONTO – On September 29, 2014, John Schofield, Director of Pine Frames Construction Ltd. (Toronto) was convicted of charges under the (Ontario) Consumer Protection Act.  Mr. Schofield received $10,000 in fines, followed by two years’ probation and was ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution to an 86-year-old consumer.

Shortly after the senior lost his wife, Mr. Schofield visited him at home and discussed painting the interior of his house. He returned the same day with a typed contract pricing the job at $36,000. When the consumer said he could not pay that amount, Mr. Schofield offered to take him to the bank for a loan. The consumer refused, but signed the contract and provided a $10,000 deposit.

The next day, the consumer left Mr. Schofield a telephone message indicating he wanted to cancel. A few days later Mr. Schofield called the man and told him he could not cancel because he was intending to start work that day and had already spent $19,000 on materials. Mr. Schofield did not show and the same day the consumer sent him a registered letter cancelling the contract and asking for a refund. When the letter was returned as “moved/address unknown”, the man filed a complaint.

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The contract contained a number of deficiencies – most notably it did not include the consumer’s right to cancel – and did not comply with the Consumer Protection Act. Justice of the Peace Worku of the Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto convicted Schofield and Pine Frames Construction Ltd. on the following charges:

(1) Failing to provide a consumer with a proper contract containing the information required by the Consumer Protection Act

(2) Failing to refund payment within 15 days of being given notice of cancellation of the consumer agreement.

Consumers are reminded to check the ministry’s Consumer Beware List at www.ontario.ca/consumerbeware before doing business with any company.

QUICK FACTS

Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act, 2002, provides for fines of up to $250,000 for corporations and $50,000 for individuals convicted of offences. It also provides for jail terms for individuals of up to two years less a day for each offence. The act also empowers the court to order offenders to pay compensation or make restitution to victims.

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