Some GTA residents are coming home to find free water tests hanging on their doors. The residents are instructed to leave a sample of their water in the bottle provided and it will be tested.
"I don't know. It hasn't come from the city. It just kinda showed up at my doorstep," said west end resident Mike De Nino. "It wasn't like anyone came and said, 'Oh hey this is what we're doing, maybe you want to take part in it.' I have no idea."
The test is free, but what residents aren't told is that the company offering the testing, in this case Mississauga-based Lifetime Water Systems, will call them afterward and come to their house to give a sales demonstration for water filters.
2-hour pitch for $10K water filter
There is nothing illegal about the sales approach, but that doesn't mean residents aren't frustrated that they feel like they were tricked into a sales pitch.
Brampton homeowner Ajaybir Chahal says he participated in the free water test, and afterward a sales representative showed up and gave what he describes as a two-hour pitch for a $10,000 water filter.
"They have this intimidating way of making you believe what they're saying is true," Chahal said. "If anyone tried to sell you something at your house, unless you are really interested in it, don't let them into your house."
Chahal did not make a purchase from Lifetime Water Systems.
The city has placed a warning notice on its website, including a fact sheet about door-to-door water testing.
"The City of Toronto does not endorse or sponsor private water testing or any related products or services," said Ellen Lesti, a city spokesperson. "Residents should be aware that, in Ontario, only fully accredited laboratories are licensed to perform health-based tests on drinking water. Water quality tests take approximately 24 to 48 hours to process."
Owner defends tactic
Toronto offers testing for lead in drinking water at no charge.
Lifetime owner Fernando Castello defended his company's tactics in a written statement.
"The home owner really is in control at all stages of the process," Castello said. "They are by no means under any obligation to even consider a solution, let alone purchase one.
"We realize some people are uncomfortable in the presence of a sales representative. We realize some people feel pressure and others do not. We attempt to make everyone feel comfortable during the entire process."