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CFA raises alarm on dodgy smoke detector deals

CFA has called on residents to keep an eye out for rogue operators who are preying on the elderly, by talking them into exorbitant contracts for smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Last month CFA members in Euroa were called to an elderly woman’s home after she complained her smoke alarm wouldn’t stop going off. She told them a Melbourne based company had provided five smoke alarms and one carbon monoxide detector after she signed a $4032 contract for installation and maintenance.

CFA has received other reports of similar high prices and “hard sell” tactics by door to door sales people and telemarketers.

North East Region Operations Manager Stuart Broad said you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on smoke or carbon monoxide detectors.

“You can buy a smoke alarm from as little as ten dollars. CFA recommends models with photoelectric sensors and lithium batteries that last up to ten years. They cost twenty to forty dollars.

“You can get a carbon monoxide detector for around the same price.

“Smoke alarms aren’t expensive, require just a yearly battery changeover by way of maintenance, and every home is required by law to have them.

“Experience has shown time and time again that they save lives.”

CFA members advised the Euroa woman to cancel her contract and are installing replacement $20 smoke alarms in her home.

The company she dealt with has been reported to Consumer Affairs Victoria.

Mr Broad said anyone approached with similarly exorbitant offers should contact the regulator as well.

“If you’ve recently signed such a deal you should take advantage of Australian law which provides a ten day ‘cooling off’ period for such contracts. Businesses can’t refuse to cancel the contract within that time.”

More information about “cooling off” periods can be found on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website.

Consumer Affairs Victoria can be contacted on 1300 55 81 81.

Last Updated: 13 May 2016