Summer is still in full swing, but winter is just a season away

News Release

Check out these cool tips before signing your snow removal contract

July 26, 2017 – OTTAWA, ON – Competition Bureau

While ice cream is likely the coldest thing on your mind right now, it’s a great time to start thinking about your snow removal contract for the coming season.

Make hay while the sun shines! By reviewing these helpful tips now, you’ll be prepared when the flyer arrives in the mail, or when you receive your contract renewal request. You’ll know which questions to ask and how to spot the contract clauses that could snowball into bigger problems.

Picking the right contractor might seem simple, but every year we hear many stories from consumers about services that do not meet their expectations. In some cases, restrictive contract clauses are the source of the problem. All the terms and conditions that impact the service you pay for should be explained up front. Knowing what you’re signing up for ahead of time will help avoid problems and misunderstandings this winter.

Here’s some advice to get the most out of your snow removal contract:

  • Shop around: Know that you are under no obligation to renew your contract. Be specific when describing your needs, consult multiple contractors and compare services and prices to get the best deal.
  • Check the contractor’s credentials: Some municipalities require snow plow contractors to have a licence. Contact your municipality for more information. Local trade associations or the Better Business Bureau may also offer lists of accredited or certified snow removal companies in your neighbourhood.
  • Check for subcontracting arrangements: Know that some contracts include arrangements where another company ends up clearing your driveway. Before signing, check whether that kind of clause is included in the contract and ask yourself whether it fits your needs.
  • Know the limits: Some contractors set a minimum snowfall requirement before they will clear, or set a maximum amount of snow that they will remove during a season. Check the numbers and decide whether they work for you.
  • Detect new clauses: When renewing your contract, don’t assume that it’s the same as last year’s. Confirm that no new clauses have been added without your knowledge.
  • Ask questions: Go over every clause of the contract with your potential supplier. It is time wisely spent for you and the contractor!
  • Get it in writing: Don’t hire a company who won’t give you a written contract or proper invoices. Keep all records and communications. If you need to make a complaint, you’ll have everything at hand.
  • Promote competition: Last winter, the Competition Bureau issued a Business Alert to inform snow removal contractors of their obligations under the Competition Act. Check it out and share it with your contractor.

If you believe that your snow removal contractor is engaging in activities contrary to the Competition Act, such as making false or misleading representations or agreeing with other contractors to fix prices or divide territories, contact the Bureau and file a complaint.

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