I sincerely hope that you’re not here because you have fallen victim to ApplianceRepairman.ca (or ApplianceRepairTeam.ca or Appliance Repair Guys), The A Team Appliance Repair, or Gold Star Appliance Repair.
But if you are, there is hope. I was able to get most of my money back within a week by following the steps as outlined below.
If you have not heard of this company before, let me fill you in. They operate in the GTA (Toronto), Hamilton, Barrie and Oshawa. They have many others websites as they change their name frequently. They operate in Guelph, Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge and maybe beyond. They are based in Concord, Ontario (89 Connie Crescent, L4K 1L3) and owned by Idan (Dan) Vidoser and operated by Chen Kochavi.
This is how they operate:
- They charge $80 to send a technician.
- The technician will look for a minute at your broken appliance and then state that in order for him to get a proper diagnosis of the problem, he will have to open up the machine and that this is considered labour so you will be charged extra for it.
- He will draw up a contract/waiver for you to sign outlining the “labour” charges and the cost for each. This is what mine was, for a broken washing machine:
- Watering system: $112
- Mainboard/Timer: $98
- Safety system: $70
- Total: $280 (Bizarrely, this is the total that is calculated with every complaint I have read about, no matter what the appliance)
4. He will tell you that he will deduct the $80 initial fee if you give him the go ahead to service the machine. You do the mental math and think “$280 – 80 = $200. Worth it to get my machine working again”. You sign the waiver.
5. He spends about 10 minutes doing something with the machine (Not sure what. Mental note: always watch what your repairman does) then comes out of the laundry room and states that you need to buy a replacement part at an exorbitant cost (ex. $408.88 for a latch and lock assembly which is $97.33 online). Oh, there will be labour fees on top of that.
6. When you balk, he claims that he warned you beforehand about additional costs and you shouldn’t have signed the waiver if you weren’t willing to spend more money to get it fixed. And that collections services will come after you if you don’t pay what you owe right now ($280).
7. At this point, you will pause and wonder “Is this guy a scammer? But he seems nice! Well, it’s a lot of money, but I guess this is how most companies operate (NOTE: It’s not). Plus, I did sign the waiver so I’ll do what decent people do and honour the contract”. You give him your credit card (P.S. big mistake) and he rings it through. If you’re really unlucky, he will have convinced you to order the “needed” part, too. (Thankfully, I didn’t, but retrospectively, I should have told him to take a hike and sent him away with no payment whatsoever.)
8. He leaves. You are $316.40 dollars poorer and your machine still doesn’t work. You go online and your stomach sinks when you start to read the abysmal reviews and articles written about this company:
As of today:
- Homestars: 552 negative reviews, .6/10 rating (that’s less than 1/10 btw)
- Better Business Bureau: “F” rating
- Ellen Roseman/Toronto Star article, 2014
- Ellen Roseman/Toronto Star article, 2019
- YorkRegion.com article, 2015
- HamiltonNews.com article, 2015
- TrustPilot reviews: 92 reviews, 100% bad
- ApplianceRepairGuys.org: 35 bad reviews (Same company, different name)
- SiteJabber: 28 reviews, all bad
- CBC News article
- Google reviews: 102 bad reviews (google “ApplianceRepairman.ca reviews”, scroll down to the right, click “View all Google Reviews” (Later note: It looks like the company has disabled Google reviews since they are no longer visible).
OMG, you think. I got hosed. Big time. How do I get my money back? You call your bank right away. They tell you there’s nothing they can do. You call the company and they tell you the technician honoured the contract you signed, so, sorry. They might offer you a $35 refund if you call more than once.
I decided to follow the advice found on ApplianceRepairGuys.org, a website set up by another victim of this company. He suggested filing a consumer complaint with Consumer Protection Ontario . Wisely, the crooks at ApplianceRepairman.ca will respond once you set the ball in motion here because they do not want to be shut down.
Before filing a complaint you must write a letter to the company. Email the letter to email@example.com and in the subject line write: Complaint about service done: CONSUMER PROTECTION ONTARIO (this will get their attention). Note that you don’t actually have to file a complaint just yet. Write the letter first and send it off, then wait to see if the company responds.
In your letter to the company, make sure you describe your intention to file a complaint with Consumer Protection Ontario and outline how much money you want back from them. Also give them a time limit to respond (I gave them 48 hrs but they responded the next day). Click here to read my letter.
The company will state that you must sign a waiver to get your money back which is basically a gag order for legal proceedings (which I will completely ignore if ever asked to testify against them). You can try to insist that you won’t sign it until you get your money back but you won’t be successful. They will tell you that you will receive a cheque within 15 business days once the waiver is signed. I recommend that you insist that the money be put back on your credit card (not a cheque) instead and tell them they have 24 hrs to reimburse you or you will proceed with your Consumer Protection Ontario complaint. Here is where you need to take a huge leap of faith: You need to give them your credit card number again before they can process the refund. If you prefer, ask them for a mailed cheque, but you risk having to chase them down for it. I gave them my credit card number and received the refund immediately after sending them the signed waiver. I called my bank right away and made sure that the funds had indeed been credited back to my card. Phew, nightmare over.
So there it is. It was 5 days of pure hell, but a lesson well learned. Never again will I let a service person into my house until I do some research on them.
Here are some questions I have left to ponder:
- How do the employees at this moralless company sleep at night?
- Why does VISA allow this fraudulent company to have a merchant account?
- How has this company been allowed to operate for 5 years now?
- How many thousands of customers have they ripped off?
- Why are victims powerless to shut them down?
- Why isn’t Consumer Protection Ontario stepping in to protect Ontario consumers from this company, as they are mandated to do?
I welcome your comments below. Good luck with your efforts to get your money back if you are a victim. Please let me know how it turns out.
PS: I filed a complaint with Consumer Protection Ontario even though I got my money back and I encourage all victims to do the same. This way the government might finally pay attention to this scam. Here’s their number: 416-326-8800/1-800-889-9768.
I also filed a complaint with the Competition Bureau of Canada. This organization will not help you get your money back but they will help investigate fraudulent companies. Click here to file a complaint.
By the way, the week after I wrote this blogpost I hired an honest repairman, Yevhen Pankratenko, to fix my washer. He repaired it for $85 (including the cost of the visit), proving that the ARM “technician” was a complete scam artist.
Blogpost update, May 7, 2019: Please fill out this form to help us collect evidence against them. Please note that CRITICAL MASS is required to put them out of business, so we need your input!!!!
Blogpost update, Aug. 16, 2019: A group of us have sent a letter to CBC’s Marketplace, GoPublic CBC and W5 CTV for more media coverage. Please let me know if you want to be involved in this story by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blogpost update, Oct. 30, 2019: A disgruntled customer contacted me and said that she had success getting her money back from her bank (TD) after filing a complaint with Consumer Canada.
Update: Oct. 17, 2020
CBC Marketplace did a great exposé on the crooks which was aired last night. Watch here:
Update, Jan. 18th, 2020:
A lawyer who I had been in contact about this case just sent me this email, FYI:
“My analysis is that the defendant is a shell corporation and pursuing the shell corporation would result in a worthless judgment. The situation is quite frustrating. The principals of the corporation also did not own real estate in the greater Toronto area. We found on principal living in a rental unit on Bathurst street.
There is no question that this corporation and its principals are unscrupulous and need to be stopped. We could try something under what used to be called the Business Practices Act. It would be a prosecution conducted by the Provincial government.
Please note that I do not take class action law suits.
Furthermore, I have concluded that it is not cost effective to take such a case on, even with multiple plaintiffs, given that any judgment might be unenforceable.”
I am currently in discussions with him to see about pursuing them with the Business Practices Act. We still need everyone’s info including invoices. Thank you!