N.S. woman gets $12K refund from water company under scrutiny by province

Natalie Lent has received a full refund for nearly $12,000, following nine months of fighting for her money back with Atlantic Environmental Systems.  (Angela MacIvor/CBC  - image credit)
Natalie Lent has received a full refund for nearly $12,000, following nine months of fighting for her money back with Atlantic Environmental Systems. (Angela MacIvor/CBC - image credit)

A Nova Scotia woman who filed a complaint with the province about a door-to-door water systems company has received a full refund.

It comes nine months after Natalie Lent first agreed to the sale with Atlantic Environmental Systems. She alleges the three units she bought for nearly $12,000, including a reverse-osmosis system and water softener, never worked properly.

"I am absolutely relieved because I didn't think anything positive would come out of this nine-month ordeal," Lent said.

A CBC News investigation revealed the Dartmouth-based company is at risk of losing its sales permit in Nova Scotia following a series of complaints from Lent and others for aggressive, high-pressure tactics. A hearing was held in May and Service Nova Scotia is expected to make a decision in the coming weeks.

Danny Goldman is the owner of Atlantic Environmental Systems, based in Dartmouth, N.S. He also operates Maritime Home Services in P.E.I., which recently had its sales licence revoked.
Danny Goldman is the owner of Atlantic Environmental Systems, based in Dartmouth, N.S. He also operates Maritime Home Services in P.E.I., which recently had its sales licence revoked.

Danny Goldman is the owner of Atlantic Environmental Systems, based in Dartmouth, N.S. He also operates Maritime Home Services in P.E.I., which recently had its sales licence revoked. (Facebook)

Owner Danny Goldman declined an interview, citing ongoing discussions with regulatory bodies. But in a statement to CBC he said he "did not agree in any fashion with Ms. Lent's complaints."

"However, as this sale had been made by a salesperson who is no longer with Atlantic Environmental Systems, and because no current member of our team could independently confirm or refute her prior various claims, we decided that the best course of action would be to remove all of our products, fully cancel the sales agreement, and reimburse Ms. Lent, all at our own expense," said Goldman in a statement.

Lent said on the day of the installation in July 2023, she asked the crew to stop their work and remove the systems when they didn't answer her questions. She said rather than stopping, more technicians came into her home and finished the installation. Phone records show she called the main office of Atlantic Environmental Systems four times that day.

She told CBC in an interview in February the system was "a very expensive ornament."

The company came back to test her water twice and sent the results to a third-party lab. Although Goldman insists the systems were shown to be working properly, Lent said her water remained cloudy and had a strong sulfur smell.

Natalie Lent's tap water was still cloudy and smelly, despite having a reverse-osmosis system hooked up in her kitchen. The system was recently removed and she received her money back.
Natalie Lent's tap water was still cloudy and smelly, despite having a reverse-osmosis system hooked up in her kitchen. The system was recently removed and she received her money back.

Lent's tap water was still cloudy and smelly, despite having a reverse-osmosis system hooked up in her kitchen. The system was recently removed and she received her money back. (Galen McRae/CBC)

She said she found the refund timing "pretty interesting" because she was issued a cheque just days before Goldman's hearing with the province.

"I don't know if that was, you know, something that had a factor on the whole situation, but up until then he was adamantly refusing to do anything at all about it," said Lent.

She said Goldman requested her to be a witness on his behalf, which she declined. She agreed to write a letter outlining that she is happy Goldman "made the right decision."

History of complaints

Atlantic Environmental Systems had its sales licence revoked in P.E.I. last August. The company appealed that decision and lost in April.

In Nova Scotia, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued an alert for a pattern of complaints alleging the company uses "high pressure sales tactics particularly targeting senior citizens" and does not clearly or transparently notify customers about its policies.

It also cited concerns that Atlantic Environmental allegedly conducts poor after-sales service "with the intention to surpass the cancellation window date."

As of April, RCMP in Nova Scotia had received 23 complaints of suspected fraud involving a company selling water treatment products. No charges were laid.

"The evidence gathered by RCMP officers did not meet the elements or threshold for Fraud or other criminal code offences but rather appeared to be more of a civil case/litigation," said Const. Dominic Laflamme in an email statement.

Laflamme would not confirm whether the water company in question is Atlantic Environmental Systems.

Atlantic Environmental Systems is a water filtration company based in Dartmouth, N.S.
Atlantic Environmental Systems is a water filtration company based in Dartmouth, N.S.

Atlantic Environmental Systems is a water filtration company. (Angela MacIvor/CBC)

Now that Lent does not have a water filtration system in her home, she is cautious about where to turn for help.

"It's really challenged me as far as who I trust," she said. "There are lots of companies out there, but who do I trust and who do I not?"

For now, she continues to haul bottled water and use it for drinking and cooking.

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