1. What are energy retailers or marketers?
Energy retailers are deregulated natural gas and electricity suppliers. Unlike regulated natural gas and electricity suppliers that can only profit from the delivery charge. A deregulated natural gas and electricity supplier can charge you whatever they want for natural gas and electricity.
Here’s how it work:
If you move into a new location you will get your natural gas and electricity from your local utility supplier in variable rate.
[Regulated local utility supplier (variable rate)] -> [You]
Energy retailers are private companies license by your local government, you must enroll with them, usually in 1-5 years fixed-rate or variable rate. This is how you get your natural gas and/or electricity if you enroll with an energy retailer.
[Regulated local utility supplier (variable rate)] -> [Energy retailers + Deregulated (fixed &/or variable rate)] -> [You]
An energy retailer is a private company, it is NOT affiliate or associate with any government body or any government program and there is no guarantee savings if you chose to sign up with any energy retailers.
2. What energy retailers offer?
Energy retailers sell fixed-rate or variable rate gas and electricity to residential homes, commercials and industrials. The fixed-rate offers a Piece of Mind or Insurance that the rate on your natural gas or electricity is fixed at the same price throughout the life of your contract, some calls this “Price Protection Plan” that locks you in at the same price.
What they don’t want you to know – their fixed-rate or “Price Protection Plan” will most likely cost more than your local regulated gas and electricity suppliers. Sometimes double what you should be paying if you were to stay with your regulated suppliers.
Here’s an example chart.
3. Will you save money on a “Price Protection Plan” by locking in your price for natural gas and electricity?
There is no guarantee savings if you sign-up.
4. Why door-to-door sale agents asking to see your natural gas and electricity bills?
Door-to-door sale agents will come uninvited knocking on your door asking to see your natural gas or electricity (hydro) bills because they need your account number from your bill to switch your supplier. The door-to-door sale agents also wanted to see if you are already enrolled with the company or enrolled with another deregulated natural gas and electricity supplier.
You are in no way obligated to show any door-to-door agents anything. Think of your account number on your gas and electricity bills as your credit card number. Your account numbers on your bills are personal information and you do not have to show door-to-door agents or anyone anything.
Also, you do not have to sign a contract as the door-to-door agents may imply. You have the option to switch to any alternative gas and electricity suppliers should you choose to do so. If you do not sign at your door, you will continue your gas or electricity services without any interruption.
5. Things door-to-door sale agents might say to misled you to show them your bills
The general intent sale agents approach is mild intimidation designed to play on the ignorance of many consumers who may feel that something is indeed wrong with your bill/service or trying to prove you will get a better deal if you sign with the company. Here are some of the things door-to-door sale agents may say to mislead you to get you to show them your bills:
- “To save you money on your natural gas and electricity.”
- “To see if you’re qualify for green energy.”
- “Check if you to see if you have green pipes coming in your home.”
- “Checking if “the company name” is on your bills.”
- “Checking or looking for something.”
- “You need to sign to continue your gas and electricity services.”
- “Agents are there to collect petition.”
- “To see if you’re getting a rebate or qualify for a discount.”
- “To see if you are saving on your gas and electricity.”
- “Agents are your provider and need to check your bill.”
- “Want to get you on a single bill.”
- “Sent by your local government or a reputable consumer group to check for something.”
- “Checking your bills to see if you’re registered for Electricity or Natural Gas Price Protection Program.”
- “To see if you qualify for electricity/natural gas Price Protection Program.”
- “Your current gas and electricity provider is going out of business and you need to switch.”
- “There are mandatory changes to your natural gas/electricity bill and need to see your bills.”
- “Your current provider is going out of business and you need to sign with them to have your gas and electricity service undisrupted.”
All the above are misleading statements designed to play on the ignorance of many home or business owners.
6. Why energy retailers only hires independent/outsource sales agents?
Energy retailers love to utilize door-to-door sales as their sale agents are independent/outsource contractors. Each independent contractor must sign a contract stating their independent contractors are responsible for everything.
7. How independent/outsource sale agents get paid?
Door-to-door sale agents are paid base on 100% commission. The sale agents also get cash, rewards, trips and electronics. The sale agents’ interests are not you or the homeowners, their interest is their commission.
The agents are usually young, door-to-door sale agents have a history of deceitful behaviors. Some agents are not truthful – they are deceiving, misleading and pushy. Do not believe anything these sale agents have to say. If the agents say – “you will be saving money” or they were sent by the government or sent from your local regulated utility provider and they wanted you sign something. Make sure you read what you are signing, don’t just take their words and if you don’t understand. Don’t Sign.
8. Why is there a cheque or MasterCard from the utility?
If you receive a cheque or a MasterCard, do not cash the cheque or use the MasterCard. If you cash the cheque or used their MasterCard, you will automatically enroll with the company for 5 years or automatically renew your gas or electricity contract for another 5 years. This is called Negative Option. Make sure you read the fine print on the cheque or the MasterCard before using it.
9. Do not sign a 5 years contract at your door without doing your homework
When was the last time you sign a 5 years contract at your door with a stranger? Some people feel iffy with 1 year contract.
Before signing a long-term contract with any sale agent at your door, you should compare prices in your area, see here.
For Ontario consumers, check out Ontario Energy Board’s website with calculators to compare how much it will cost if you switch. natural gas calculator and electricity (hydro) calculator.
Other states and provinces, compare gas and electricity prices here.
10. Read the contract – make sure the contract is consistent with what the sale agent told you
Make sure you understand the contract before you sign it, because sale agent rely on uninformed consumers.
For example, if the agent told you about 100% green energy, make sure somewhere in the contract it says you will get 100% green energy. If the agent told you about saving money, that is a LIE, there is no guarantee savings.
11. Why energy retailers have to call you after you sign the contract?
After you sign a contract at the door there is a follow-up call after 10 days you sign the contract, this is a regulatory requirement in Canada. As any door-to-door sale over $50 need to call you to reaffirmed the deal after ten days (buyers remorse), you may cancel when they phone you or you may confirm the deal.
12. What if you change your mind after you sign?
You have 10 days after you sign the contract and 30 days after you received your first bill without paying any cancellation fees.
Your natural gas and electricity services will continue without any interruption if you decide to cancel within the first 10 days or 30 days after you received your first bill.
13. How much is the cancellation fee?
If you pass your 10 days of signing the contract and pass 30 days of receiving your first bill, the cancellation fee for early termination is:
Electricity = $50-$75 per year remaining for electricity contract
Natural Gas = $50 – $100 per year remaining for natural gas.
At anytime there will be no interruption to your services if you decide to cancel. No one will show up at your door to install or setup anything.
14. How to cancel gas and electricity contracts?
You may call by phone, email, and fax or send letter the old fashion.
The quickest method is to call. If you call and are you directed to voice activation asking you to leave your message. Make sure you call back to speak with one of company’s representative.
When you speak to one of the representative on the phone. Make sure to ask for their name and your cancellation number. Write that down, just in case they forget to cancel your account.
More information on how to cancel.
15. What if you move or sold your home?
If you sold your home and moved to a new location without notifying the compnay. The company will automatically send you to collection without any notice even if you paid your previous utility bills in full.
The collection agency will contact you asking for the cancellation fee. What they doesn’t tell you is – you do not have to pay for their ridiculous cancellation fee.
You do not have to pay any early termination fee or any cancellation fees with the following:
1) If you moved to a new location outside the company service area.
2) If you moved to a new location where you no longer responsible for paying your gas and electricity (your name is no longer on the gas and electricity bills). Example, moved to an apartment.
3) Only the utility account holder or other specified by regulation can sign a contract for a household. The account holder (the name(s) on the utility) is allowed to sign the contract and the account holder must reaffirm over the phone. The company needs the sign contract and reaffirmation with the account holder. If one or both is missing, the contract is void and dull, and there is no contract. You can get reimbursement.
4) You do not have to pay any cancellation: If there was false, misleading or deceptive representation at the point of sale and consumer is not reasonably able to protect his or her interests because of disability, ignorance, illiteracy, inability to understand the language of an agreement or similar factors. More info about this here.
16. Why should you sign up for fixed-rate gas and electricity prices?
There is only one reason to join a fixed-rate program.
1) You prefer a fixed-rate so you can budget for your future expenses.
Do not sign thinking you will be saving money.
17. Where to file a complaint against an energy retailer?
Contact your state or provincial government energy regulator to file a formal complaint. The government energy regulator in your region will review you complaint if retailer broke any code of conduct or regulations.
See a list of your local government energy regulator in Canada and US click here.
The government energy regulator has the power to revoke, fine or suspend license for breaking the rules.