There shouldn’t be a website with instructions on how to get out of these alternative gas and electricity providers contracts or instructions on where to file a complaint. People need to be very careful before signing anything at the door. The wording used in advertising and sales pitches by door-to-door agents can be deceiving. Best to do your homework and check out the company very carefully before taking any action. If you are reading or searching for instructions on how to get out of a contract then that says something about the practices used by some alternative energy providers.
Beware of alternative gas and electricity retailers/marketers going door-to-door
What they are doing by hiring sales agents that go door-to-door is often unethical, but unfortunately not illegal. These gas and electricity providers are licensed by your local government. If you are angry at their door-to-door sales practices, you should also be angry at the government body that licenses the company.
How to cancel and get out of a gas and electricity contract
Canadian residents: You may cancel within the first 10 days of signing or up-to 30 days after you receive the first bill under the new provider. You may cancel for any reason within that cancellation period without any additional cost. Call the company and make sure to speak with a representative and write down your cancellation number.
US residents: You may cancel within the first 3 to 10 days of signing or up-to 30 days after you receive your first bill under your new provider. You may cancel for any reason within the cancellation period without additional cost. Call the company and make sure you speak with a representative and write down your cancellation number.
What if you pass the cancellation period? (for both Canadian and US residents)
- Pay for the cancellation fee according to your contract. (you do not have to pay if there was deception at the point of sale… read e)
- If you don’t pay the cancellation fee, they will send their collection agency after you.
- If you’re a senior citizen or live on government housing or on welfare. You can get out without any cost. Simply call them and tell them just that.
- If you move outside their service area or move into a location where you are not responsible for paying your utility (apartments, condo, parents house, move outside the country). More on this here.
- If you have been approached by a door-to-door sales agent and you felt deceived or mislead and signed the contract, then you may be able to cancel if you were promised you would save money or if the agent identified themselves as your current utility provider or a government body/program. Continue reading 2, 3 and 4.
- Read below (Top 10 Issues Raised By Gas and Electricity Retailer / Marketer), see if there is one or more issues you have encountered. Call the alternative gas and electricity provider to complain and see if you can resolve the problem.
- If you contacted the company and have not resolved the complaint to your satisfaction, contact your local government regulator to file a complaint (list of government regulators are below this page). The government regulator will further advise you and provide information on whether they have authority or jurisdiction in the area of the your complaint. Once a complaint is filed, a communication is sent to the alternative gas and electricity provider with a summary of your complaint and asks for the company’s response. Generally companies have 21 days to respond.
- If you are contacted by the company and get out of their contract, then please speak up. These alternative gas and electricity providers that use deceptive door-to-door sales agents should be punished for their actions. Speaking up will help others not waste their time and energy.
*each of these issues are based on Ontario Consumer Protection Act, 2002. Other provinces and states have them too.
|No Copy of Contract||No copy of existing contract, consumer does not recall signing contract, copy of contract not provided when requested. (phone the company and ask for a copy of the sign contract and a copy the voice confirmation call). They need your sign contract and the confirmation call of the homeowner, if they don’t have one or both, your contract is void and you can get reimbursement.|
|Confirmation||Declined contract on confirmation call, do not recall receiving confirmation call, attempt to confirmation during 10-day cooling off period, person not authorized to confirmation.|
|Renewal||Did not receive renewal package, renewed after cancellation request, misleading renewal notice.|
|Cancellation Request Not Processed||1—2 billing cycles has passed without cancellation, company has no record of cancellation request.|
|Misrepresentation of Identity||Agent claimed affiliation with government, your local gas and electricity provider.|
|Can’t Read or Speak English, Disability, Ignorance, Illiteracy||If the consumer is not reasonably able to protect his or her interests because of disability, ignorance, illiteracy, inability to understand the language of an agreement.|
|Misrepresentation of Price||Agent guaranteed savings, consumer told no fee to cancel, agent compared contract price to only a portion of regulated rate (e.g. highest TOU period)|
|Cancellation Charges||Charge for exiting contract too high, charges unfairly applied (e.g. moving with no service at new location).|
|Signed by Unauthorized Person||Contract signed by family member other than spouse, person who does not reside at the address, unauthorized employee or non-account holder roommate / tenant.|
|Disputed Signature||This is fuard, account holder or spouse’s name signed on contract but is alleged not to be your signature.|
|Illinois file your complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and then file your complaint with The Illinois Attorney General at (800) 386-5438 or visit The Illinois Attorney General’s website at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov||Ontario file your complaint to the Competition Bureau and the Ontario Energy Board.|
|New York/Buffalo file your complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and then file your complaint with The Buffalo Attorney General at (800) 771-7755 or visit The Buffalo Attorney General’s website at www.ag.ny.gov||Manitoba file your complaint to the Competition Bureau and the Public Utilities Board.|
|Michigan file your complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and then file your complaint with The Michigan Attorney General at (517) 373-1140 or toll free 1-877-765-8388 or visit The Michigan Attorney General’s website at www.michigan.gov||Alberta file your complaint to the Competition Bureau and the Alberta Utilities Commission.|
|Ohio file your complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and then file your complaint with The Ohio Attorney General at (614) 466-4986 or toll free 1-800-282-0515 or visit The Ohio Attorney General’s website at www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov||British Columbia file your complaint to the Competition Bureau and the British Columbia Utilities Commission.|
|Indiana file your complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and then file your complaint with The Indiana Attorney General at (317) 232-6330 or toll free 1-800-382-5516 or visit The Indiana Attorney General’s website at www.in.gov|
|Texas file your complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and then file your complaint with The Texas Attorney General at www.oag.state.tx.us|
|For other states in the US – file your complaint with the Federal Trade Commission||For other provinces in Canada – file your complaint to the Competition Bureau|
6 Things You Need To Know
- If you’re a home owner or a small business owner, especially if you’re a new home owner then watch out for these door-to-door alternative gas and electricity sales agents. They may dress up in a cap and uniform and come knocking at your door uninvited with their clipboard in hand. They may make a sales pitch about their company’s cheap gas and electricity rates or what some call a “Price Protection Plan” to save you money on your gas and electricity bills. The truth: I find it hard to believe that some random stranger knocking on my door can save me money. If you know of any please let me know where I can find them.
- If you are 65 years old or older and signed a gas and electricity contract at your door from a gas marketer or an electricity retailer, and if you are currently living in government housing or on welfare then you may cancel your contract without paying any existing fees. Some alternative gas and electricity suppliers might not tell you this.
- You have 10-30 days after signing the contract or within 30 days of receiving your first fill from the new gas and electric provider to cancel your contract without paying any fees.
- For US and Canadian residents, if you move to a place where you don’t pay for gas and electricity (such as an apartment) or move to a location where the company does not provide service then you can get out of the contract without paying any fees. If the alternative gas and electric provider sends you to collections or sends you a letter asking for a cancellation fee, then contact the company and tell them you moved to a place where you don’t pay for utilities or tell them you moved to a location where they don’t provide service.
- Canadian consumers have the right to cancel any contract when there was deception at the point of sale. There are many reasons why you can get out of any contract. Read this Consumer Protection Act, starting from section 14. This law was made for a reason. It is a law that protects any Ontarians from misleading and deceptive sales, so use it. It is your right.
Even if it is a situation of he said/she said, the customer may still have a good case, especially against some alternative gas and electricity providers with bad reputations. The Consumer Protection Act in Ontario says it is an unfair practice for someone (door-to-door sales agents) to make a false representation at the point of sale that cannot be delivered by the company. Other provinces and states have similar protections too.
What happened when you switched back to your local utility for natural gas or electricity? Nothing to worry about, no one will come to your door asking about anything. You might receive a letter from your local gas and electricity providers that you are switching back to them. Your service will not be disrupted whatsoever. There will be no utility personnel sent to your home to install or setup anything.
Do Not Sign Anything At Your Door Before Doing Your Homework
That’s all for now. Good luck and next time DO NOT SIGN anything you don’t understand with any strangers popping up at your front door.