As a result of deregulation in the natural gas and electricity industries, consumers can now choose which company they wish to purchase either energy source from. Licenses have been issued to both industries to act as retailers selling both gas and electricity and in many cases the companies will offer both. Consumers can therefore choose to purchase from one of these licensed retailers or to stay with their local utility.
Unfortunately, the BBB has found through its telephone inquiries and complaints that not all of the retailers appearing at your door, or calling on the telephone, are as straightforward in their sales presentation as they should be, and often misrepresent what they are offering, who they are representing, and what the savings could be.
Salespeople with these companies often just announce that they are with “the gas company” or the “electric company” which would lead most consumers to assume that they are with the company they are currently signed up with. This may not be the case. They also often demand to see your current gas bill, which they do not have the authority to do, and the use they make of it is to get your account number so that they can transfer you to their company without your consent.
Savings are said to be a percentage of your gas or electricity bill, but they do not include delivery and other related costs. Your bill is generally composed of four parts, a fixed monthly charge, transportation to the utility, delivery charge, and a gas supply charge. Total transportation charges on average can account for 50% of the total bill. Consumers should be aware that delivery and other related costs are subject to price increases at any time and are not included in the guaranteed or fixed price being offered.
The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips:
1. Do not be rushed into making a decision.
2. Compare offers from other companies offering competition
3. Read and fully understand the terms and conditions of any contract before signing up and assuming obligation. Contracts can bind you for 5-10 years and gas prices may fluctuate during that time.
4. Keep a copy of the agreement or contract for your records. One complaint the BBB regularly hears is that the company did not leave a copy of the contract
For a list of licensed retailers or for any questions you may have about the industry deregulation, contact the Ontario Energy Board at 1-877-632-2727 or view their web site at www.oeb.gov.on.ca.