How to Avoid Unexpected Penalty Fees & Costs

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How to Avoid Unexpected Penalty Fees & Costs

At Consumer Energy Solutions we strive to empower our customers with information they need to make intelligent decisions regarding their electric and gas accounts. The purpose of this article is to bring attention to an issue that seems to be on the increase.

We have been receiving a significant number of reports of “slamming” from our electric and gas suppliers and our customers. Slamming occurs when another electric or gas broker (sales rep) or a supplier, different from the one you currently use, convinces you to switch your service from your current agreement and start a new agreement, causing a breach of your current agreement. This can be done in a very covert way with unethical sales tactics.

For example, one customer told us that an official looking person with a badge said he was from the government and that the company needed to enroll in this governmental program. So they gave “the official” person their electric account number and he enrolled them with another supplier. The next month they had a very high electric bill because they were fined penalty fees for breaching their agreement with their current supplier.

Another example we were told about is someone came into a company and offered a free analysis of their electric bill. This gave them access to the company’s electricity account number. This unscrupulous salesman then switched them to another supplier. The following month, they were assessed early termination fees from their current supplier.

An increase of slamming has been causing some of our customers to incur unexpected penalty fees and costs for breaking their existing contract. They also end up having to spend unnecessary time to correct the change in service. In this article I want to provide you with information to help you avoid this type of unfavorable situation.

Here are some examples of common scenarios that actually occur so you can have your guard up if you receive calls like this.

Customers report sales calls advising them that their agreement with their current supplier ended and the caller’s records do not indicate that the customer has renewed.

There is no way for the caller to know if you renewed your agreement through another supplier or broker. In this case, you can tell the caller you work with Consumer Energy Solutions and must check with them before moving into a new agreement. You can call CES Customer Service at 1-866-263-7808 and Karen or Heather can advise you of your contractual term.

Customers tell the calling salesperson that they are under contract. The salesperson tells the customer there are no early termination fees on their current agreement and offers a renewal agreement.

This salesperson is providing incorrect information. The majority of the agreements that we, CES, execute with our customers would have early termination fees. It is important you confirm this before enrolling in a new agreement. You can tell the caller you work with Consumer Energy Solutions and must check with them before moving into a new agreement. Even if they insist they can get you a “lower rate” with a different supplier than you have, understand that CES has contracts with top suppliers and can provide you with the best pricing available. If you have any questions about your options, call CES Customer Service at 1-866-263-7808 and Karen or Heather can advise you of your contractual obligations and options.

Our CES customers are advising us that they get so many calls they get confused.

This is a simple fix. Advise the non-CES caller(s) to place you on their do not call list as you already have an energy consultant company and you’re under contract. You can always call CES Customer Service at 1-866-263-7808 and Karen or Heather can advise you of your contractual obligations.

The best way to protect yourself from slamming and prevent it from happening to you is to be attentive when dealing with certain electricity marketers, know your rights as an electric/gas customer and act quickly to address any concerns you may have about being slammed.

There are several things we recommend our customers do to avoid being slammed.

  • Be careful when signing any document. Although unintended, your signature on a document may be interpreted as an agreement to switch suppliers.
  • Designate one person in your business that is authorized to make changes to your electric or gas service.
  • Know the name of the electric/gas company (supplier) that provides your electric/gas service and know the terms of your agreement.
  • Energy bill shock!Never sign any document without reading it thoroughly.
  • Know when your contract with your supplier is set to expire. Watch for things like an early termination fee on your electric bill, which may indicate that you’ve been slammed if you haven’t initiated a switch to another supplier. This could happen if a salesperson talked with another person in your company who made the switch. That’s why it’s good to have just one person in charge of your energy choice program. If this happens to you, contact CES Customer Service at 1-866-263-7808 and we’ll guide you through fixing this situation.
  • Notify your supplier immediately if you receive a phone call or notice to “verify” a change in your electric service that you didn’t authorize. They will help you sort this out. Or you can call CES Customer Service to get help sorting it out.
  • Notify your supplier immediately if you fail to receive your regular monthly electric bill or receive an electric bill at your address in someone else’s name. You can also call CES Customer Service and we will help you sort it out.
  • If you place an order online with a supplier, be sure to print the order confirmation page.
  • Read the fine print for the terms and conditions of your service.
  • If you are being visited by a door-to-door rep, ask for identification. Don’t give them your bill or electric or natural gas account number(s).
  • To prevent identity theft, do not share your Social Security number or driver’s license number.

I hope that you have found this information useful and it helps protect you from these unethical practices.

If you feel you may have been slammed or have received any suspicious calls about your electric or natural gas account(s), or have any questions about anything regarding your agreement, please feel free to contact our Customer Service Department. Karen and Heather are here, live, answering the phones and helping customers
Monday – Friday from 8:30-5:00

Just call
866-263-7808

About the Author:

Patrick J. Clouden is the Chief Executive Officer of Consumer Energy Solutions, Inc., one of the nation’s top energy consulting firms. Consumer Energy Solutions was founded in 1999 and represents some of the largest energy suppliers in North America. CES has enrolled over 2.5 million residential and 300,000 commercial customers across the United States and Canada including many Fortune 500 companies.

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