I’ve been on the phone all week talking to people who regretted signing an energy contract. Normally, I get a handful of calls in response to a column. Most people send emails. But in this case, the calls outnumbered the emails by about five to one.
Since energy marketers use door-to-door sales as their preferred tactic, their customers tend to be seniors, stay-at-home parents and those who recently moved. Working outside the home, I’ve never had a salesperson ring my doorbell.
Yesteday, I spoke to three ladies aged 83 to 84 and one caregiver for a lady who’s 93. They’re all angry and confused. One customer thought she was already on a contract, but didn’t know which company she was with and which company got her to sign a new contract.
Of course, they’re finding the high costs hard to bear. Their electricity bills are often double what their neighbours are paying. I doubt anyone in Ontario has saved a penny on electricity by signing a contract since the market was deregulated by former Premier Mike Harris.
One caller had the impression, through all the ads and sales calls he received, that he HAD to sign a contract. There were no other options. He didn’t realize he could stay with his regulated gas utility until he was comparing bills with a neighbour and saw the much lower rate. I wonder how many others think that way.
I’m still sending complaints to each marketer to review. Senior executives often agree to let people out of their contracts without penalty once they see the details.
Universal Energy agreed to release Peter Leschyshyn from his electricity deal without demanding a $700+ termination fee. He had been lied to at the door by a saleswoman he invited into his home on a freezing cold night.
Here’s what this senior (turning 70 this year) said in his original hand-written letter:
I would like to a procedure put in place to keep away door-to-door soliciting, as too many people are disadvantaged by this practice. For example, automobile dealers don’t send their personnel to your house to sell automobiles.
The town of Orangeville owns Orangeville Hydro. That means we the citizens and taxpayers of Orangeville own the hydro. So why would I jeopardize my position to accept a deal from an unknown company and one that does not have a business based in this town?
Please, I’m pleading with you to do something positive for me and my family so I can look back at the year 2007 and get bck the Christmas spirit I lost. May we come to some solution to implement ways to make things better for seniors who worked hard to make this country one of the best in the world.
Please help me make some sense of this. I stay at home and mind my own business and now I find myself involved with an agency that’s bent on (for lack of a better term) pimping my bank account.
Does this sound familiar? His comment about companies that keep grabbing your funds without permission is a popular refrain at blog postings, such as Bell Blues and What is It With Fitness Clubs? This way of doing business shifts power from the payee to the payor. It must be stopped.