I’m blown away by the response

February 1 2008 by Ellen Roseman

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.

51 comments

  1. Dennis LeBlanc

    Feb 2 2008

    I’ve been selling natural gas and hydro contracts for over 10 years now, all large volume contracts, and I’m sick of all this crap that’s going on in the door to door industry. I just hate it and I could fix it in 10 seconds.

    You have an industry that has been set up to cheat everyone with sky high rates. Most of the time, it’s about 30% highter than what I sell it for. But the main problem is that the only customer they can sell to is a customer who has no idea what he is paying. Then, BY LAW (the Ontario Energy Board code of conduct), they have to call back each and every customer and make sure they understand what they signed.

    That’s where they’re making a mistake. The OEB allows these companies to do their own verification calls — wrong wrong wrong.

    I just had my mother-in-law, who understands very little English and reads even less, sign a contract. Well, I will take them to small claims court and that will be that. The OEB has no teeth. You must take the company to court and fight for your rights. I’m sure less than 5% of the people do this and they count on that.

    If I may help any one out there, please let me know. I so love my job and the people who I sell to. You know, if you sit down face to face and make out a deal, everyone would be happy for years and years and I know this. I’m not an agent for any of these companies and trust me, I’ve gone after most of them. I don’t have to go far and I’ll find someone who needs help.

  2. Andy

    Feb 3 2008

    We live in a condominium, where door to door solicitations are obviously not very remunerative to the resellers.

    However, my wife works for a nonprofit agency that provides a food bank. Some of her clients (almost all of whom are on welfare and many of whom are not native English speakers) have come in with energy contracts that they have apparently agreed to.

    These are people who are faced with thousand of dollars of bills that they don’t understand. And can’t pay.

    It is clear that some kind of oversight is needed to prevent the resellers from taking advantage of people who don’t understand what they are trying to do. And taking advantage of people seems to be their main strategy.

  3. Sonia Macchiusi

    Feb 5 2008

    In response to Dennis’ comment above, I recently enrolled in the Wholesale Energy Group’s energy plan. I was misled from the initial solicitation at the door. I was never told my rates would increase once I signed up for this. They only told me that my rates would be protected for the entire term and that utility prices would increase every 3 months. I assumed I would be protecting my current rates.

    When I received the reaffirmation call, they finally disclosed the rates to me. However, I didn’t have my utility bills handy in order to compare them. I assumed the rates that I was agreeing to were my current ones, as that is what I was led to believe from the initial visit from the company.

    I have spent 4 days now (2 of them at work) trying to find some way to cancel this enrollment without having to pay a hefty $1,300 penalty, which we definitely cannot afford. I have gotten nowhere with the Wholesale Energy Group, even after I contacted them within 24 hours of the reaffirmation call via email and phone asking (pleading with them) to cancel. But of course there is nothing they can do.

    I’m a newlywed and my husband and I are just getting used to paying bills and mortgage. We are not in a financial position to handle the soon to be sky-high utility bills that will be coming to our home. Just as an FYI, my electricity is increasing almost 4 cents a kilowatt hour and my gas is increasing about 10 cents/m3.

    I just want people out there to be aware of these energy marketers, especially the Wholesale Energy Group. From the first interaction with them, they never disclosed the increase in rates.

    Living in a new subdivision, we get these salespeople knocking on our doors daily. I had experienced this type of solicitation before with Superior Energy. However, that sales rep let me know right off the bat that my rates would increase and of course I said no. The Wholesale Energy Group’s sales tactics are unethical and dishonest. They will force you to sign anything. Even after I mentioned that I should take this up with my husband, the rep told me that it was totally legit and this was the best thing I could do. So I signed.

    If anyone can give me some advice on how I can get this cancelled, it would be appreciated. I have already gone to the OEB and submitted a formal complaint, but want to get my story out there to ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

  4. Tracey

    Feb 6 2008

    By coincidence, I was reading this blog today when I got a knock at the door from an energy salesman. I told him firmly that I wasn’t interested and sent him on his way.

    Later, when I left the house, he was still going door to door on my street. Many of my neighbours are seniors living on fixed incomes. While they own their houses, rising taxes and other costs mean they are on tight budgets.

    I heard the salesman telling one of my neighbours that she had to sign a contract or her bills would go up. This is an excellent ploy to trick a trusting senior on a budget into signing a contract.

    I think these sales tactics are predatory and unethical. I would like to see door to door canvassing for energy contracts made illegal.

  5. Agnes Caldwell

    Feb 7 2008

    Back when this first started, I was hardly aware of deregulation and had no plans to change providers. A young man came to the door just at mealtime and implied he was from the gas company, asked to see a bill and got my signature.

    When I realized I had been duped into signing a contract, I blamed myself for being so stupid but also decided I would never again sign a contract for a utility. I endured for the three years I had signed up for (if I had known the contract was illegal it would have been a different story) and then made sure it was cancelled. I didn’t even realize I was paying more. I was just angry at having been signed up by dishonest means.

    The first winter I was off the contract was a cold one and gas prices did shoot up. I confessed to a friend that I might have been foolish to refuse the new fixed price contract. She told me that she was on a contract, prices had been raised anyway and she was paying more than I was.

    Since then, I have had to be plain rude to people at the door to get rid of them. Deregulation has done nothing but give a license to scam artists to fleece the population of Ontario of millions of dollars. I don’t believe any of our provincial governments can be ignorant of this, so I assume they prefer to place the good of crooks over that of citizens.

  6. arvin kana

    Feb 23 2008

    The small cancellation fee of universal energy = $1352.04

    http://arvins.us/0/rfd/ue3.jpg
    http://arvins.us/0/rfd/ue1.jpg
    http://arvins.us/0/rfd/ue2.jpg

  7. Jon

    Feb 23 2008

    So, can I get out of the 5 year contract without paying the penalty fees? Is that my only option? My bills have been $200 to $400 a month and it’s pretty ridiculous, since I live in a townhouse and not a house.

    I barely have the money to pay the bills for gas alone, let alone mortage and all other bills. This is pretty unethical. I would want more advice or info on this. Thank you.

  8. Sonia Macchiusi

    Feb 26 2008

    In response to Jon:

    Hi Jon, I’m still trying to get out of my contract. I just wanted to let you know that my cancellation fees are up to $2,700!This is utterly ridiculous, especially since I’m a new homeowner and this amount of money is not in my budget at all.

    I’m still so bitter about my whole ordeal.

  9. Joe

    Feb 27 2008

    I just had one of these clowns show up tonight at 8 PM. I told him I wasn’t interested in his scam & to leave & then he said “We’re not scamming you, the government is scamming you”. I told him point blank to get off my property or I’d throw his ass off it. Needless to say he left.

    The best way to deal with them is to slam the door. Unfortunately, the elderly do get scammed by this segment of our society. It would be great to see this door to door practice banned & these companies shut down for good. They prey on the people least able to defend themselves. Most pathetic bunch of people alive, as far as I’m concerned.

  10. arvin kana

    Feb 28 2008

    How come there is no lawsuit against this company? There is an unorthodox way of getting out these contracts. A cancellation fee of $2,700? I thought i was worst (mine was $1,352).

  11. Mike

    Mar 7 2008

    So is the answer to just deal with Enbridge?

    We are recent arrivals to Canada (this place is incredible, by the way) and they got her to sign the agreement a few years back (and yes, she doesn’t speak English well).

    But I just got the renewal notice and I’m not sure what to do. Do we just avoid the distributors and stick with the utility itself?

  12. Crusty B

    Mar 8 2008

    http://cheezewhizandmustard.wordpress.com/2007/06/16/universal-energy-scam-and-how-you-can-get-out-of-it/

    Listen to Mrs. Mustard. That’s my plan if Universal Energy Group doesn’t let me off after my tape is reviewed.

    We are not stupid people. We made this mistake because we are trying hard to make a life and provide for our families and are always looking for a helping hand waiting.

    These companies are counting on our honesty and corresponding trust.

    And if I must make this mistake and fight my way out a million times, I will. I will not lose faith in mankind.

    Good luck all.

  13. Bill

    Mar 16 2008

    I have a self-help site here to further educate people on the REAL deal about Univer$al Energy Corporation and their one-a-day-recruits who end up at your door ready to lighten your wallet.

    http://www.freewebs.com/uegscam

  14. lucy maclean

    Mar 31 2008

    Hello: I am just beginning my fight with UE. I will try all the avenues mentioned above. Thank you.

  15. Bill Sithers

    Apr 6 2008

    Ya, check out my site. I have had thousands of hits and many negative responses from the so-called “marketers”. I am helping out these people who got conned into this quick-hand deal.

    Bill

  16. Gwen

    May 24 2008

    I received a phone call from a man from Wholesale Energy Group. Right away, he took charge and asked me questions, assuming we were with Enbridge Gas (we are not). Then he said he needed my account number with Hydro One.

    When I refused, he insisted that I do so, explaining that he must have the account number. He said it was necessary, because the next person who would contact me needed to be sure he had the right person. I hung up on him.

    He called me back promptly, but gave up when my answering machine clicked on.

  17. Sonia Macchiusi

    Jun 5 2008

    Hi everyone, I just wanted to let you know that I was able to get out of my contract with the Wholesale Energy Group.

    I would like to say thank you to everyone who posted on this forum with advice.

  18. Ginette

    Jun 9 2008

    I just received a phone call from Wholesale Energy Group. Just as with Gwen, the lady on the other end took charge. She didn’t ask me questions at first.

    She began to tell me that she was associated with Union Gas and Hydro One, and that in about four months my rates would be fixed. It was difficult to understand her. I had to make her repeat herself a lot. She was simply “informing me” Didn’t once ask me if I was interested in signing up with them…..she wanted to verify my address, name on the bill etc.

    Then I clued in, “oh” I said “you are one of those people who sell rates door to door.” She said “no, we are not” She told me someone was going to call me to confirm in a few days… confirm what?? I didn’t agree to anything!

    I told her that I was moving at the end of the month and she abruptly thanked me and hung up. Now I’m not even sure if I agreed to anything by confirming my address…

    Have things gotten so unruly that a person can agree to a contract without signing anything? She had me so confused between her accent and lying…..Sheesh!!!

  19. Trent

    Jul 4 2008

    I just received a visit from a representative of Superior Energy, asking to see my hydro bill. I asked why and he claimed it was in reference to the new smart meters that were recently installed and to make sure we were “locked in”.

    After I politely said no thanks, he claimed I was misinformed. His visit was not a sales call.

    I asked if he represented Toronto Hydro and was told no. He said he wasn’t trying to sell me anything.

    I have no idea how an organization that is reselling electricity at my front door can claim not to be selling anything. I can smell a BS artist and this certainly smells bad.

  20. Ant

    Aug 1 2008

    So I am in the same situation with Wholesale Energy Group. Their sales person lied about the electricity price to my parents. We also received the contact termination fee letter and I contacted them immediately. They finally agreed to cancel my account because they couldn’t locate the confirmation phone call voice record. And guess what, one month later I found my self still with Wholesale Energy Group. I made many (> 100) phone calls to their customer service line. It’s always busy and the only option is to leave message. NO ONE returned any of my call. I guess I am on their black list.

    And TorontoHydro, they are ridiculous too. I just wanted to switch my account to original supplier (I think the original supplier is TorontoHydro) and they told me I can’t do so. So Wholesale Energy Group can do anything they want to my account, and I can’t! WTH.

    so, Sonia Macchiusi, could you please tell me how do you get out of their contract?

  21. Sharron

    Aug 15 2008

    I am in a similar situation with Wholesale Energy Group and was misled from the start.

    I explained to the marketer that I was already under contract with Ontario Energy Savings and would have to check to see if I would be subjected to penalties for switching. She lied and said I wouldn’t, but that I would have the opportunity to decline when I received a second confirmation call.

    I didn’t ever receive a second confirmation call from Wholesale, but they went ahead and processed the contract anyway. Now I’m getting nasty letters from a collection firm for Ontario Energy Savings, saying I owe exit fees.

    To top it off, I just discovered the reason I haven’t been able to contact Wholesale for the past month is that their parent company went bankrupt and they have been taken over by Universal Energy. I’m now waiting for a call from Universal Energy.

    This has been a nightmare, to say the least, and I think these tactics are unethical and should be made illegal. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  22. Sharron

    Aug 19 2008

    Thanks Ellen. I spoke with an individual at Universal Energy this morning and explained my situation. She informed me that with the recent takeover, they are currently reviewing the files of Wholesale Energy customers. She said she would get back to me in approximately one week.

  23. Angela

    Jan 9 2009

    Hey Guys..

    I had a contract with Universal Energy 3 years ago. I separated from my husband and left our home. I thought my contract was concelled with them.

    Three years later, I just receive a phone call today from a collection agency. I have no choice but to pay the cancellation fee now 3 years later.

    So if you happened to think you have gotten out of your contract, you might want to think about it again because they will come after you years later.

  24. Julia

    Jan 25 2009

    Superior Energy door salesmen are at it again. This time in Leaside (Toronto), my 85 year old mother-in-law was scammed at the door.

    The sales agent was not wearing a uniform, no ID, just demanded to see her utility bills. She felt very intimidated by him. He told her to initial papers that she couldn’t even read (small print) and said that it was necessary to keep her electricity and gas supply!

    We have tried to fax and otherwise contact Superior Energy. No luck. We have now sent a registered letter to them within the 10 day cancellation window. If we don’t hear back really soon, we’re going to their office to have a confrontation.

    What a waste of everyone’s time!!

  25. Wil

    Jan 27 2009

    My girlfriend is a nursing student in Barrie and she and her roomates got duped by a door to door guy from the Wholesale Energy Group on their second month there. He told them that he was not a salesman just a consumer advocate compiling a list of people in the building who wanted information on saving on their hydro bill. By showing him what charges they received for their first month on their utility bill he could definitely get an estimate of what real savings they would get. My girlfriend being the account owner was asked to verify how to spell her name so that they could send her an information package and to agree to receive the information by signing her name.

    After that they received their next bill which was already higher. Sinnce she and her roomates had moved out for the first time on their own they didn’t think it was strange that they were receiving $175-$200 hydro bills for a small 3 bedroom apartment with a completely unused living room.

    She doesn’t remember ever having received a phone call and the only reason she knows anything about it know is because she moved out to a cheaper place and cancelled her hydro. She received a letter in the mail asking for her new address or to pay the Termination fee of $900+

    That’s when she found out she had gotten scammed. They tried to put her off by saying that the Wholesale Energy Group was bought out by Universal Energy and that it would take an indefinite amount of time to get the information and that it would be best to pay it now and they could investigate afterwards.

    I asked her to let me investigate it a bit and thats when I discovered how many people have been literally robbed at their front doors. I have since contacted Universal and asked for a copy of the contract and of the voice recording. Just to make sure I called back 20 minutes later and quizzed a different CSR on the details of my last call. That person only requested the paper contract and they never took down the address I gave them to send it to. The new CSR said she added the ‘new’ notes to the account. I will be calling them back tomorrow to check if they really did this time.

    If anyone has any other advice it would be greatly appreciated. Wish us luck.

  26. Wil

    Jan 27 2009

    I forgot to mention…does it make sense for 3 nursing students who need to be in Barrie for only 1.5 years and then back to Toronto to be signing a 5 year contract?

    I wish they would have to pay for the amount of stress they have inflicted on all these people’s lives…

    The only small consolation for other victims of Universal Energy is that the OEB wants to fine them $200,000.

    Honestly though, from the amount of posts I’ve seen multiplied by the months of extra bills and finally the amounts for termination fees $200,000 is still not enough.

    But I hope some people feel empowered by this.

  27. Julia

    Jan 27 2009

    Wil,
    Write to the company president, send it by registered mail, and outline the whole way the deal came about. Send a copy to the OEB and one to your lawyer. Your sister was tricked and these people should not get away with it.
    Oh, and make sure you send the prez a copy of the letter you wrote to the previous company dated right after the original contract signing, asking for cancellation (there is a 10 day window to cancel).

  28. Julia

    Jan 27 2009

    This is my last comment on this. When I went to the post office to send the registered letter requested contact cancellation, the clerk looked at the address and right away said, “You trying to get out of a contract too?”

    When I asked her how she knew that, she said, and I’m not kidding, “I’ve had four other people, all elderly, in the last 24 hours, in here sending letters to the same company”.

    And finally, the woman next to me in line overheard the conversation, and told us how she too had been scammed the same way a few months back. C’mon OEB, take notice!!

  29. Michele

    Feb 6 2009

    I also was the victim of a scam by Universal Power and Universal Energy.

    On a freezing cold night in March, the salesman practically forced his way into our home, making us believe he was with our current utility. He seemed genuinely surprised we had not signed up for this price protection program and made us believe it was our local utility offering it.

    We have been with the company for 2 years now and after some serious number-crunching decided to bite the bullet and pay the $778.56 penalty and cancel the contract.

    We paid $120 more this month alone by being with this company than if we were paying the local utility fees.

    I realize not everyone is in a position to do this and I certainly hope something is done about this type of blatant scamming. I did not do any research on how to cancel the contract prior to doing it (now I wish I would have, especially if it really is as easy as changing the name on your bills).

    I have filed a complaint with the OEB, but they were less than helpful. The agent basically told me it was my own fault (I know this, thank you) and they have no control over the practices of this company.

    I find it truly pathetic, yet typical, that the governing body will turn a blind eye.

  30. Furious

    Feb 20 2009

    Some good news. If you visit the Ontario Energy Board website, look under Press Releases, and you will see that on Jan 21, 2009 they issued orders for $$$ Administrative Penalties against both Universal Energy and Summit Energy for ” Contracts with consumers who were subject to non-compliant practices have been cancelled and those consumers have been reimbursed.” Maybe it IS worth contacting the OEB with your complaint. They have an online complaints page, as well as a customer service line.

  31. alex

    Mar 11 2009

    Here is my exeperience with Wholesale Energy/Universal:

    – An unsuspecting family member signed a contract at the door with Wholesale Energy in response to the usual dishonest pitch: “I am just checking your electricity bill to make sure you are receiving the savings that you are entitled to. All the neighbours have done so. blah blah blah”.

    – The same day I called the company to explicitly decline the contract.

    – A few days later, they called again and I reiterated that I did NOT want the contract. I thought the matter over.

    – Then some time later, I discovered they hijacked my electricity bill anyway.

    – At my request, they provided me with the “reaffirmation call”. It turns out they disregarded my calls where I explicitly, “no-doubt-about-it”, declined their contract. They kept on calling my phone number until it was answered by someone else. In the recording, they do mention the contract, but very quickly, and then proceed to lengthy verification of the billing address.

    I would like the Ontario Energy Board to answer: Why are those companies allowed to use confirmation from somebody other than the person paying the bill?

  32. Janet

    Mar 19 2009

    Thank you to everyone for sharing their comments. I made the mistake this evening of giving a representative of Universal Energy the time of day and thought I was being smart by hiding the costs with masking tape on my gas and electricity bills.

    Now this evening after reading the horror stories online about the unethical practices of Universal, I got nervous that she may have seen my name and just wrote up an application anyway without my consent.

    I quickly drafted an email to Universal customer service, stating my displeasure with their sales tactic and clearly stating that I did not agree to any contract or services and if I find myself under contract that it was done without my consent, copying both Enbridge and Toronto Hydro on the email. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this will be the end of it.

    I did read a message online from someone who suggested that if you find yourself scammed by Universal, simply call your gas or hydro company and cancel your account and then have someone else in the household set up a new account in their name. They said there would be a few calls from Universal for payment, but that would be the end of it. Not sure if it will work, but sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.

    I highly recommend that in the case of Universal…forget your Canadian politeness and simply slam the door in their face…I wish I had have done that.

  33. Mar Vin deMartian

    Mar 21 2009

    20 minutes ago, I had a rep from Summit Energy come knocking at my door.

    As a rule, I never buy anything at my front door, and when I refused to show him my bill, he became very agitated, told me I didn’t understand how the system works, and stormed off. It sounds like I did exectly the right thing.

    Shame on you Ontario Energy Board! How do these people/companies get licenses in such a clearly flawed system?

  34. Elle H

    May 6 2009

    You might find this latest business practice of Superior Energy interesting. It doesn’t involve door-to-door, but it starts with a letter they send with an incentive to renew…

    In October 2008, Superior Energy offered an incentive cheque if I would renew for 5 years for natural gas supply. I agreed verbally (over the phone with one of their agents) to enroll in exchange for the incentive cheque.

    Today, May 6/09, they have not mailed the cheque and advise I’m bound to their contract (8 cents/kwh higher than the rate they’re offering now) and cannot terminate the contract without paying a $652 penalty.

    They further advised me they don’t have to follow through on incentives they offer. They have the right to offer incentives, but don’t have to deliver.

    To sum it up, they offer bribes, secure verbal agreements over taped phone lines, then refuse to deliver incentives.

    When I told them their business practices were unethical, I was told by Sandy (Management, Customer Services) at 905-285-2481 that they don’t have to deliver incentives.

    Absolutely amazing that such corrupt business practices are permitted in this country.

    Currently the Ontario Energy Board is involved, but Sandy said they don’t have the authority to overrule Superior Energy’s decision (to force cheated consumers into agreements).

    At this point, I can only highly encourage others to STAY AWAY FROM SUPERIOR ENERGY. They will promise you an incentive, lock you in at a high rate, refuse to deliver the incentive and attempt to force you to pay a penalty to terminate the contract. Absolutely disgusting.

  35. Anna L

    Jun 14 2009

    I have been feeling sick for days, after receiving a threatening letter from the collection agency employed by Universal Energy Corp.

    I apparently now “owe” them $1,226.61 for not honouring my contracts (for natural gas & hydro).

    I regret with all my being the day I was bullied into signing those contracts. I was one of the new homeowners you referred to, Ellen, and very naive.

    I was preparing to leave for Toronto from my little home in southwestern Ontario. After a very aggressive salesman made me feel that I’d be an idiot not to sign, since all my neighbours had done so, I remember feeling very worried, and in a sense, violated.

    I never did read the fine print of the lengthy contract. I did realize that my bills went up after signing, but just tried not to think about it.

    Now, almost 2 years later, my circumstances have changed, and I have rented out my house. My tenant pays her own utilities. I’m staying at a friend’s place for the summer, then plan to go overseas with my new teaching certificate.

    I don’t have accounts of my own, so Universal is bent on punishing me for not honouring the contracts. When I called, an extremely rude man told me i had 2 options: pay up or get my tenant to sign 5-year contracts. He LIED!!!!!

    I pointed out to him that I had already been informed that I had the option of starting new accounts and continuing my contracts from where I’d left off (if I did so promptly, before June 17th), and then billing my tenant. He agreed, but only when I brought it up…

    Now, however, I realize that this is a horrible option, since I refuse to ask my tenant to pay more (a LOT more)for her utilities, so I’d have to go to the trouble each time of calculating the difference, and paying that difference. In the end, I may even pay more than the $1,226.61 !!!!!

    Please HELP!! What should I do? Does anyone out there have advice??

  36. Myrtle

    Jul 21 2009

    I had just moved into my first apartment, and this was the first time I had to pay my own Hydro. I had a salesman come to my door in January 2009.

    He said he was giving out Hydro refunds due to the Smart Meter installations. He asked to see my Hydro bill, which I got for him. Then he asked me to sign for the refund, but would not let me see the paper. It was very lengthy and I told him I would need to read it first. He said he would only give me a copy to read after I signed it.

    I got suspicious, since the paper did not have “Toronto Hydro” written on it. I told him that I was not signing it without reading. He refused to return my Hydro bill and actually took off! I could not physically chase him to get my Hydro bill back.

    I called Toronto Hydro the next business day to report that someone had taken off with my bill and that I didn’t know who/what company this was. I said that I had not signed anything but was worried that someone had stolen my bill. Toronto Hydro said they could not change my account number.

    Then in June, my Toronto Hydro bill said my energy supplier was Universal Energy. I later received a letter and a cheque from Universal Energy, thanking me for signing a 5-year contract in January. (Why send the update letter 6 months later?!)

    I called Universal Energy, which claimed they had a contract with my signature on it, plus a recorded call on Feb. 2nd, where I agreed to such a contract. I did not sign, nor did I have any discussion with anyone on the phone! I am so outraged at the blatant lying!

    I asked to hear this recorded phone conversation. The representative put me on hold while he went away to listen to it by himself. When he came back, I asked him to mail this recording to me. He said, “Oh, it doesn’t really sound like you. Were you sick in February when we called?” Those were his EXACT words!

    I live alone, so only I could have answered, and I have only a cellphone. He said that since the call definitely did not sound like me, he wouldn’t bother mailing me a copy of the recording.

    His solution was for me to fax a copy of my government identification, so he could check my signature on the contract. But why should I trust them to verify my signature, when their shady salesperson had probably forged it in the first place? I am not comfortable with mailing this unknown company more of my personal identification.

    I called the Ontario Energy Board to investigate, but the man didn’t seem willing to help, and recommended I get a copy of the contract first.

    I also checked my cellphone bill from February. There are NO phone calls in or out on Feb. 2nd, nor any unknown phone number calls during that week.

    So I called Universal Energy and asked them to fax me a copy of the contract that I’d allegedly signed. The representative said they would send it in 5 – 15 business days.

    When I said I did not sign any contract or have any record of their call, the rep said they could not take my cell phone bill as proof. The rep claimed I must’ve signed the contract as they had my Hydro bill (which I explained was literally stolen by the salesman) and my email address – which was incorrect. My name is actually misspelled on the Toronto Hydro bill from which they copied my information.

    How can they lie about having a signed contract and a taped telephone call with my agreement? How do I fight this?

  37. ANDREA

    Sep 17 2009

    I AM CURRENTLY TRYING TO GET OUT OF MY CONTRACT WITH UNIVERSAL ENERGY.

    I CONTACTED MY MP’S OFFICE AND THEY ARE ASSISTING ME WITH IT. SEE IF IT WORKS FOR ANYONE ELSE. THEY ARE WORKING ON MY BEHALF.

    MY HYDRO BILL THIS MONTH WAS $353 FOR A SMALL 2 BEDROOM HOUSE!

  38. Arlene

    Oct 19 2009

    My question: Has anyone ever been sued by these energy companies for not paying the cancellation fee?

    We have been having a similar problem with Superior Energy but we refuse to pay.

  39. sunny

    Dec 30 2009

    Dear Mr. Dennis LeBlanc,
    It seems you are positive about your job on natural gas and hydro contracts sales, so could you please email me any more information?

    My email: sunnyday20092009@gmail.com

    I have two purposes:

    The first is to see how you can help people for real, since I don’t know what company you are working for.

    The second is to see whether your company is still hiring. I am looking for a job like yours but I don’t like to cheat or annoy customers.

    I appreciate your response very much.

    Sunny

  40. Watching the detectives

    Jan 3 2010

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/andrew-steele/watching-the-detectives/article1163346/

    From June 2009:

    The Ontario Tories’ leadership race continues to get more divisive. The latest salvo is an anonymous attack on Frank Klees from quarters unknown, under the psuedonym “Tory Detective.”

    The allegation is a serious one: that Mr. Klees is on the board of a company fined $200,000 by the Ontario Energy Board for making false and misleading statements.

    Mr. Klees was considered the best performer in the leadership debates, a wily blend of Brian Mulroney and Ernie Eves. He’d better keep it up. It will take every ounce of Irish Blarney and double-E slickness he can muster to explain away these claims.

    The e-mail read as follows:

    From: Tory Detective

    To: torydetective@yahoo.ca

    Subject: Frank Klees: Business Experience & Judgement? Uh oh….

    Someone is walking the walk, but not talking the talk.

    Frank Klees wants Ontario PC Party members to believe that he should be elected leader due to his “business experience”. But it looks like Frank’s business experience may not be quite the positive attribute he once thought it was. And judgement? Well…

    Frankie sits on the Board for Universal Energy Group and is a member of the Audit Committee for the company. He even chairs the Compensation and Governance Committee.

    As reported by the Toronto Star earlier this year, that same company – Universal Energy Group – was fined $200,000 by the Ontario Energy Board for making “false, misleading or deceptive statements to consumers.”

    A copy of the order (which isn’t the first time) can be found here.

    And another one in April (wasn’t there a Leadership going on then?).

    And the people are some angry. Victims of the “Universal Energy Scam” can be found talking about their experiences.

    Frank doesn’t just sit on the Board. Universal Energy CEO Mark Silver, through his company, OPTUS Capital Corporation, made the single biggest donation to Frank’s campaign: a whopping $34,000 – about 20% of his entire campaign.

    Frank’s campaign even reported the donation in the real-time donor disclosures to Elections Ontario.

    Wow. Frank’s “business experience” seems to entail managing an energy company ripping off old ladies door-to-door. Judgement, indeed.

    Hope you find this enlightening.

  41. Dennis LeBlanc

    Dec 2 2010

    Just sat down and started seeing all the hardships. There are some good energy companies and most of the bad have been bought up. But on the whole, the industry is looking a whole lot better than it did in 2008.

    I am very happy to see this. I’m sorry, but i should have posted my email address back in 2008 and I might have been able to help all of you with a phone call or two.

    If any people are having problems with any of the energy companies, drop me a line to your_energy_online@hotmail.com. And my name is again Dennis LeBlanc and I’m very happy to speak on your behalf.

  42. Shiraz

    Dec 26 2010

    I signed up with Canada Energy Wholesalers @ 7 cents for electricity but have been paying a provincial benefit.

    What’s the point of fixing a rate if i am paying over 10 cents?

    I would like to cancel (joined in January 2010) but am worried about the cancellation charge. Please advise.

  43. John

    Mar 11 2011

    I’ve heard that if you disconnect your electricity, and sign up in someone else’s name (maybe a roomate or boyfriend/girlfriend), your rates will revert back to the provincially regulated ones. They may try to phone and collect the money you ‘owe’ them, but as long as you screen your calls properly, you should be home free.

    I’m tempted to try this myself, since I made the mistake of signing a contract.

  44. rick damon

    Mar 28 2011

    I SIGNED UP MY HOME AND BUSINESS 11 YRS AGO AND SAVED `$$$$ . YOU PAY MORE AT FIRST BEFORE THE SAVINGS KICKING IN I WISH I COULD GET FIXED RATES ON EVERYTHING SMARTENUP PEOPLE TELL ME SOMETHING THAT STAYS THE SAME PRICE FOR 5 YRS.

  45. Colin

    May 28 2012

    Does anyone know if I will get sued if I refuse to pay the discharge fee?

  46. Richard H

    Mar 6 2013

    I was in the door to door business for 5 and a half years and I will say this, there were times that I made an unethical statement, but 95% of the time I told the truth so consider this my retribution and paying back what I owe…

    There is a very easy way to get out of an energy contract if you want, as long as you are with Direct Energy or Just Energy and because they used unethical tactics at the door you can fight fire with fire…

    No person over the age of 65 can be on an energy contract! The great thing about this is that they do NOT put your age in their system so simply call the company and claim you are 65 or over. No harm, no foul, no termination fee!

    They will ask if you would like a lower rate and send you a mandatory “out clause” letter. DO NOT PAY IT!!! It’s a last ditch attempt to swindle money from you.

    I, personally, have gotten many individuals off these contracts so I know this works.

  47. Carrie Francis

    May 1 2013

    We were pushed into a contract with Just Energy and were lied to about certain aspects of contract.

    Does calling and and saying you are over 65 really work to get out of your contract?

  1. Universal Energy Corporation Scam | KeyFrame5