April 29 2008 by Ellen Roseman
Let’s talk about how this giant home services company treats its customers with disdain. Let’s see if we can turn that into delight.
Direct Energy is keen to sign you up and reluctant to release you from its ever-present contracts, which are automatically renewed for another year if you don’t remember to opt out.
Take Murray Wagman, who has subscribed to their furnace protection plan for years. When he came home from vacation in January to a freezing house, Direct Energy couldn’t send a technician until the following day. It guarantees service within 24 hours. Does that mean service at the end of 24 hours? Apparently so, in his case (details below).
Or take Philip Davson, whose son had a nasty experience with a Direct Energy sales agent at the door. The 20-year-old university student, home for a holiday, was bullied into showing the household’s gas and electricity bills and signing contracts. He didn’t know the agent was working for Universal Energy at the same time and surreptitiously slipping him duplicate contracts to sign (see below).
Communicating with the company is a nightmare, people tell me. They can’t get through to anyone in authority. They can’t get their calls returned or their emails answered. Even when they’re promised a correction to their bills, the overcharging continues for months on end.
What makes things even worse is that Direct Energy doesn’t bill customers directly for most services. It relies on the utilities to do the dirty work and take the blame. I can’t tell you how many readers complain about Enbridge Gas, for example, when the fault belongs to Direct Energy. Customers spend a lot of their precious energy going after the wrong target.
This company needs to pull up its socks and show it cares. I want to see real concern for customers, not just a flurry of action when the media get involved. Let’s use this platform to show Direct Energy what it’s doing wrong and how it can improve.