No delight with Direct Energy

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.

254 comments

  1. Murray Wagman

    Apr 29 2008

    My wife and I arrived home from vacation at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 13. The house was very cold, about 45 degrees Fahrenheit. My daughter had walked through the house a few days before and hadn’t noticed any problem.

    I called for service. We explained we couldn’t stay in our house that evening because it was so cold and the temperature was dropping. I was also worried about the pipes freezing.

    I spoke to two people and a supervisor. No one could accommodate us. The best they could do was to offer up to $60 reimbursementif we picked up a space heater. I had no idea where to go to get one, nor was I in a position to do so after travelling most of the day.

    By this time, it was 8.15 pm. In desperation, we called a private contractor from the Yellow Pages. They agreed it was a priority call and sent a serviceman to our house within the hour. He figured out what the problem was and what parts were needed. The final repair was done the next morning by my contractor who had installed the furnace.

    I cancelled the call with Direct Energy, but a serviceman appeared at our door at 8 p.m. Monday night, 25 hours after my original call.

    Direct Energy refused to reimburse me. My total outlay was $777.45 (Sunday night service call $177.45, Parts-ventor motor $360, drain pan $120, additional service $120). My contractor said the leaking drain pan probably contributed to the ventor motor failure. Apparently, the drain pan was leaking for many months before, as evidenced by the rust on the floor. This obviiously was missed in my last furnace inspection with Direct Energy in fall 2007.

    ————————————————————–

    Response from Joshua Orzech, company spokesman:

    Hi Ellen,

    Thank you for forwarding Mr. Wagman’s concern.

    Direct Energy provides service to our customers through a number of different methods. We operate a 24 hour, seven days a week support call centre. We have an online service order scheduling system. Our technicians visit customer homes seven days a week between 8:00 am and 11:00 pm. We provide technical support, over the phone, 24 hours, seven
    days a week.

    Direct Energy promises priority service for protection plan customers, where we endeavor to provide service within 24 hours. In 2007, 91.4% of our customers were serviced within a 24 hour time period and 86.5% of customer breakdowns were fixed in the first visit.

    Unfortunately, on the evening of Sunday, January 13th, our technicians, in the area, were fully booked so we scheduled an appointment for the following day. Due to the delay and the temperature, we offered to reimburse Mr. Wagman for the purchase of electric heaters.

    In this case, we have not offered Mr. Wagman a reimbursement for his use of a third-party contractor because we were able to meet our service level agreement of providing service within 24 hours.

    I hope this clarifies the situation.

  2. Philip Davson

    Apr 30 2008

    I wrote to Justin Raymond, operations manager for Direct Energy, on March 31. But I only heard from him today after you contacted the company on my behalf.

    ————————————————————–

    Dear Mr. Raymond,

    On Friday, February 22, 2008 during the early afternoon, a representative of your company, identified by the badge she was wearing, visited my home with the intention of soliciting my business for the supply of natural gas and electricity. This resulted in a very unacceptable series of events which still have not been resolved. I would like some answers to my questions below after the summary of the sequence of events that follows:

    Neither I nor my wife was home that day but my young son, on vacation from university, answered the door. After identifying herself, your agent asked to see my Enbridge Gas bill. My son told her that no one was home and she should come back another time, after hours. She insisted that he produce the bill but he again declined. She continued to pressure him to go and look for the bill as she had “come a long way” and could not leave without the bill.

    My son was reluctant to comply, but she continued her high pressure sales tactics until he finally relented and went to my study to search for the Enbridge bill, which he then produced. She next insisted that he produce my PowerStream electricity bill. When he asked what this had to do with the gas bill, she told him she had to review both and insisted he get it. With both bills in her hand, she said she had to take them with her.

    He replied that she could not take them without my permission, but she said she would mail them back and presented him with a form to sign. He did not read the form but just did what he was bullied into doing. What does a 20 year old student know? He was not given a copy of the document he signed, nor anything else from Direct Energy.

    When I got home that evening, I was extremely perturbed and annoyed by the events. As I am a Direct Energy customer for the rental of my furnace and water heater, I immediately phoned the Direct Energy Sales & Service number on my Enbridge bill. I first spoke to Jeff, who put me onto a second person Carlo. All Carlo could offer was to pass my protest on to some department that looks after complaints of this nature. I gave him a description of the salesperson as requested, but could not give a name, as she did not leave any identification or documents.

    Not satisfied with that response, on Monday morning I called Direct Energy’s Customer Service and related my concerns to Anthony. I asked to get my gas and electricity bills returned and to be provided with a copy of the document my son signed. I was told that there was not much he could do as all bills are shredded and if I wanted copies of the bills I should contact the utilities myself. He could do nothing about the signed document, but he would escalate my concern to the special department that looks after the door to door salesperson complaints.

    I was still not satisfied with the attitude and response. On your website I found the name Lee Rose, Senior Vice President, and tried calling him at 1-866-907-7260 that same Monday. I spoke to Jay, who undertook to look into the matter. After giving him my home phone number and the Enbridge account number, I was told there was nothing logged into your system recording my complaint or concern, but that he would make sure that no changes would be made to my existing suppliers of gas and electricity.

    He undertook to call me back. I did not hear from him Monday or Tuesday, so called again and left a message for Jay, which was never returned.

    Next, I called your corporate office on Tuesday February 26th, and asked for a senior executive to handle my complaint. I was told I could speak to the Operations Manager and was put through to the voicemail of Justin Raymond. The person would not give me the direct phone number or extension, saying it was against company policy.

    On Thursday February 27th, I received a call from Katrina in Customer Solutions. For about the sixth time, I related my story and once again was told it would be escalated to the department that deals with complaints about the door to door salespeople.

    But for the first time, I was not given the brush-off like all the previous calls. Katrina undertook to investigate and try to get my bills back for me as well as the document signed by son. I spoke to Katrina a few more times, either she called me or I was able to leave a message for her to call me back. It seems that of all the people I have spoken to at Direct Energy, Katrina was the only one I was able to call back more than once after the initial contact. However, on three separate occasions subsequently, she did not return my calls. She said she had located my PowerStream bill but not the Enbridge gas bill.

    Some days later, I received in the mail a portion of my PowerStream bill, only the bottom portion used as a remittance advice but not the actual bill with all the details that was taken from my home, nor the original Enbridge gas bill nor the signed contract. A few days later, I received in the mail a copy of the Direct Energy “Your Terms and Conditions” (not the document signed by my son as requested), accompanied by a letter dated March 6, 2008 and signed by Mark Rodrigue thanking me for choosing a Direct Energy Natural Gas Price Protection Plan.

    Strangely on Saturday March 1, 2008, I received a call from Universal Energy thanking me for signing the application to change suppliers. When I said I did not sign any document, the caller said it was signed by Trevor, my son. I again went through the whole complaint procedure, escalated up a level and got the brush-off. They did undertake to return my bills and the application signed by my son. I did receive both the Enbridge gas bill and the signed application in the mail.

    It would seem that your representative is working for more than one company, giving my gas bill to Universal and the electricity bill to Direct Energy, double dipping to presumably get two commissions from both companies.

    One would think that that was the end of the story.
    On Monday evening, March 3, 2008 I received a call from Nicole at Direct Energy, thanking me for applying and wishing to confirm my acceptance to switch suppliers. Again I related the whole series of events and categorically declined the offer to change suppliers. She was rude and uncooperative, saying there was nothing in your system indicating my earlier complaints.

    On Wednesday March 5, I received another call from Direct Energy, this time Robin, again thanking me for applying and wishing to confirm my acceptance to switch suppliers. You can only imagine my reaction. When I asked to speak to a supervisor, she asked me to hold and when she came back said I could not speak to a supervisor because she was on the phone. I said would wait and her reply was I could not do that. I insisted and eventually spoke to Adrian and was given a cancellation reference number 141498491, which I’m sure was just made up and means nothing.

    On numerous occasions ever since the Ontario Energy Board opened the market to independent utility suppliers, I have had agents from Direct Energy solicit at my door and I do know that they can be very insistent and deceptive in the approach they take, which would indicate to me that it is part of the training.

    Now I would like to know the answers to following questions:

    1. Why would your agent request a signature on a contract from someone other than the homeowner or someone authorized to sign?

    2. Why did your agent not leave a copy of the signed document at the time and why was I not provided a copy within 40 days, even after my numerous requests?

    3. Why did your agent not leave a business card with the name of the agent, the name of the company and a telephone number at which the company can be contacted, as is required?

    4. If the regulations provide that the consumer is under no obligation to show sales agents copies of bills, why did your agent persist in saying that she be provided with them even after she was originally told no?

    5. Why does your agent promise to mail back the bills when your call centre advises me that it is your company policy to shred them?

    6. What have you done about this particular agent’s behaviour?

    7. What are you going to do about your company’s policies in the future to protect other consumers against such behaviour?

    I have sent a copy to the Ontario Energy Board because I believe your company engages in deceptive and forceful marketing practices and does not have a transparent complaints process.

    All your various ‘customer service’ or ‘customer care’ call centres are just big black holes, creating the impression of listening to the customer. But they really don’t know what is going on out on the street, don’t know what to do when a customer has a complaint and, more importantly, don’t really care.

    I will expect your reply in writing by April 10, 2008.

    ————————————————————-

    Ellen,

    Thanks for your email but more importantly for taking the time to contact Direct Energy. It’s amazing that the only way I could get a response from them was at the threat of adverse exposure through the press.

    I sent an email to Justin Raymond at Direct Energy earlier this evening with a Bcc to you, so there may be more information still to follow. I have asked for a copy of the original signed Application and I have no doubt the the rates contracted for in that Application are way higher than those I presently pay to my current suppliers.

    I have read your numerous articles you included. Unlike Justin Raymond’s assurances to the contrary that my situation is not typical, it would seem that the public needs to be protected and the OEB does not do the job.

    ————————————————————–

    Justin,

    Thank you for your call this evening and as requested I enclose a copy of the Universal Energy Application signed at the same time as the Direct Energy Application. Please note that the signature is that of my son Trevor, even though the form is checked as being signed by “spouse”.

    In addition, the form is dated Feb. 20, 2008, a Wednesday, whereas Trevor, who attends Western University in London Ont., had not returned home until Thursday 21st for reading week and was visited by your agent on Friday 22nd. I have not been able to ask Trevor to verify the signature as he is back at University at present, but will do so next week when he returns. Perhaps the signature is not his!

    Despite your apology this evening and your expressed intention to investigate the matter, I still expect you to provide a copy of the signed Direct Energy Application as repeatedly requested in my numerous telephone conversations with your Customer Service/Solutions departments and my letter dated March 31, 2008 addressed to you personally.

    I have provided the attachments to assist you in follow-up and making the necessary changes to your procedures and your outsourced service suppliers. If I can prevent just one person from falling prey to Direct Energy’s marketing practices, I will feel justified in the inordinate amount of time I have spent on this matter.

    I have no doubt that I would not have heard from you or anyone at Direct Energy had you not been contacted by The Toronto Star today.

  3. Big Cajun Man

    Apr 30 2008

    I had a similar experience with Enbridge’s alleged Furnace protection plan. My furnace (at the time) had a standing pilot light, and it finally broke, and it was the coldest day of the year, and I was told that Enbridge couldn’t send anyone until the next day.

    I stayed calm and pointed out that I had a newborn in the house and kids and that this was not good enough. Luckily, someone showed up that afternoon, but I was not impressed either.

    –C8j

  4. Michael James

    Apr 30 2008

    Hi Ellen,

    From a business point of view, it’s not clear that Direct Energy is doing anything wrong. They would make less money if their representatives didn’t bully and trick people into entering one of their contracts. Given that many of their customers don’t even know that they are customers of Direct Energy, why should the company waste any money making these people happy?

    Many businesses can be shamed into treating their customers better. That doesn’t seem to be the case here. The only meaningful threat would be something that would cost them money.

    I have had some experience with Direct Energy representatives lying to me at my front door. I would love to see them get crushed. I just don’t think that embarrassing them will work.

  5. MI

    Apr 30 2008

    We are a small auto-body repair shop in Mississauga. In January, we received our Enbridge Gas bill and were very shocked to see our balance owing. We knew it had been cold but it was a lot higher than usual!!

    Upon digging into the bills and doing some comparisons, we realized that our gas rate had gone up to 49.3 cents a cubic metre as of our last August bill. We didn’t realize it had gone up because we had never received any info from Direct Energy or Enbridge about a rate increase. Also from August to November our gas consumption was not very high, so the bill amounts did not throw up any red flags.

    I began trying to make some calls to try and sort out what had happened and how to fix the problem.

    I started with Enbridge, which although polite and understanding, could do nothing in regard to the situation.

    I called the Ontario Energy Board and they could do little to help me understand how we were suddenly being charged 30 cents more a cubic metre without any notice, option or warning.

    I then called Direct Energy. I had hoped my previous calls would have been able to give me some insight on how to deal with my company’s problem, but it only frustrated and aggravated me.

    My first contact with Direct Energy allowed me to put through a complaint and advised me that we should have received a written notice to renew our contract with Direct Energy, which we never received. Our option was to resign or cancel in writing. Since we did not receive this paperwork, our contract automatically defaulted into a one year contract at 49.3 cents a cubic metre.

    My complaint was duly noted. It would be acknowledged once it was processed in 5 to 15 business days! In the meantime, we were experiencing a very cold winter and we were unable to cancel the contract because we would face a cancellation charge.

    On Feb. 29, I received a call to say that our complaint was in queue to be reviewed. I didn’t get a phone call from our customer complaint rep until March 10. Our discussion was not pleasant. I could not prove that we never received any renewal paperwork, yet he could say that no returned mail came back to him from our address. It’s a “he says, she says” scenario.

    I kindly requested that our agreement be cancelled and that we get reimbursed for the higher rate of gas charged to us. That was not an option. He did offer to cancel our contract, but it would take up to 6 weeks to complete. That would bring us right into warm weather and reduced gas consumption on our part. If I paid the penalty or waited for the processing of the cancellation, we would still be out a lot of money.

    I have called both the Energy board and Enbridge again, since receiving another large bill. I have been told that we need to get a lawyer to deal with Direct Energy because we are a business. The Ontario Energy Board only deals with residential issues. So they say.

    We want to get back some of our money, not spend more. How do energy companies keep getting away with ripping people off, without any consequence?

    I requested a copy of the original agreement which was signed by the previous business owners on April 12, 2002, and received by Direct Energy’s mail room on April 17, 2002. I should have already received my renewal papers for the contract to become effective again this August, but they have not surfaced.

    Based on the terms and conditions of Direct Energy, they are required to send out this notice.

    If we calculate the amount we have paid in excess of our previous gas rate, it totals $10,211.40.

    Ouch, it hurts to even type that amount out. It directly hits our bottom line.

    We have been overcharged for our gas, we did not receive any paperwork, we did not receive any notice after the fact and we did not authorize a one year contract with this company.

    Enbridge has a current rate of 29.3 cents for the same gas. Why would we voluntarily choose to pay more?

  6. Lior

    Apr 30 2008

    In the second case, with the gas reseller sales rep at the door, you just tell them to piss off and shut the door in their face if they can’t take a polite “no thanks”. I’ve had this happen to me with a Universal Energy rep who showed up at my door one afternoon.

    He asked to present him with a gas bill. I told him I know your company, I’m not interested and I’m locked with Enbridge. When I told him that, he goes “Oh, OK, I see you don’t want to save money today. Fine by me!” and I’m like get the hell out of my sight!

  7. Lior

    Apr 30 2008

    MI: locking a rate may be a wise idea if you get a good rate. The logic in doing so is gas prices fluctuate all the time. Hence, by locking yourself for one rate for a term, say 5 years, you basically protect yourself in case gas prices surge.

    With that in mind, it is important to remember that Enbridge has to get approval from the OEB before raising their gas supply prices. A little common sense will tell you that should gas prices spike in the market, as long as you are informed about current market conditions, you always have a slight advance notice to lock in and protect yourself.

    Right now, I’m locked at 21 cents but the current rate is 26. Last year the rate was 33. However, what you are paying, almost 50 cents for a cubic metre, is just absurd.

  8. Steve Conforzi

    Apr 30 2008

    Just wanted to know if there are any situations that have been expierenced whereby Enbridge missed consumption readings right around the same time as a Direct renewal contract kicked in

  9. Jim

    May 1 2008

    Direct Energy is nothing more than a huge scam! They promise secure rates, but you come to find out they are overcharging by 4-5 cents over Union Gas… I’ve been overcharged at least $200-$300 per year!!!!

    Also once you’re signed up with them, they’ll never let you out of the contract unless you pay their extortion fee. They want me to pay them $383 to not use their services!!!!!

    How can this even be legal????

  10. Stephen

    May 5 2008

    I have had my fun with Direct Energy and their furnace protection plan. I have had two bad experiences.

    The first involved the pilot sensor going on my relatively new (less than 5 years) furnace. I called Direct Energy and was told that no one could get to me until almost 28 hours later, which seemed to contradict their 24 hour service guarantee.

    When I pointed that out, the service rep got very defensive and told me that it wasn’t really that cold outside anyway and I shouldn’t need to worry. Of course, that may be okay when the temperature is 15 C in the Toronto area, but at the time (early fall) it was around 0 C in Ottawa with a wind-chill of around -5 C.

    I tried to get a supervisor but that got nowhere and when I tried to see if I could get a technician to come and at least check my furnace, I was told by the service rep that all the techs were on service calls. I found it hard to believe that they would be booked up with broken furnaces for over 24 hours.

    Of course, now I know why. Since it was early fall, all the technicians were out doing furnace maintenance calls. In fact, the week before, I had had the Direct Energy technician over to do the furnace maintenance for my furnace.

    Luckily, a technician from Direct Energy was able to drop by within a few hours of my call and he found the the problem. He even showed me the part and it was covered with soot, which meant it had not been cleaned during the maintenance check, even though the checklist that was left for me said that it had been cleaned.

    The second event with Direct Energy occured a year later, when the motor on the furnance died. Once again, Direct Energy couldn’t get a person over to my house within 24 hours.

    After some begging and pointing out how crappy a service I had the last time, I was able to get someone over within 6 hours. The motor was replaced the next morning, but the technician was not all that keen on telling me what went wrong with the motor.

    As noted above, there was some major rusting in the area of the motor and I’m pretty sure it was something a maintenance check should have flagged. Of course, no mention of the rust or possible problems with the motor was mentioned on the maintenance checklist.

    Needless, to say as soon I was up for renewal I sent in my paperwork to stop the service.

    Any time I get a call from an agent from Direct Energy, I tell them to not to bother calling any more as I will never ever take their furnace protection service.

    I have also made it a habit of telling their agents who come to my door to get off my property before they even have time to talk to me.

  11. Steph

    May 5 2008

    Thank you all for sharing your experiences with Direct Energy!

    I was considering a switch over to Direct Energy for both my electrical and gas needs, despite being suspicious of the whole “gosh darn it, don’t you want to save money?” pitch.

    I now have confirmation that my gut feeling was correct and will stay clear of Direct Energy. Thanks again.

  12. Steph

    May 5 2008

    Further to my above note, I contacted Direct Energy to advise them that I did not wish to receive their price protection plan for gas or electricity. To my dismay, I was told they did not have me on record so there was no need to refuse the service!

    I had to be very persistent to eventually be transferred to Lillian, who did have my information on record. At this point, I was feeling very suspicious and asked to have the service cancelled immediately, even though I was told an agent would contact me after 10 days to reaffirm my new price plan. (I imagine if an agent was unable to contact me, that would mean I wanted the service?)

    I then requested a confirmation number for both cancellations which I duly noted. Hopefully, this is the end of the story!?

  13. MI

    May 6 2008

    I had been in touch with Direct Energy about our contract, which was renewed without our knowledge. We had the contract cancelled without a penalty, but it was going to take 6-8 weeks to process, which conveniently was April 1st when it starts to warm up.

    I recently spoke to the company again and was told the initial cancellation was not processed, because I was waiting to hear whether I could get back some compensation of the $10,000 we had been overcharged.

    They were also going to find out if we could at least get compensation for the April billing, since it would be May 1 before the cancellation took effect.

    I spoke to someone at Enbridge in the last week, who had received the termination request April 9 in the system. They said it takes 15 business days to process. The lady with whom I spoke was unsure of the cancellation process and kept putting me on hold. She told me it was effective May 1, as per Direct Energy. The 15 days “processing” is in fact a 21-day extension of the Direct Energy rate.

    One last hooray at 43.9 cents (OOPs, sorry I may have reversed the digits on the last email.)

    I asked about the amount of return mail received from renewals. They could not answer. They use an independent company to get the packages out, which I’m sure for the most part they do. Yet, in my circumstance, they did not achieve their goal.

    In all honesty, if you received incorrect mail and it looked like junk mail, would you take the time to return to sender? Do most people look at the address and be bothered to walk up and down the strret in an industrial area to deliver it? It’s not what I would expect.

    They have no proof that it – the renewal – was delivered. I can only say I did not receive it.

    Registered mail would make sense to give customers a confirmed delivery of the receipt of the important documents. It’s in the best interest of Direct Energy’s customers, but not in the best interest of their -DE’s – bottom line.

    I don’t feel like a customer. I feel like a hostage. I don’t feel that their treatment has been fair or just. They hide behind their policies, which conveniently fall within a limited window.

    Enbridge has no lines on their billing to flash a new rate in bold or italics. No comment helpfully alerting you that your renewal is coming up.

    Customer service is huge for any retail or service-oriented company. We strive in our company to do our best to keep our customers informed.

    Where is a follow-up letter after the automatic renewal? Where is the reminder in the mail? They don’t keep customers or have them coming back. They trick them into being stuck with no way out.

    I appreciate your time and efforts in not only helping our company, but helping the countless people who have been taken advantage of and misled.

    I will update you with any further news or details once I receive my next Enbridge bill.

  14. Jason

    May 6 2008

    It really amazes me how I come across so many articles and complaints about big companies like this, and how often so many people don’t take responsibility for their own actions. It also amazes me how often details are left and how many details are added in to generate more sympathy without doing any research on the real facts.

    I’m sorry, but if you haven’t taught your 20 year old son not to sign anything if he’s not sure what it is, and if he isn’t smart enough to know he doesn’t have the authority to sign on someone else’s behalf, and if you haven’t taught him to be man enough to not allow himself to get bullied, and if he is really that naive, and if you have the attitude that “he’s only 20, what does he know?” then that’s your own fault.

    I have worked for Direct Energy before, and I know from experience as a sales rep there that they do not promote tactics to simply bully customers into signing without having them understand exactly what is going on. In fact, I’ve always found that the most pushy salespeople are the ones that simply don’t know how to sell, and then overcompensate by being pushy because that’s the only way they know to get results.

    I know that Direct Energy genuinely does care about their customers, and they monitor everything they can to make sure that no one gets misled. But just like any other large corporation, there is always a certain percentage of people that fall through the cracks and have a horrible experience. There is always that bad seed who gets into the door when they get hired. The same is true for any large company.

    I want to make it clear that I am not giving Direct Energy a pass here. I am simply saying that you can’t judge an entire company’s ethics based on the bad experiences of a half a percent of the company’s customers.

    One of the main reasons I left the company is not because I didn’t like it, but because the people that I did provide genuine service to didn’t appreciate it.

    For example, 3 years ago I signed up a customer on a 3 year program for natural gas at 55 cents/therm. When I signed them up, they were at 49 cents/therm. They signed up out of necessity, no appreciation, just doing what they had to based on the facts they had seen. Since then, the rates in their territory had jumped to $1.20. I never received a call from them thanking us. All they know is that at the end of the program they renewed at $1.29, and it will be there for 2 years, protecting them against any future rate increases in that time.

    Apparently they held onto my phone number, called me to complain that it had been renewed and they hadn’t received notification. They complained that we raised their rates, but didn’t even acknowledge how much they had actually saved over the course of the program because they weren’t keeping track. So they renew on the same program based on the same principles, and they hate me for it.

    They ended up canceling the program. Never mind the fact that they acknowledged (on a recorded line I might add) that the program would automatically renew at the end of the term based on the market conditions. Never mind the fact that a notification did go out, but that they never bothered telling us that they had moved 6 months ago.

    Then I see all kinds of posts online about people complaining that Direct Energy charged them a higher price than their utility.

    I had to deal with people calling to complain that representatives called and left a message saying they were late on their gas bill and they had to call back to avoid shut-off. All of the calls are recorded, and nothing of the sort was ever said. I would have people calling back making claims that I made statements that were never made, accusing me of misleading them. Again, all calls are recorded and monitored, and that is stated at the beginning of the conversation. I have not had a single incident where a customer calling to say I lied to them had actually been speaking the truth.

    This is really what it comes down to, I can handle complaints, I enjoy solving problems for people. What I have trouble with is dealing with people whot lie and mislead to get what they want, and 99% of the time I’ve found that in dealing with big companies like this, it is usually the customer conveniently leaving out a few key details. And I’ve found it’s usually news feature programs and articles that like to downplay the other side of the story to generate sympathy and get ratings. Nothing generates ratings like going after a big company.

    Furthermore, anyone who runs a business knows that while cheating customers may lead to short term profits, in the long run it is financial suicide. You may not like the oil company profits, but at least they aren’t lying about them. And while most people do need gas to heat their homes, they are not obligated to go with Direct Energy, and for Direct Energy to be as big as they are means they have plenty of customers that are satisfied with their service.

    Complain all you want, complain about deregulation if you want to, but if not for deregulation then a high percentage of people would be stuck with this company that you despise so much. And guess what, there would be nothing they could do about it except just accept the service and pricing. There would be no option to go anywhere else.

    Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Geez.

  15. d

    May 13 2008

    Jason, you might be right about some door to door reps. But that still doesn’t explain the continual buck passing once these complaints are escalated. For that, Direct Energy IS responsible!

  16. Paul Breslin

    May 14 2008

    Here’s another way they will screw you that I don’t see mentioned here. Early this month we had the exhaust blower on our furnace go bad. They came and replaced it in reasonable time but the service rep wrote on his report that we saved $900 because of our protection plan. Man, I figured this motor he put in must be made of gold or something.

    After calling them they told me that the actual invoice amount was $797. (Ok, not pure gold) and I asked them to send me the invoice. The billed amount for this motor was $599.

    So I go to the furnace, write down the make and model and do a little web searching… Direct order before tax and delivery, price: $139.90 US.

    Since their protection plan only covers a limited amount per year (in our case $1000), they obviously save millions overall by gouging their customers on parts pricing.

    This has got to be illegal right?

  17. Don Dorward

    Jun 3 2008

    Hi Ellen, Direct Energy make it so difficult to communicate with them, when it comes to trying to cancel anything. Try and find a mailing address on their documents!

    I foolishly agreed to let a phone telemarketer sign me up for the 3 point total Home Protection Plan in March. I have tried to cancel it via phone to Enbridge on April 4 and letter/fax to the Enbridge ombudsman on May 1. The ombudsman’s office was sympathetic, but said as my agreement was with Direct Energy, all they could do was forwad my letter to Direct Energy. Now I have my May 29 bill, and the charges are still there.

    Any suggestions?

  18. Ellen Roseman

    Jun 3 2008

    Hi Don. Direct Energy is a separate company from Enbridge (though it lets Enbridge do the billing).

    Customers have to communicate directly with Direct. But it’s not easy.

    Lee Rose was the senior guy in charge of home services — and you could find his name and contacts at the website. But since he left a month ago, Direct Energy has gone back to a no-names policy. Maybe the execs were getting too much flak.

    I’ll handle it for you with their media contact, Joshua Orzech.

  19. KJ

    Jun 5 2008

    My son signed up with Direct Energy, but when they called him back to reaffirm, he told them he didn’t want it.

    He called sometime later to inquire and they told him he was on a five-year plan. Now he has to go through a bunch of BS to get out of the contract, even though he told them he didn’t want it.

    How does the Government allow companies like Direct Energy operate like this?They are a bunch of FRIGGIN CROOKS!

  20. John Gross

    Jun 11 2008

    Here’s my story.

    Saturday morning (June 7th): I spot water gushing from the bottom of my hot water tank and realize it’s shot. Fortunately, there is a drain right next to it, so there is no water damage. I call Direct Energy to arrange a replacement and mention that I likely will want to take this opportunity to convert my electric hot water heater to gas. The best they can do is to send someone Sunday evening between 4-8 pm. I cancel my planned Sunday outing with friends (rock climbing near Niagara Falls) to be home for the call.

    Sunday evening (June 8): The technician arrives and immediately agrees I need a new tank (I knew that Saturday morning). I say I want to convert to gas. He says he’ll talk to the Direct Energy dispatcher first thing Monday morning and make that clear, and do what he can to try to get my tank replaced Monday. He glances around and says it should be no problem installing a gas heater, which will need to go in the furnace room in order to be exhausted via the furnace chimney. (My old tank is in the laundry room a few feet away). I later learn he is referring to a “conventional” gas water heater. He says there will be no charge for the replacement/conversion, as long as no more than 10 feet of gas line needs to be run.

    Monday (June 9): I stay home from work, hoping they’ll come replace my water heater. I make at least 8 calls to Direct Energy to try to arrange this. I am disconnected on 2 of the calls. I spend well over an hour on the phone, mostly on hold. The first few calls accomplish nothing, apart from having someone take down my name and promise to have someone call me back with an appointment time. After feeling that I am getting absolutely nowhere, I invoke the key word “escalate” and get to talk to members of the Executive Support team. (I eventually reach Jennifer Frampton, who actually listens, cares and is intelligent).

    The first of these Executive Support team members makes an appointment for me Tuesday between 11-3; but when I double-check to see this will be a crew who can handle the conversion to gas, he says, “Oh, no, I didn’t know you wanted that.” (I had told 3 or 4 other people that, but not him, assuming it was on my file.) I start to feel as if they delete my file after each call. Jennifer finally tells me I have an appointment Wednesday between noon-4 pm to do the gas conversion.

    Tuesday (June 10): I get home from work and find a card in the mailbox from Direct Energy: Sorry we missed you. I am worried they came on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. I call and am angry (especially when for the n’th time I am asked to provide an alternate phone number, which I have already provided over and over again). I am finally assured that they never canceled the initial appointment and that I still have my Wednesday appointment.

    Wednesday (June 11): I stay home from work again, for the second time. At 1 pm, a crew shows up (led by Ray), ready to do a gas conversion. But they look at my furnace room and are concerned about how they are going to fit the water heater in there, with limited space and a furnace & electrical panel to work around. They also worry about how to reroute the water pipes (at my expense), which Sunday’s technician didn’t seem to pay attention to (since the current water heater is in the laundry room with the water pipes).

    After a good look at the lay of the land, they decide the best option is to install a Power Vent gas heater in the laundry room, vent it out the side of the house and run the gas line there from the furnace room. Ray seems to know what he is talking about. But they don’t have the right model of water heater with them.

    I call the executive support team to try to expedite delivery of the tank today and the return of the crew to complete the work if the tank is available. I speak to Michelle, who like Jennifer really listens and understands what I need and why I am so upset. She calls back after 3 pm to say the tank cannot be available until Thursday morning, and I have an appointment Thursday between 9-1 pm.

    And the crew who figured out what it will take to do the job tells me the cost will be $450, instead of no charge as I was told Sunday evening. I’ll start fighting that as soon as the work is complete.

    So at this point, I have been without hot water for 5 full days. The technician I waited two days to see didn’t properly assess my needs. I was told that I had to see a technician instead of directly arranging a replacement, because they thought my water tank was less than 2 years old (in fact, it is decades old; I bought the house 2 years ago). I feel that Direct Energy has fouled this up at almost every conceivable step, with the exception of Jennifer’s & Michelle’s attempts to help, and Ray’s assessment of what I really need.

    Jennifer Frampton told me Monday that when the work is completed and everything has settled down, we can discuss compensation. Perhaps by the time you get a chance to look at this, I will indeed have a new water heater, and perhaps Jennifer will agree to waive the entire $450 charge to try to pacify me. But the process I have endured to get this far has been incredibly frustrating and I would like to expose Direct Energy’s poor service to the light of day.

    After writing all this and sending it to Ellen Roseman, I get a call from Direct Energy. Completely unrelated to the events of this week, a woman there wants to know if I am interested in having my ducts cleaned. I let her know that her timing is very bad and that I am very angry at Direct Energy right now. She beats a hasty retreat.

  21. Mike

    Jun 12 2008

    I recently moved to a new house and I am getting calls from Direct Energy saying I have an account with them and all they need is my Union Gas account number. I do not and have never had any dealings with these crooks in the past. When I refuse to give my Union Gas account to her, she became quite frustrated. Needless to say, I hope nobody falls for this BS sales tactic.

  22. Billy

    Jun 13 2008

    I’m experiencing the same problem as everyone else. I, too, was naive to sign up with them. I wish I had read this forum site ahead of time.

    I’m currently trying to write a letter to Justin Raymond, as I know we have been misled by the door-to-door agent.

    I suggest that we should expose this tactics to the media and crush Direct Energy.

  23. John Gross

    Jun 14 2008

    Quick update: my water heater was finally replaced on Thursday, June 12th, 5 days after I first asked for service. I am still waiting to hear back about the financial settlement.

    I have asked Direct Energy to waive the conversion fee to compensate me for 5 days of waiting, including 3 days staying home from work, and the numerous errors made in resolving my problem.

  24. KJ

    Jun 16 2008

    I wouldn’t hold your breath, John. You’re dealing with a company that doesn’t care about the customer and is only worried about the bottom line. Direct Energy is a FREAK SHOW.

  25. David Dossett

    Jun 18 2008

    Jason – you said “What I have trouble with is dealing with people whot lie and mislead to get what they want…” Well here is my experience. I admit that I am more fortunate than most people here because I did not end up as a Direct Energy victim/customer.
    Last year two young ladies arrived at my door and told me that they were there to do a public service. They were there to inform me that energy prices would soon skyrocket in Ontario. I asked them what they were selling. They said that they were not selling anything and repeated that it was a public service. They showed me some printed materials and spouted off some facts and figures at high speed. I was preoccupied, and I was working at home, so I asked them if I could take their brochure and read over it and confirm that information. They said that if I showed them my utilities bill then they would be able to demonstrate the savings. I said that I could do that myself and that I did not want to do it right now – at the end of the day perhaps. Again I asked them for their material and they refused, saying that it was the only copy they had. That made me very suspicious. So I said that I would not be interested if I could not see the information. I added that I would need that information so that I could confirm with the Kingston Public Utilities Commission (boy we’re lucky we have that publicly-owned utility) that this was indeed a good deal. She said that she was not really a very nice person (!!!!) and I would have to decide now if I wanted to save $$$, not later. I replied by asking her why I would ever want to do business with somebody who admits that she is not a nice person. So I told her I was not interested. Then I googled for “Direct Energy scam” and all of these instances of phony signatures etc. etc. came up. So I called my PUC and told them what happened. Sorry, Jason, but it seems that there are far too many instances of unathorized customer switching for your former company to brush off.
    Just a note- before the wonderful Mike Harris government cam into power, the PUC provided all residents of the city of Kingston – its customers – with free furnace inspections twice a year and free maintenance. They came to turn the gas on in the fall and came again to turn it off in the spring, if requested. Sometimes the people who came were PUC employees, sometimes they were local reputable contractors under contract with the PUC. They were always polite and very thorough. I remember one time when our porcelain filament burned out. We called PUC (as was the procedure) and they dispatched a serviceman immediately. He charged us something like $49.00 for the part. The service was free. That, in fact, was the agreement with the PUC – they would charge only for the replacement cost of the parts that they repaired. The understanding was that they stocked parts onlyt for the major makes of furnaces. If you had a unique and rare brand, they suggested that you order spare parts yourself or have fast access to the same so that they would be on hand in an emergency. Mike Harris’ government put an end to that because it was deemed unfair when compared to the much more expensive service plan provided to customers of Union/Centra Gas and other companies.

  26. Siobhan

    Jun 23 2008

    My mother and I signed up for this plan on Jan. 30, 2008. Did EXACTLY THE SAME THINGS mentioned above to us. Yes, we were foolish. We *thought* we’d save, since we are on a very low fixed income.

    My mother is on ODSP, Ontario Disability Support Program, and we barely get by on the money we do receive. Now we must pay for a cancellation fee of $1000+ on a contract we already CANCELLED.

    We have all the papers and we’ll (or I will, since my mother has difficulty in approaching situations like this) fight to get out. Even go to my local MP if I have to and continuously phone Direct Energy and the Ontario Energy Board.

    I hope you never sign up on this.

  27. Jess

    Jun 25 2008

    A month ago, a representative from Direct Energy came by our house asking to speak to my husband (who answered the door) about our gas and energy prices. She did not announce herself as being from Direct Energy (in fact, the only way we knew was by the pamphlet she left behind).

    She warned my husband that gas and electricity prices were going up and that we might be eligible for a rebate. She then asked for a copy of our gas and hydro bills so that they could ensure we weren’t being scammed by our current company and informed us a representative would call in the next two weeks.

    Well, call they did! Someone from Direct Energy would call once or twice a day for two weeks. Each time I told the caller that they needed to speak to my husband and told them when he could be reached. They never did call back when they said they would, choosing instead, whether by poor communication or intent, to harass me daily.

    A month later, we received a notice from our current gas supplier that we had terminated our account with them to switch to Direct Energy, and owed an early termination fee. My husband immediately contacted our current supplier and informed them that this was not the case, and would they please reinstate our account. Our gas supplier happily obliged and we were fee-free!

    My husband then emailed Direct Energy, asking that whatever account we had with them be cancelled. They responded with an unsigned email (we only knew it was from Direct Energy because it was a direct reply with our email message attached). The email response said that the matter would be passed on to their account department.

    I then called the Direct Energy customer service department where I recounted our story and said that we had never signed a contract, did not wish to do so and were quite angry that we had been unknowingly signed up for an account. The representative politely told me that she would make sure our account was cancelled and that she would forward on our complaint.

    Two days later, I received a call from a Direct Energy representative. She opened the call with “I would like to speak to you about your account with us for hydro services…” (We don’t have a hydro account with them.) I asked if they had us signed up for a hydro account; she said “Well, no, but…”, sounding very put out. I cut her off, saying we weren’t interested in a hydro account with them or any of their services for that matter, and hung up.

    Three weeks later, I receive another call from a Direct Energy representative. “We’re going to go ahead and sign you up for our savings plan,” she says, starting into her sales pitch.

    I stopped her and politely explained that we had previously requested that our account with them be terminated and that we were not interested in their services. I told her the whole story — how we been signed up for an account without signing a contract, how they had notified our gas company that we were switching to Direct Energy (without notifying us!), how I thought everything had been resolved and complaints registered with the right people.

    “So you want to open yourself up to unfair gas hikes and price gouging, then?” she responded sarcastically. I finally got angry. I told her we didn’t want their services, we were angry with how we had been treated and I didn’t feel like speaking to her any more — and I hung up.

    I then did the right thing and filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau of Mid-Western Ontario, explaining the whole long ugly thing. And I called Direct Energy’s customer service line and filed another complaint, informing them I had complained to the Better Business Bureau. The representative politely thanked me and told me the complaint would be passed on.

    I’ve done a little investigating and now think we were victims of fraud. Apparently Direct Energy has been found guilty of fraud in cases similar to ours. Never having received a copy of the contract they would have needed to open and activate our account, I again contacted Direct Energy’s customer service. After a lengthy shuffling between various representatives, this resulted in being informed that they no longer had a copy of that contract, although we would shortly receive a cancellation notice in the mail.

    Interestingly enough, they also didn’t know who the customer representative was who visited our house. Convenient, don’t you think?

  28. Anonymous

    Jul 10 2008

    Hi Ellen,

    My name is not important, but what I do is. I was recently an employee of Direct Energy working in a customer service call centre.

    First off, let me say that most of these stories are easily avoided before they get escalated. People just get out-of-control and call in yelling just because they’re not understanding this correctly.

    Although Direct Energy door to door salespeople may not ALWAYS be truthful, but do you think that ALL salespeople are truthful? NO! But, when you sign with Direct Energy in a solicited sale (that is, when DE comes to you by either phoning your house or coming to your door) they DO call the house back and require to speak with the account holder or the account holder’s spouse to confirm the agreement. Up until that point, you are not locked into the agreement.

    After you re-affirm the contract, Direct Energy is ALSO on contract for the gas that you will use for the term of your contract. If you break that agreement, Direct Energy also has to break contract and therefore needs to recover the losses. It does this via:

    1. An “Administrative Fee” which is the fee to pay people who work in the call centers providing service and to pay the agent who is walking around door-to-door, to pay the people at DE who put the contract into enrolment, and the people at the utility company who also have to put the contract into enrolment so they can bill you.

    2. “Liquidated Damages” are the largest part of the fee in almost all cases, and these are accumulated only AFTER the re-affirmation is done and the contract has been confirmed by either the account holder, or their spouse. These damages pay for your projected consumption or usage for the rest of the contract. This is paying for all the gas that you would have used over the term of the contract, to break it down.

    Both of those fees are logical, and in no way are they unfair. They are ONLY aquired once the account has been accepted twice (in a solicited sale), or once (if you contact DE to make the contract).

    I’m tired of writing but I could go on for days to continue defending DE. In the end, DE is a large company. With ANY company, you will get complaints. These cases with previous customers I have seen on here are very emotional, and could have been avoided.

    Although that is my opinion, I can promise you that DE is trying to take your complaint. Many of these complaints were made without reason, long before a re-affirmation call was made where the contract can simply be cancelled.

    I’m not speaking as a spokesperson for the company, but I feel it is important that both sides of the situation are seen.

  29. Anonymous

    Jul 11 2008

    Siobhan – simply call DE customer service and explain that you are on disability, which is fixed income. In almost all fixed income cases DE can waive the fee for cancellation, provided that it was a solicited sale.

    Same goes for non-solicited sales, but it’s a little tougher.

  30. Anonymous(again)

    Jul 11 2008

    As a previous employee of DE and not a current one, I can speak from my own opinion and not be bound by what DE tells me to say.

    I will admit that the hydro accounts are of less value than the gas contracts, although rarely will someone lose money on a 5-year gas contract.

    I can assure you that fixing your rates for gas is a great idea, as the utility rates are VERY volatile. However, wether you sign with DE or not, you still have a chance at losing money. It is all about personal preference.

    For the hydro (electricity) fixed rates, there is nothing I can say about saving money at the moment, as utility rates are capped by the Ontario Government so nobody is currently paying the true cost of electricity. However, contracts that will be continuing through to when the smart meters come in will almost definitly see the difference once the price is correlated with the supply and demand of hydro in Ontario. Prices can get up to almost 20 cents per kilowatt hour during peak times which is when almost everyone signing a contract is more likely to use hydro. By signing into a fixed rate for 8 cents now, you would be paying more until the smart meters come in. Once the smart meters come in and everyone else is being charged prices up to 20 cents per kilowatt hour, the rate of 8 cents will not seem so bad.

    I myself had signed a contract with a retailer once, and although I tried to cancel it I could not as I didn’t have the money for the early termination fee. The company was charging me 29.5/m3 whereas the utility rate was approx 23 or 24 cents per cubic meter. Over my 5 year term which ends in one year, the gas prices have come up and so now I am paying much less than I would had I stayed with Union Gas, who is now charging close to 38 cents per cubic metre.

  31. Mike

    Jul 14 2008

    We moved a year ago to a house that uses oil instead of gas. We canceled and all is well, no penalty, supposedly.

    Then 6 months later, a threatening collection agency letter from something called Direct Energy retention department. We had to fax proof that we’re on oil, never mind the cancellation 6 months ago. Faxed contract and bill from oil company.

    One month after, another angry letter. “you had plenty of time…” bla bla, it actually used those words.

    Called again. Now it’s going to the supervisor. I asked for them to call me so I know all is well and I don’t have to measure how all is well by the absence of threatening letters in the mail. Next thing I know they screw up my credit rating.

    I will never ever in a million years sign up with an alternative energy provider ever again, especially Direct Energy. Consumer beware.

  32. Siobhan

    Jul 17 2008

    I was asked by DE to give confirmation that my family is on Ontario Disability Support Program. We got a waiver once I phoned in a week ago from faxing the letter I received from my case worker.

    I have proof that the fax did go through, but a DE customer service rep and someone else who is higher up is saying they never received it. Yet we received a guarantee waiver.

    My family is being sued by DE through Collection Group Canada (CGC) for $1,320, four dollars more than what my family gets from the government, for a month.

    I was waiting for the other cancellation letter and a letter stating the contract was terminated and both Hydro and Gas accounts were terminated too. But I received a letter from CGC saying that my family must pay this cancellation fee or there will be harsh punishments.

    We HAD that waiver, we were just waiting for the letters to come in, after the fourth of July, I’m -still- waiting. My mother is not mentally capable of dealing with this. I am 19 years old, dealing with this ridiculous situation.

  33. Anonymous

    Jul 18 2008

    It DOES take up to 30 days to be removed from collections, so hold tight. Disregard letters that you recieve within 30 days from us saying we will waive it, but please call DE if you’re still getting them after 30 days.

  34. JC

    Jul 23 2008

    Last year, I wrote you because I had a terrible time getting my mother’s furnace repaired. It was winter and my 95-year-old legally blind mother was fit to be tied when I told her Direct Energy, the company she has a service contract with, couldn’t promise her a service person for possibly up to 48 hours. I politely managed to get through to a manager and we had the furnace fixed within 6 hours.

    After that hassle, I wrote to you and like magic a woman by the name of Mirabell Palma called me to apologize and gave me her direct number and a number she can be contacted at after hours, 7 days a week.

    This past Sunday, I drove to Toronto from Cambridge to help my 93 year-old-aunt prepare for a serious cancer operation on Wed., July 23. I noticed that her one-year-old air conditioner wasn’t cooling the house, so I took temperature readings at the outlet vents and then went to check out the furnace in the basement.

    The first thing I noticed was that the new furnace, just installed in May of this year by a division of Direct Energy, had water pouring down the opposite side from where the drain hose is located. That told me the air conditioner was taking water out of the air but wasn’t operating well enough to cool her house.

    In fact, I took the temperature of the air coming out of the wall vents and it was 66 degrees F. My air conditioner vents cool air at around 47-50 F.

    I was very lucky because when I called Direct Energy and explained how sick my aunt was, they had a service person there around 5:30 Sunday evening. He said the water problem was caused by a poor installation and told my aunt the air conditioner was probably low on freon gas. He would arrange for another service person to fix it on Monday.

    My aunt called me Monday morning because she hadn’t heard from anyone at Direct Energy, so I started calling them around 9:30 A.M. On 3 occasions, I waited on hold for over 5 minutes, then I heard a click and my connection was cancelled.

    As you can imagine I was getting very upset, so I decided to call Ms. Mirabell Palma as a last resort. She made some calls and a service person arrived at my aunt’s around 1:30 Monday afternoon.

    My aunt gave him some notes I had prepared so she wouldn’t have to explain everything, but he said he couldn’t read my notes and gave them back to her. My wife is a senior contract administrator and I had asked her to read the notes just to make sure I had made myself perfectly clear.

    He checked out the reason for the water leak and said he would be back today (Tuesday) to fix it. But he refused to turn on the air conditioner and check it out or attempt in any way to solve the main reason for the service call — that being the air conditioner wasn’t cooling the house.

    Last night at 5:45 P.M., I called Ms. Palma’s after hours number. Even though it has a message saying they will call back within 4 hours, nobody called me back. This morning, I left a message on her daytime number and her after hours number (just in case she clears it during the day), but nobody called me back. I called the daytime number twice more with no luck.

    Finally at 11:05 A.M. today, I got smart and dialed *67 first, then her number, and she answered immediately. She promised to check with the service manager and get back to me and it’s now 12:30 P.M. and I still haven’t received a call from her.

    Ms. Mirabell Palma
    Direct Energy
    Daytime: 905-943-6893
    After Hours: 416-758-8989

    I finally got a call from Ms. Palma at 2:00 P.M., three hours after I spoke to her about how poorly my aunt was being treated. She said a service person would be at her house between 2-6 P.M. today and he was booked there for 2-3 hours.

    At 5:00 P.M., I got a call from my aunt to say the water leak was fixed and the air conditioner was definitely low on freon gas. That’s why no matter how long it ran, it wouldn’t cool her house.

    In my humble opinion, either of the 2 previous service persons could have easily tested the system and found that was the problem and fixed it. Even if the first service person who came on Sunday evening was unable or unqualified to repair the leak, the 2nd service person on Monday should have come prepared to make that repair and add more freon gas.

    If this problem happened to a family or a single parent, someone in the family unit would have had to take at least 2 days off work to get the necessary repairs and that would (in most cases) cost them 2 days’ lost wages. That doesn’t take into consideration the hours of frustration trying to book an appointment in the first place, let alone trying to find out when the follow-up service call will be, because they don’t contact you with that info.

    In our case, the first service person on Sunday doesn’t seem to have booked a follow-up appointment and if he did, neither I or my aunt was notified.

    Off topic slightly, the dispatcher I spoke to on Sunday afternoon also told me to make sure my aunt or someone stayed by the door, because their service people are so busy that they move on to the next call very quickly if nobody answers the door in a hurry.

    I thought having that special contact number for Ms. Palma would solve all my problems and it still took me from Sunday at 2:00 P.M. until today (Tuesday) at 5:00 P.M. to get the problem resolved. To do that, I was forced to stay at home and spend hours waiting for a response that all too often never came until I called them back. As my wife says, we are very fortunate I can waste almost 3 days chasing these people to fulfill the obligations they assume when we purchase a service agreement from them.

    All this while we were having a family member going in for cancer surgery tomorrow when we should be trying to gather our strength for a very stressful medical procedure.

  35. Marjory

    Jul 23 2008

    I thought there was some kind of consumer protection introduced after all the scams with door-to-door vaccuum cleaner salespeople around contracts discussed at the door.

    It seems to me that the Ministry of Consumer Affairs should be investigating these complaints to rein in these American shysters!

  36. Elise

    Jul 25 2008

    I am a first time homebuyer. My experience with Direct Energy has tought me a valuable lesson. I want to share what I have learned with others, especially new home buyers in the Ottawa region.

    This comment contains:
    - links to reliable sources
    - the actual laws that protect us customers
    - Direct Energy’s (DE) Early Exit Fees information
    - my own personnal experience and the lessons I learned.

    You can never be too informed when it comes to natural gas prices and the decisions you need to make. Here is a useful link about natural gas and the services available in the Ottawa region:

    Brochure from Ontario Energy Board with basic information we should have as a customer : http://www.oeb.gov.on.ca/OEB/_Documents/Consumer+Brochures/brochure_natgas_200802.pdf

    DIRECT ENERGY CAME TO MY DOOR

    A sales representative from Direct Energy came to my door to sign us up for our natural gas account. I remembered seeing the Direct Energy sticker on our hot water tank. I also remembered seeing the Embridge sticker on our furnace. This indicated to me that the company was trustworthy and that I needed their service to continue using my hot water tank.

    The sales representative explained the protection plans for natural gas and said that I needed to contact Enbridge to make sure that my account was set up. What then is the relation between Enbridge and DE? His answer wasn’t clear, but I understood that they somehow worked together. He then took out a bill sample that had the Enbridge logo on it. I assumed that both companies worked together.

    He also told me, after I asked, that they were the only company from which we could buy natural gas. There, I had it : they were my only option, their sticker was on our hot water tank. I assumed it was the right choice. It was not.

    Direct Energy, NOT MY ONLY OPTION?

    I called Enbridge the next day to make sure that my account had been set up. I mentioned the Direct Energy salesperson and wanted to confirm with Enbridge the relationship between them. That’s when I learned that I could have bought my gas from Enbridge. I felt very angry that I was lied to.

    A couple of days later, a sales rep from another energy company (I forget the name) came to my door offering the same service as Direct Energy. I did not hesitate to tell him that I had signed with Direct Energy and was lied to. This guy then took out the Direct Energy booklet I had received, with the terms and conditions, and showed me the passage about Early Exit Fees.

    EARLY EXIT FEES

    If you terminate a contract with DE before your time is up, you will be charged $200 a month (plus other expenses) for the duration of that period. The terms and conditions also state that if you move outside Ontario or to an area where Direct Energy cannot service you, you will be charged Early Exit Fees.

    I called Direct Energy this week and the agent told me something completely different from what I read. She said that if you move outside the province, you need to provide DE with proof that you are moving at least 30 days before your moving date. They will cancel your contract without charging you any fees.

    If you are moving into an area where natural gas is not available (no gas lines), you need to notify them at least 30 days prior to your moving date and your contract will be cancelled without fees.

    The salesperson who came to my door did not go into these details. He only mentioned that if I moved in Ontario, my account would be switched to my new address, and that if I moved outside the province, my contract would be terminated. He didn’t mention any early exit fees. And I did not think to ask about them either.

    I still do not know if I would be charged Early Exit Fees if I decided to move to another province or to a place where there is no service. It’s the call centre representative’s words against the terms and conditions. I think the terms and conditions would hold up better in court… so beware.

    FALSE INFORMATION : A DE PLAN THAT DOES NOT EXIST

    I wanted more information. I felt lied to. I had signed a contract too fast, thinking it was my only option. I then conducted research, comparing what Direct Energy had to offer me and what Enbridge could offer.

    I was deceived once again. The sales rep from DE had told me they would call me back within the month to confirm which plan we wanted for our natural gas: a fixed plan with a fixed rate or a variable plan with variable rates. When I called Direct Energy to inquire about the variable plan, I was told that no such plan existed. They had stopped offering variable plans in 2005. This took me by surprise, seeing as they had a page on variable plans on their website: http://www.directenergy.com/EN/Ontario/RES/Pages/GAS/VariableRateFAQs.aspx

    First, I was actually told by a call rep at DE that the variable plan was only available through an online offer and that it was new. I decided to call back to talk to another representative who was very helpful. She even talked to her supervisor to make sure she was giving me the right information. The variable plans only exist for electricity, not for natural gas.

    To top that off, she could see the rate I was given on my contract, 43.5 cents per cubic metre. She said that I should have been offered a rate of 36.9 cents per cubic metre, because I am a new customer.

    She offered to cancel the existing contract because I had been given false information and because my rate was too high. She said that she could sign me up for the new rate in a new contract. I said I would think about it and call them back if I was interested.

    CANCELLING A CONTRACT: OUR RIGHTS AS CUSTOMERS

    #1. A contract (some exceptions, see below) is not active unless you reaffirm it. A representative from the company will call you back to reaffirm. If you do not reaffirm, your contract will not be activated.

    Here is the law (Ontario Energy Board Act 1998, Section 88.9):

    Once you sign a contract for the purchase of natural gas or electricity, as a general rule it will not remain in effect unless you confirm that you wish to accept the contract. This process is called “contract reaffirmation”, and it applies in all but a few circumstances (see “When Reaffirmation Is Not Required”, below).

    The rules that apply to contract reaffirmation are as follows:

    1. Starting on the 10th day after you have received a written copy of the contract, the marketer or retailer is permitted to contact you to ask you to reaffirm your acceptance of the contract.

    2. At that point you may choose to reaffirm your acceptance of the contract, or you may choose not to do so. If you notify the marketer or retailer that you do not wish to reaffirm the contract, you cannot be required to pay any cancellation fees or penalties.

    3. If you do not reaffirm the contract by the 61st day after you received a written copy, the contract will no longer be in effect as of that date. Again, you will then have no obligations under the contract as of that date, and you cannot be required to pay any cancellation fees or penalties.

    4. If you reaffirm the contract and then decide at a later date to cancel it, you may have to pay a cancellation fee. The cancellation fee or the method by which it will be calculated must be stated in your contract.

    Typically, the marketer or retailer will phone you to ask you to reaffirm your acceptance of the contract. If you reaffirm by phone, the marketer or retailer must record the phone call, and the recording must be given to you if you request it. You also have the option of reaffirming or refusing to reaffirm by giving written notice to the marketer or retailer.

    Always ask for a reference number when you cancel a contract on the phone.

    Summary of law : http://www.oeb.gov.on.ca/OEB/For+Consumers/Your+Energy+Options/Contracts+-+Consumer+Protection+Rules
    Actual law : http://www.search.e-laws.gov.on.ca/en/isysquery/db272a39-ed3a-4f60-89ec-b96d800fbcb3/3/frame/?search=browseStatutes&context=

    #2. Send a registered letter or a fax to the company, stating that you want to cancel all existing contracts with them. This tip was given to me by a customer rep at the Ontario Energy Board and by a customer rep at Enbridge.

    Here is the law (Consumer Protection Act 2002), taken from the DE terms and conditions:

    If this Agreement was entered in person at a place other than our place of business, a trade show or an exhibition, the following excerpt from the Consumer Protection Act 2002 applies: “You may cancel this agreement at any time during the period that ends 10 days after the day you received a written copy of the agreement. You do not need to give the supplier a reason for cancelling during this 10-day period.”

    HOW I CANCELLED MY CONTRACT (10 DAY COOLING OFF PERIOD)

    I cancelled over the phone with DE, writing down the reference number. I also filed a complaint against the sales rep that came to my door for giving me the wrong rate and the wrong information.

    I also wrote a letter in order to make sure that my cancellation would be treated seriously. I added the reference number to the letter as well. I sent it by fax to 2 different numbers given to me by 2 different reps at DE. One of the numbers was incorrect, as I received a call the next day from an individual who had received my fax at his private residence. Luckily, I could rely on the other number to be correct.

    I also took no chance and sent an email to cancel.request@DirectEnergy.com. I got an automatic response saying that it had been received.

    UNDERSTANDING YOUR ENBRIDGE BILL

    https://portal-plumprod.cgc.enbridge.com/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=243&PageID=0&cached=true&mode=2&userID=2

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    We as customers need to be more informed. Please keep in mind:

    Enbridge is the utility. They bring the gas to your house. You will be billed by Enbridge (or your local utility), no matter who you decide to buy gas from.

    Direct Energy is a marketer. They sell you gas. Enbridge will bill you on behalf of Direct Energy for the natural gas.

    Know your rights as customers. If you have signed a contract and want to get out of it, send a letter of cancellation request within your 10-day coolling off period. Do not reaffirm your contract when the marketer (DE) calls you, if you do not want to continue with them.

    I hope my experience and my little investigation helps at least one person out there. We have to be vigilant and aware of these things. We have to be responsible consumers. I think I’m one step closer to it now.

  37. Mike

    Jul 28 2008

    Dec 07: DE called me, I owe $500. We moved, now on oil. DE said ok, you owe nothing.

    June 08: CGC collection letter claimed I owe $500. Called them. Had to prove I’m on oil. Faxes sent of oil contract, plus copy of first bill.

    CGC letters kept arriving. “You have at plenty of time bla bla”.

    Called DE, my case “was going to go” supervisor. I asked them to call me when they find my fax and everything is OK. Got nothing.

    Got another CGC collections letter. Then, a CGC phone message.

    After trying to call CGC, they put me on hold. “There are…5… people waiting…”. After half an hour, it said “we’re sorry, we cannot take your call right now, please leave a message.”

    Direct Energy is just R_I_D_I_C_U_L_O_U_S. Why on earth do these shyssters get to continue to operate their little scam here?

    Can someone *please* get their license revoked or something? I just don’t know what to do. I keep faxing letters and oil contracts, but they continue to insist I owe them $500 for cancelling early.

  38. Omair

    Jul 30 2008

    Hi Ellen,

    I have had the protection plan for over 3 years and now that I moved into another location where I am renting and can’t continue with the plan, I have been told that I will have to pay for the entire year. I feel that I am being punished for being a tenant and there is no way out of their so called self renewable contract.

    I don’t understand how a contract renews itself…I have been a Rogers and Bell customer (who have contracts on pretty much every service they have) and I have never had a contract that renewed itself.

    I am very disappointed at the type of service I received…I made 3 calls and each time the representative basically started using the contract as an excuse to charge me for the entire year. I am not sure who to turn to as they will be sending me a bill of almost $400 even though I will not be using the plan.

  39. Kelly

    Aug 5 2008

    Direct Energy is a complete farce. I cancelled my contract in writing in May ’07, which would have taken effect in Oct. ’07. It is now Aug. ’08 and I still cannot get out of the contract.

    Echo the complaints, multiple people who never act on what they say, followed by a remittance for cancellation of natural gas contract b/c I’m cancelling early and it’s not till Oct. ’08. Ha! ya right! check your frickin paperwork. So frustrating. And they continue to bill me for the higher rate.

    I’m writing this while on hold for 40 minutes. I have talked to 3 different people. NOBODY can help!

    They must have high turnover. Who would want to work there when they are completely SHADY?

  40. James

    Aug 5 2008

    I did a search (Mirabell Palma) after trying to deal with customer service at Direct Energy to see if I was the only one with this issue & experience.

    They came to replace the water heater in my house after 15 years, and did a terrible job installing it, breaking up my finished concrete floor to access the drain hole so the workers could just feed a hose from the hot water tank down it to drain it.

    They did not take the construction boots off, put no mats down and paid no attention to my hardwood floors finish, or marks made on it.

    I emailed Ms. Palma and received an email saying the matter would be looked into, and she would get back to me. She never did, despite my attempts to contact her and resolve the issue of the bad install(vent tube is right up against heating duct work and vibrates every time water tank turns on).

    As well, the broken concrete floor was sealed beforehand and the workers broke the floor around the drain cover to get the cover off and access the drain hole, but they have damaged the floor!!

    I also needed to replace the furnace and found out that there was a recall on the heat exchanger for the particular model I had. Direct Energy was supposed to have retrofitted it with a new heat exchanger because it was defective and would cause carbon monoxide leaks. They never did, despite servicing the furnace, more than once, in the 14 years we owned it.

    As original owners of the house, we were covered under warranty to have the exchanger replaced. Direct Energy NEVER replaced it, never acknowledged it, and never advised me of it … till I complained about the furnace and they inspected it and red flagged it. (This was in the middle of January and we were with no heat for over a week. I live in Barrie,Ont.) Then they sent a salesperson to sell me a new furnance for $6,000, but never even responded to my questions of why can’t it be repaired?

    I used a local heating and air conditioning company I found out all about the deception and dishonesty of Direct Energy through them.

    I have since talked to may people, and I am amazed at how often Ms. Mirabell Palma is mentioned and the lack of customer service Direct Energy provides.

    Disgusting.

  41. Siobhan

    Aug 18 2008

    Thankfully, my mother does not have her credit tarnished and have to pay a harsh fee. But now we must deal with Universal Power with a supplier problem. The company said we signed a contract with them on Jan. 31, 2008, exactly on the same date as Direct Energy. The original contract was for a Protection Price Program, not supplying energy. Nor did it ever say that we are willing to be supplied by Wholesale Energy Group Co., recently taken over by Universal Power.

    My mother and I have recently, and once again, asked for help from our local MPP. I hope his office will once again help us.

    There is a Consumer Act that is supposed to protect the consumer. Frankly it is just words. We’ll never sign anything unless we know — everything. Door to door people are never welcomed here.

    Hope everything goes well with others.

  42. Richard

    Aug 21 2008

    I am supposed to pay a company $1,320 when not only have they provided me with no service, but I never approached the company and requested anything to begin with. Can this be true?

    Earlier this summer, my wife started receiving phone calls from a representative of Direct Energy. Their claim is that someone came to our door in February and one of us (it couldn’t possibly have been one of our four children!) signed a “contract”. They also claim a phone call was made in March to confirm this.

    February here in Ottawa was in the depths of snow. If I was the one who signed anything (I have no recollection), it would have been in the evening as I was working every day and at the weekends. It’s difficult to see how I could forget someone wading through metres of snow to the door to have a “contract” signed. I have no copy of any contract and I can’t remember seeing one.

    As for the phone call in March, I have a vague recollection of someone asking me about whether I wanted to be part of a “plan”. But I remember thinking they were asking about our Total Home Protection Plan, which is a contract we do have with Direct Energy.

    However, when I finally spoke to the caller in the summertime, it turned out to be the “Gas Protection Plan” he was referring to. He now told me I had to choose whether I wanted to remain with Direct Energy or not. You see we already had a supplier: Superior Energy.

    And there I was thinking I was paying Enbridge for my gas (after all, that’s the name on my bill). This was getting absurd. But wait a minute! If I chose to cancel with Direct Energy, I would have to pay $1,320.

    I then called Enbridge, which knew of no contract with Direct Energy. I called Superior Energy and they confirmed I was under contract with them.

    I called a different number at Direct Energy (I think it was the billing department) and they said I had no contract other than for the water heater and the Total Home Protection Plan. So I called back the original number. (It must have been the marketing department.) I said it seems I don’t have a contract with Direct Energy. It was a different speaker than the original caller and he just said, “OK, thank you, and have a good day.”

    I thought that was that — until this morning, when I got letter asking me to pay an “Early Termination Charge” of $1,320 by the 25th of August – in four days! – otherwise they would call in a collection agency.

    I immediately called the Ontario Energy Board and I was told to phone Justin Raymond to ask for a copy of my signed contract and a recording of the reaffirmation call. I tried calling all day but I only received a recorded message. I tried calling the number on this final letter. But every time I called, I got a message saying there were 17 (or 16) callers ahead of me. Or I got a line with a busy tone.

    This whole situation is deeply disturbing. I feel like I am trapped in some Kafkaesque novel – only this is a late capitalist version. If I were wealthy, I suppose I might consider just paying them. But in fact we are seriously in debt as it is, and I do not have the money to pay them.

    What can I do?

  43. Chris

    Aug 22 2008

    I just received the same letter as the poster above (with same dates, 4 days to pay, right)?

    I called and after an hour of busy signals, I finally got the chance to listen to the automated voice saying wait times are 30 minutes. I just set my phone to speaker and waited. I finally talked to someone and he said he couldn’t help me. But he forwarded my file to someone that will get in touch with me.

    Anyone think that’ll happen? I know I’ll be calling and checking in every morning!

    I do know that a company can’t send your file to a collection agency unless they contact you 3 times about the problem. Hopefully this will buy us some time. If anyone does get hold of someone that can help, please let us know!!

  44. KT

    Aug 22 2008

    Why do marketers like Direct Energy charge such a big penalty? That’s what I’ve been asking myself.

    The argument that they start to risk exposure on purchases surely is only a modest part of the reason. They should be able to estimate their needs month to month reasonably well (since estimating market risk is supposedly their business specialty).

    Presumably a key part of it is they don’t want to be out the commission fee they paid to browbeat the new customer.

    It would be nice if there was a mechanism to leave the marketer, and their commissioned sales contractors, with some downside for dissatisfied new customers who want to cancel.

    If customers were given 30 days after first bill to cancel, this would seem to give such a downside risk. If it applied to all marketers, it should not leave undue risk or advantage to any one company. A sort of control on misleading advertising.

  45. HELP!

    Sep 22 2008

    Dear Ellen,
    I came upon your website as I searched for information on Direct Energy. I am dealiing with a problem for weeks now and was absolutely horrified when I read previous postings. I am in complete disbelief that this company is still allowed to operate.

    This is my story:

    My parents decided to replace their electric water heater with gas. I called DE for information on the process and costs involved. I was told the only charges associated with the exchange would be if:

    a) there wasn’t an electrical outlet within 6 feet of the tank

    b) the furnace was more than 10 feet away from the tank

    c) a hole had to be drilled out of the wall to power vent it out.

    Well, since my parents recently put in a brand new gas furnace, they had all the “hook-ups” in place. The hole was already drilled in the wall, complete with piping. The furnace was less than 10 feet away and finally, the electrical outlet was 1 foot away from the water tank. I was assured that there would be absolutely no charges if all the “hook-ups” were already in place.

    I called THREE TIMES to verify that there would be no hidden fees. I was assured that there were no additional charges. They sent a contractor to install the new water heater a few days later. This is when it all went bad.

    The guys who did the work made my parents (who do not speak English fluently) sign the work order with a charge of over $200. My father figured there has to be an explanation for the charge and he would get me to look into it.

    I have documented every person’s name and date I called. I have been passed around from department to department. No one returns calls. I am sure they screen their calls with call display. I have been given the complete runaround as to why they were charged.

    Someone in “Customer Care”, who claimed to be a “Manager”, told me that the charges were for “replacing” the tank. I told him that I was assured there were no “replacement” charges, only monthly rental charges ($20) for the tank. He basically told me too bad, you signed the work order you are responsible.

    I asked him to make a 3-way call to the sales department so that we could both hear firsthand what I was told. He refused. I hung up the phone and made yet another call to the sales department. I waited over half an hour on hold at 7:30 in the morning. I’m sure half of Ontario was waiting on cue to be connected to DE!

    I called later in the day from work and was assured that someone from sales would call me back. Five days later, I am still waiting. As far as I am concerned, they have committed FRAUD! Please help!
    P.S. What was the outcome for John Gross?

  46. Joshua Orzech, Direct Energy spokesman

    Sep 23 2008

    We have resolved Mr. Gross’ concern and provided him with a credit of $455.70 as a result of our delay in installing his gas-powered water heater.

  47. HELP! (update)

    Sep 26 2008

    Someone from sales finally called me back. She happened to be the person who booked the service to begin with. I was told that she would contact the “field manager” as to why the charges were billed.

    Here we go again. That same field manager was supposed to call me two weeks ago. Four days later and still waiting for a reply.

    Every time I speak to someone they seem to make up an excuse as to why there was a charge. Oh ya, apparently the “Customer Care” department was sent a “memo” about their misinforming customers that DE sends out people to give quotes before the work is done (as I was told). They actually charge for that service.

    Do these different departments work for the same company?

  48. Finally got HELP!

    Sep 26 2008

    Ellen, you are awesome! I wrote to you in the early hours of the morning and before I even had my coffee this morning, “Andrea” from the “executive support team” at Direct Energy called me and resolved the issue to my satisfaction. She even offered an apology.

    I just wished I had written to you sooner before I completely lost all faith in this company. Words can’t express my gratitude to you. THANK YOU!!!

  49. Betty Newhouse

    Oct 12 2008

    The same thing again. In 2008, I have been reading about this scam from 2003! What are we supposed to do?

    I have to pay a cancellation fee to Universal Energy because someone from Direct Energy talked my daughter’s boyfriend into giving them our gas bill. Now Direct Energy wants us to send them a copy of our driver’s licence or passport for signature authenticity.

    There’s no way we’ll do that. They might sell it and I’ll have my identity stolen!! How can they get away with all this?? Thanks for listening

  50. Barney

    Oct 15 2008

    Listen to all the complaints. I started working for enbridge when it was Consumers Gas (note where the capitals are) and it was a great place to work, fair pay and a homelike atmosphere, quality not quantity.

    I was proud to wear the flame and I stuck my chest out so people would see it. We had support from the community and people would stop and talk nicely to us, thus CONSUMER’S Gas. People felt a part of us. Service was good response was good, we were respected, none of this 6 days with no heat stuff. If you happened to be a golden ager or mentioned pregnancy or illness, the calls were prioritized to those more severely in need.

    Then along came deregulation, and with it enbridge. That brought major change, which eventually escalated into lousy service. The only worry became the almighty buck. You know shareholders and fatter pockets, not keeping people warm or providing a great service.

    Key people lost jobs and more were not replaced. Of course the upper esh were properly packaged off with your money. But who cares?

    I then started hiding my shirt logo and keeping a low as possible profile, only because of the many pissed off people out there that were ready to kill me because I worked for them.

    Had my jacket on once in the doctors office and a guy says “you work for enbridge”? I replied with “no, a friend gave me the jacket”. Good thing because he went into a rant that raised his blood pressure a few notches.

    Anyway, I could (as my friends say) go on and on, but I think what I said sums up today’s poor service industries. It’s all about quantity, not quality. When will the pendulum swing back? I hope I see it. In the meantime, don’t get ulcers over what you can’t control.

  51. Mary

    Nov 7 2008

    Me and my brother were also victimized by these people. I hope one of these days, there will be a class action law suit against Direct Energy. They only contribute headaches and problems to all customers. Therefore, what is the point of this company being in existence?

    Direct Energy employees breach privacy, confidentiality and consumer laws. They should be reprimanded on all the actions they used on customers.

    Direct Energy should fire all its customer services in their Call Centre as they are all unprofessional, untrained, rude, and neanderthals.

  52. Guy

    Nov 14 2008

    I hate Direct Energy. Horrible customer support. I got charged a $1,500 cancellation fee for moving. They also sent that bill to collections right away. The catch was that I’m still a customer. lol

    They got rid of the fee, but I now see how frustration could mount with these a-ho!@%. The 1-800 runaround… call here, then here.. you must call here..

    This is the type of stuff that annoys people to no end.

  53. Patrick

    Nov 14 2008

    I’m glad I found this site. I had a feeling if I did a quick search I would find many others with distasteful experiences similar to my own. I regret not doing my homework beforehand.

    This is a warning to potential customers to stay far away from this awful corporate citizen if at all possible, because they are completely devoid of business ethics. Please be more careful than I was.

    I’ve had a water heater contract with Direct Energy since they took over from Enbridge a few years ago. I never had any issue with it. In the winter of 2006/2007, our furnace broke down in the middle of the night but we were able to find a technician through the yellow pages and it was fixed in a few hours for a couple of hundred dollars and was not a large deal.

    In July of 2007, I had the bright idea of signing up for a service contract (inspired by the furnace problem the previous winter) which covered the furnace, air-conditioning, electrical, plumbing and all major appliances. This all cost about $65 a month.

    Immediately they started double-billing and I just paid for the first couple of months until I had time to call them and resolve it. When I finally did call them, I was on the phone for 90 minutes trying to convince them I didn’t own two homes, which sort of explains my lack of urgency in calling them in the first place.

    I was told after that ordeal someone would call me back to clarify everything was in order. Nobody called back.

    Over the next few months, I noticed on my bills I was getting credited although it seemed at times like it might have been more than I was entitled to. Then they started double-billing again.

    I waited again for a couple of months and it eventually sorted itself out and the bills began showing the proper amount. I hope I didn’t overpay in the end. The invoices are such a mess it’s a nightmare to figure out and I never bothered, along with dreading another 90 minute phone call which I am convinced is an essential component of their operating procedure. But that’s not the reason for my vent.

    From then until now, all we have needed them for was two furnace inspections which cost us $,1040 in service contract fees over 16 months. How much would that have cost if we had used a local contractor? Far less I suspect.

    When we signed up, we could afford it because my wife was working and we felt the peace of mind was worth the cost, kind of like how insurance works. Upon further review, I now realize that in reality their service contract is merely a scam and not worth the price by a long shot.

    I will never sign up for a service contract again. It’s just not worth it in my opinion. You don’t need a contract to get a service person in the middle of a winter night, as there are plenty of options in the phone book. You will most likely receive faster service as well.

    I could give dozens of other reasons for its uselessness, mostly economic, i.e. a $45 charge for each service call. Live and learn, I guess.

    My wife lost her job well over a year ago and shortly after developed some health problems that will likely keep her from working ever again. Consequently with one income, it has become impossible to keep up with expenses and we were forced to sell our home. Bankruptcy is just around the corner. Needless to say, any repairs in the home are now the responsibility of the new owners.

    When I tried to cancel the service, I learned about DE’s ‘convenient’ automated contract renewal process. Of course it was pointed out to me that this information is contained in the 10 pages (literally) of fine print they sent me a year and a half earlier. Apparently I was supposed to run this by a lawyer for review before signing up.

    I naively assumed that I was only obligated for the first year and beyond that it would go month-to-month like many similar types of contracts I have signed. Other contracts have a specific expiry date.

    Cell phones, for example, require you to sign a new contract when the old one expires. I had a similar experience with a health club about twenty years ago and never considered that a large utility would employ the same kind of shady tactic. Unfortunately, that experience happened so long ago and was all but forgotten until dealing with this band of thieves.

    It has become apparent to me that Direct Energy is exploiting the ignorance of their customers (including myself) when it comes to contracts. They, at the very least, rely heavily on basic human nature and our natural reluctance to wade through pages of microscopic fine print and legal jibber-jabbering.

    I was cut off the first time I phoned when being transferred to another department. The next customer rep I spoke to seemed to take some kind of fiendish delight when explaining my contractual obligations. I was told I had the opportunity back in July not to renew the contract. Apparently I was supposed to know in July that I would be broke in November and forced to sell my home.

    I was given the option to transfer my contract to my new residence. When I advised I would be renting and not owning, the rep said that’s okay it makes no difference to them. I pointed out how ridiculous that is since the landlord is responsible for these things on a rental property. There was no response but I could sense the smirk on her face at the other end of the phone, which would match the condescending tone I had been dealing with up to that point.

    She then glibly offered me their only two options, which are… to renew or not renew the contract next July in 2009. At the end of this very heated conversation, I was asked if there was anything else she could ‘help’ me with and I replied that she had not helped me with anything at all. Then there was the usual insincere ‘have a nice day’ at the end.

    I was left with the impression that this rep was probably snickering after our phone call about another one of their idiot customers who didn’t read the contract. I was left feeling like a sucker. In hindsight, I realize now that if I had been aware of this, I could have included it in the negotiations on the sale of our home.

    They expect me to pay them for the next 8 months for a useless contract, knowing they will never have to send anybody out to fix anything. They have already profited in a large way and what they are doing now is just a last minute money grab and nothing else. They have no concern for future business or profits earned in the past. Not a care in the world that I am outraged and will definitely tell everyone I know to avoid them like the plague.

    I said I had no intention of paying this (mainly because I don’t have the funds but also based on principle) and will go to court to fight them if I have to. I have no money, therefore nothing to lose.

    I requested a call back from someone higher up and was promised that a field manager would call me at work. Of course, I am still waiting and by the sounds of some of the other emails here, there is no need for me to stay close to the phone.

    I would love to see what percentage of profits they earn through these devious contracts where the customer no longer has a need for it yet is still obligated to pay and DE will never have to provide any service. Talk about a cash cow!

    For anyone considering signing a service contract with Direct Energy, be aware that at some point you will have to cancel it. Unless you plan on selling your house on the same day that the contract expires, you will be forced to carry it with you to your new home, or just pay it off, waste your money and provide much needed profits to this company that seems quite happy to sneak dollars out of your pocket.

    If you already have a contract, you need to ask yourself on the next renewal date, is it worth it and will you be in the residence the entirety of next year? Direct Energy expects you to be a fortune teller in this regard.

    I dearly hope that when this matter reaches a small claims court, the presiding judge has recently had the displeasure of having an annoying and persistent Direct Energy salesperson show up at their door during dinner time trying to con him or her into a natural gas contract.

    ** for Jason the DE apologist… I have never read such a line of bs in my life. Thanks for illustrating perfectly the attitude this company operates under. With your total disdain for your horrible customers, I’m surprised DE didn’t promote you to VP. I work for a larger company than DE and we got to be this size by treating ALL of our customers like gold. You would not last a week here.

  54. Rob

    Nov 27 2008

    My wife originally owned a a townhouse condo, then we got married and bought another house and rented her condo. Recently we sold our rental as of Dec. 31, 2008, and in turn cancelled our utilties for that date.

    Today, I received a letter from Direct Energy, stating we owe $456.44. Apparently, my wife signed up with them when she moved in a couple years back. So do we really have to pay this fee or are we getting ripped off? Please help us!!!!

  55. Leigh

    Dec 13 2008

    Just found this thread and thought I would share my experience. It started off when two young people showed up at my home (which actually my sister owned) and I was “tricked” (I know now) into signing my life away to DE for the next five years.

    Found this out when I moved and they stated that it was some obscene amount to cancel the contract. Even though I didn’t even own the property, I was under contract. so I accepted my stupidity and moved on with life, knowing in 3 years time I could tell them where to go.

    I did decide to sign up for the extended care plan, though, and today I’m glad I did or am I????

    Came home from a day of xmas shopping and it’s a chilly 58 in the house.. hmmm.. I knew what was wrong with it by doing a quick check on the furnace codes and the diagnosis is my ignition is shot.

    So I call up DE and tell them to get a tech out here.They tell me it’s going to cost $200 just to get him out here.

    Whoa, hold the phone. I got extended care. Oh we don’t have a record of it.. I do, it’s on the bill you send me every month. Oh we have the care for your previous place.

    The dude tells me that they and the service have no communication. What kind of company are you?

    He sent an email off to them and will get the transfer. OK, it’s not getting any warmer in here, get that tech out. He should call in an hour or 2 .. wahhh..

    Anyhow, he comes in and fixes the problem in less than 45 minutes.. so he shows me the no charge bill and it would have been $460.. damn a $258 part.

    I got to find this online and see what it actually costs. Well, Google assured me that I could get it delivered to my door for about $30 ($15 for the part and $15 for the shipping coming from the States).

    How can the company sell a product for $258 that sells regularly after some more searching for $50 retail?

    3 years and counting..

  56. Leigh

    Dec 13 2008

    i forgot to mention that its minus 27 in calgary today..

  57. Vern

    Dec 16 2008

    I have had more than my share of bad experiences with Direct Energy.

    I just moved from Calgary to a small town at the end of October. About the first week in October, I realized that my bill had not come in the mail at my previous address in Calgary, so I called Direct Energy on their Hostage Negotiation line to find out if it had been sent.

    Direct Energy informed me that Atco Gas had decided to change the billing cycle. Of course, they gave absolutely no notice whatsoever.

    I informed them that a double bill at that time of the month was going to cause me financial difficulty and I would not be able to pay because of the expenses from the long distance move. I wanted them to send the bill, estimated or otherwise, for the regular cycle and then the rest when I switched the account at the end of October.

    After explaining to two or three different people my situation, I finally got some lead hand that sounded like she was 12 years old. This lead hand told me that in their normal uppity and condescending tone that under no circumstances would they send me an interim statement, estimated or otherwise. After about an hour of exhausting discussions, I gave up.

    Now, here’s the kicker. The beginning of November, I am checking the mail at my new address and I find not one but three envelopes from Direct Energy. I opened all three to find the final bill from my previous address in the first envelope, a second copy of the same bill in the second envelope and in the third envelope I found a bill for $1.23 (that’s right, one dollar and twenty three cents) in late charges on my unpaid balance.

    What I cannot understand is why they could not split the bill and help me out back in October, but they were able to waste one dollar in postage plus labor and paper to send two duplicate bills and a bill for one dollar and twenty three cents a month later.

    I have been reading from former employees of Direct Energy on this site who say that people don’t understand and they get angry and yell at them over the phone. I appologise to any of these poor people who have had the misfortune of working for this company because I know that they are powerless to change idiotic policies. All they can do is what they are empowered to do and it’s not their fault.

    As I stated before, I have had numerous other ordeals with Direct Energy and they are no different than any other large company. The only difference between utility companies and other companies is that utilities have legal monopolies and we can’t go elsewhere (or can we?).

    My goal is to be completely rid of utility companies within two years of this comment and I challenge everyone else on this site to do the same. Let’s show these companies that we don’t have to be their slaves and hit them where they live. The bottom line.

    There are alternative energy sources out there. Geothermal, solar and wind. I am going to heat my garage with a wood burning stove, put a fireplace in my living room, look into wind and solar power generation and even try to heat a small workshop with compost.

    For people talking about contracts, if you read the fine print, you will notice a statement to the effect that you declare that you are OK with Direct Energy making a profit from selling you energy. Under regulated utilities, it is illegal for utility companies to make a profit from the sale of the energy commodity.

    Why do you think companies like Direct Energy try to lie, trick and bully you into signing? I will never sign one of these contracts in a million years because of that clause.

  58. Johnnycanuck

    Dec 16 2008

    Hi, I recently contacted Hydro One to start equal billing. I find the winter utility payments a bit taxing, so I thought this option would help through the more costly months.

    The Hydro One rep told me that I could be put on equal billing, but since Direct Energy was my provider, I could end up paying a large catch-up bill since their rates were higher. I was shocked. I had never entered into a contract with Direct Energy.

    I immediately contacted Direct Energy, who told me that I had signed a contract in 2007 and I was bound to it. I make a point of sending these door to door pressure sales guys packing and would never have signed anything with them.

    The customer service rep told me there was nothing further they could do. I asked them to send me a copy of the contract and they agreed. They suggested I call back (the same number) if there was an issue with the contract once I received it.

    What I received in the mail was a CD recording of my ex-wife entering into a contract with Direct Energy at her current address. She did so long after we were legally separated and we had no legal obligation to each other.

    I’m not sure how Direct Energy got my address, as the recording clearly identifies her current residence, but that was all I needed to hear. I called to tell them what the situation was. I spent several frustrating minutes telling the customer service representative they had made a mistake.

    The most they would do was offer to send me a copy of the contract again. Clearly they weren’t listening. I persisted, but they wouldn’t let me speak to anyone else or give me an alternate contact number. They finally agreed to file a complaint on my behalf, but couldn’t tell me how long it would take to resolve.

    I asked for the number of someone to contact directly if I hadn’t heard, and was given a 416 number.(which I later tried and it was a redirect to the same call centre I had just spoken to).

    I’m so frustrated about fighting to get out of a contract that I never entered into. Clearly they saw an opportunity to nab two fish with one hook.

    When I asked my ex why she signed with them, she said the representative appeared at her door and told her she had to to continue service. A separation can be a trying time for anyone, and I certainly feel that she may have been pressured into something when she was vulnerable.

    So we’re both stuck at the mercy of a faceless company which doesn’t seem to have any interest in hearing my arguments.

    What can I do ?

  59. Rosalynd Chapnik

    Dec 27 2008

    Hi Ellen, I too am a victim of Direct Energy. I signed a 1 year contract for gas on Aug. 23, 2007 at 25.5 cents, which expired Oct. 31, 2008.

    In September 2008, I received a renewal for 5 years at 49.9 cents. I called their customer support and told her I did not want to renew at that price. I was told if I wanted the contract to sign it, otherwise do nothing, because if I signed it I would be renewing the contract for a the new price.

    I asked if I had to do something as the contract was expiring. She told me to do nothing, as the contract would automatically expire as stated on Oct. 31, 2008, so I threw the contract away.

    I called again in early October and inquired again about the contract ending on Oct. 31, and was reasured that the contract did end on that date. I was offered a new price of 37.9 cents. I said I would think about it, so they should not renew the contract.

    I just received my December bill and almost fell off my chair. I am being charged 49.9 cents and the bill was over $300 for one month. I called Enbridge and was told they were not my supplier, Direct Energy was. I could not understand this as the contract had expired and I had no further notifications from Direct Energy.

    I called Direct Energy and found that without my permission or knowledge, they somehow renewed the contract for 1 year at 49.9 cents. I requested a copy of the contract to be mailed to me. I am still waiting for it. I have written two letters of complaint to them, asking for the release of my account to Enbridge, as I did not sign up with them again or give them permission to do this.

    I also called the Ontario Energy Board and sent copies of my letters to Direct Energy. I was told to wait 22 days for a response, which will bring me to the middle of January 2009. I cannot afford these bills. I am a senior widow trying to support my daughter and retain my house.

    I received a message on my phone from Direct Energy without a contact name stating that since I did not sign the cancellation notice sent to me, at their discretion they renewed my contract for 1 year at 49.9 cents and it would cost me to cancel early.

    The best he could do is offer me was 37.9 cents at this time. I wrote another letter on Dec. 19, demanding the release of my account. How could I sign a cancellation notice I never received? I didn’t know I had to do so by my many inquiries to Direct Energy.

    Direct Energy has to be stopped from duping their customers, giving them a set of instructions and then telling you this is not the case.

    Maybe we should start a class action suit against Direct Energy and their lousy business practices and I urge all to contact the Ontario Energy Board at 416-314-2455.

  60. lightfootfan

    Jan 1 2009

    There have been salespeople in my area, offering free hot water heaters and free installation. The rental price with the gas company will rise a few dollars a month apparently.

    Several neighbours have taken them up on the offer and had the heaters installed. They haven’t been to my place yet, but I wanted to get more info if possible.

    This is the firm that is going door-to-door: http://www.nationalhomeservices.ca/

    This website has a discussion about these issues and a reply from the Director of Communications at Direct Energy, as well as a comparison of cost to rent vs.own:

    http://www.redflagdeals.com/forums/showthread.php?t=674026

    I did some checking online and was wondering if this is true: Is Direct Energy supposed to check on their water heater rentals and after 10-15 years replace them, because the units corrode inside and are barely efficient after that time? The rust can also be a health hazard.

    I know at times my hot water is barely hot and I don’t even need to add cold water when having a shower or bath. If this is true, then I have been paying DE a monthly rental all these years for an inefficient heater that costs more to run, thus making DE more money!

    Renting a water heater costs more in the long run, but for those who can’t fund the cost of a new one it is cheaper in the short term.

    Happy New Year. Keep up the great work!

  61. Jane

    Jan 6 2009

    I worked for Direct Energy for 2 months, I haven’t got paid. I called every top leaders and until today, I still haven’t got paid.

    I need help!!!

  62. Jane

    Jan 6 2009

    Rob: Since I’ve been working for Direct Energy for 2 months, one thing I know is that when you move to another address, the previous contract is null and void.

    I don’t think you should pay that bill.

  63. Ali

    Jan 8 2009

    Direct Energy is the WORST company out there!! They tried to lock me into their gas contract and even lied. They are slow in service and a company to AVOID.

    I HATE DIRECT ENERGY but I’m stuck with them.

  64. Char

    Jan 9 2009

    UPDATE:

    I called DE on Monday to discuss the water heater issue. I decided to continue renting and have a new heater installed. It was done on Tuesday morning, no muss, no fuss and they even re-hooked up my humidifier system – no charge.

    The rental will continue as is and it’s nice to have instant hot water again- all the way to the opposite side of the house to my bathroom!

    A neighbour who had one installed by National Home Services had them come and remove it (about $300 charge) and had DE install one instead.

    thanks Ellen!
    Char

  65. Moune

    Jan 14 2009

    We also have the same problem as mentioned above. Get a load of this!

    Today, 13 Jan 09, we have received a letter from DE (dated 20 Dec 08!!! — brainlessly sent over the Christmas holiday season) claiming that we owe them a cancellation fee.

    According to DE, we signed a contract with them back in the fall of 2008 and since we are with another gas marketer, our contract with DE is being cancelled and therefore a cancellation charge of $1,400 is to be paid to DE by 3 Feb 09.

    Back in the fall, a door-to-door sales rep tried to convince us to sign an agreement, but we didn’t since we did not like their gas rate.

    Yesterday, after receiving DE’s letter, when we phoned on numerous occasions, we got multiple versions of a response. I guess the turnover of staff at DE must be high — resulting in untrained, unprofessional and uncaring people.

    In the end, we were told that a call was made to our house in Sept 08 to reaffirm our contract and they said we agreed to the contract. We replied that we did not receive a copy of the signed contract. To which they said that the recorded telephone conversation is the supposedly “signed” contract.

    After some research on the OEB website, we saw it stipulates that any cancellation fee calculation is to be substantiated in the “written” contract. So how the hell did they come up with $1,400 if all they have is a telephone conversation?

    I sent them an email asking for a signed copy of the contract that explains how this cancellation fee was calculated and also a copy of the recorded telephone conversation.

    In addition, I ask them that if this material takes 3 to 4 weeks to get to us, then they should extend the due date accordingly. Let’s see how long it takes them to get their act together.

    I guess that between the customer service and the accounts department at DE, the left hand doesn’t talk to the right hand.

    All I can say is that a reputable company will send a paper reminder by mail, followed by a courtesy phone call with regard to contract renewal. Also, any letters would be accompanied by copies of reference documents already enclosed.

    Companies that don’t do that as a minimum standard — well, they have something to hide.

    I think, like many of you, that a class action lawsuit is long overdue. For now, we will ignore their letters and see what kind of response we get.

    We don’t know how come this company is still in existence. It’s a big mystery to all of us.

  66. Garth

    Jan 24 2009

    Well, we rent a hot water heater from Direct Energy and we recently had the furnace inspected and repaired. They noticed the hot water tank was outdated and we should replace it, so they took the information and ordered one and called us back with a date to install it.

    But later that night, it started to leak from underneath so we called them. They told us to shut it off so we called them again and asked if they were going to come replace it since we had no hot water. They said no, you have an appointment for it to be replaced so we cannot do anything about it.

    Meanwhile as I type this, it’s day 3 and we have 5 more days till the dimwitted company we call Direct Energy comes to replace the hot water tank.

    What is considered a priority in their eyes? It’s the middle of winter, we have a furnace that’s working but no hot water, so no showers/baths, dishwasher won’t work and laundry is done in cold water.

    Why can’t they get their act together and think well, let’s see, people need heat and hot water to live. It’s only common sense but no, they don’t have any because they’re more interested in making money than keeping their customers happy,

    I’ll take a page from Wal-Mart’s book: the customer’s always number 1. But in Direct Energy’s eyes, number 1 is themselves making money.

    I’m surprised someone hasn’t taken this company to court. From what I read on this page, they are really a mis-managed company. So I ask why hasn’t anything been done to stop these guys from ripping us off and giving us the royal runaround the block playing phone tag??????

  67. ken reeves

    Jan 27 2009

    I’m writing to thank you very much for your prompt assistence to my problem with Direct Energy. They contacted me this afternoon to inform me that cancellation fees will be waived, since I’m on a disability pension.

    I’m am very grateful for your assistance in this matter and thanks from my family too. DE told me this matter falls under different circumstances due to my income source.

    If there was not anyone like you to help, I would have been in a whole heap of trouble. Thank you very much and keep up the good work.

  68. Patrica Moore

    Jan 28 2009

    I have a gas water heater, rented from Direct Energy. It’s only just over 4 years old.

    A young man from Universal Energy talked me into renting a brand new water heater from them. It sounded good and he said it is much more efficient, although it will cost $.25 more a month. He said it will save me money over the long haul.

    Is this correct? Can it really be much more efficient than one that is only 4 years old?

  69. Debbie F

    Jan 30 2009

    In July, I was just starting my maternity leave and was home with my newborn baby when there was a knock on my door. Standing there was a young lady who showed me her ID from Direct Energy and asked me if she could take a look at my bill.

    I told her that it wasn’t a very good time as I had a new baby waiting for me inside, but she said it would only take a few minutes, she just wanted to check something on my bill.

    During the time she was looking at my bill, she was trying to make small talk with me and I asked her what this was about. She seemed to be new on the job and fumbling for an answer. She finally told me that she was checking to see it I had price protection with my current plan and asked me to initial/sign a piece of paper.

    And that was it. She did not return my bill to me and at the time I didn’t think anything of it. As I was shutting the door, four men came out of a minivan that had been parked in front of my house and they came up my driveway and began talking to the agent that was just talking to me. I thought it seemed a little strange, but I had a baby inside that I needed to get to.

    In December, I was contacted by my current gas supplier (Ontario Energy Savings), which wanted to know if I was cancelling their service and switching to a different supplier. If I did proceed, they would have to charge me a cancellation fee for backing out of their contract early.

    I was a little confused and told them that I was not switching over to any other company. They advised me to contact DE and let them know that I would be remaining with Ontario Energy Savings.

    I immediately called DE, which said that was fine. I asked him if there would be a cancellation fee and he assured me that there would not be one. I even asked him about my maintenance protection plan, saying I wanted to continue with that, and he said they were two different things. Again, I made sure that there would be no cancellation fee and he agreed.

    In January, I received a letter (bill) from DE for $1,386 for an early termination charge. I was in shock and immediately called DE. The agent took the “too bad, so sad attitude.” She just kept telling me there was nothing she could do.

    After several minutes of pleading with her and with me now in tears, she suggested that she could file a complaint with their customer solutions department as a misrepresentation on my behalf. I agreed and she told me that it would take 2-3 days for the complaint to be filed and someone would contact me. Sure enough on the third day, I received a phone call from DE customer solutions, telling me they had received my complaint and it would now take 5-10 business days to investigate it.

    Last week (Wednesday), I was finally contacted by an agent from customer solutions. She told me that after the rep had come to my door, I’d received a call from DE. In that conversation, I had told the agent that I was not aware that I had signed a contract but ultimately agreed to having signed, therefore I had to honour the contract.

    I told the agent that I was confused. How is it that I told them I didn’t know I had signed, but agreed to it anyway? She said she would be happy to send me a copy of the conversation.

    I told her that I couldn’t afford this rate. It was more than the income I was receiving for my mat leave and there was no way I could pay this. All she could do was offer me an even better rate than I had signed for.

    I told her that wouldn’t help, because then I would have a cancellation fee to pay with my current supplier. She said that was true, but their fee would be much smaller than DE’s. Right now, my account is under investigation and there is a hold on the outstanding balance until further notice.

    So now I wait again. Every time my phone rings my stomach knots. I don’t know what I will do if we have to pay this money. We already have to budget everything. It’s difficult enough living on such a fixed income without having to worry about this weighing over us. I feel like I am at my wit’s end and don’t know what else I could do.

  70. Rob

    Feb 4 2009

    For those of you who have gas supplied by Direct Energy, you may be interested to know that they are using unscrupulous business practices and have been getting away with it, due to intentional misinterpretation of the law. I will explain how below.

    I was surprised to get my gas bill and discover that I somehow was renewed into a contract with them without my permission. I originally had a 1 year contract that expired in Nov 2008.

    I never received any literature from them and they automatically renewed me at twice the rate. When I called DE, their help desk (in India ) said that they can automatically renew the contract without consent. The Ontario Energy Board approves this practice.

    Their computer indicates they sent literature but I never received any, and by the look of it, others have been in the same situation. Just because a computer says so doesn’t mean it happened.

    I tried to cancel this so-called contract and they woudn’t do it. Then they indicated that they could offer me a slightly lower rate (still 50% higher than current market rate). This is how they try to lock you in.

    After much argument, they agreed to cancel my contract when I insisted that I would contact a lawyer, since they have no signed agreement from me and it this is fraud. They “said” they would cancel my contract but it would take 2 months to do so. I don’t trust them, so I went to the OEB.

    I lodged a formal complaint with the Ontario Energy Board and spoke to a representative there. He indicated to me that any gas contract signed before 2005 did have a legal 1-year automatic renewal clause. BUT any contract AFTER 2005 could not have the auto-renewal clause in it and DE was obligated to acquire a signature to commence a new or renew a contract. (The folks in India will deny this by the way.) Hence the confusion.

    How many people have been automatically renewed this way since 2005? I bet it is quite a few! DE knows this law, but has not updated their business processes nor their call centre in India. The folks there are providing incorrect information and are not willing to move forward to correct or cancel illegal billing practices by DE. They are capitalizing on the ignorance of the Canadian people and it has to stop.

    Where is the culpability of DE for not updating their business practices in light of the change in laws from post 2005 contracts and automatic renewals?

    This certainly warrants a class action suit. How does an average joe like me start one up?

  71. Kathy

    Feb 7 2009

    Hi, I am not sure what to do. I was visited by an agent this afternoon (I was napping with my 4 year old). So, I was not really thinking. I did not sign anything.

    He presented himself as working for some energy company (he just flashed his badge) and wanted to verify/confirm my energy bill (I am with DE) for some meter reading installation.

    He asked for my gas bill and electricity bill. He looked at something on my bills and returned them right back and asked to confirm my telephone number on a list of names and numbers he carried.

    Later on at night, I was telling my sister about the strange visit. She told me that there is a scam of energy door to door sales agents… if I show them my bills, that means that I agree to SWITCH over to another company.

    Now, I super worry that if that is the case than I might be in trouble for $$$ charges etc.. Please advise… I don’t know what to do…

    My sister’s suggestion is call DE on Monday first thing, since they don’t even have 24 hours Customer Services…

    Please help, advice really appreciated.

  72. Jennifer

    Feb 8 2009

    After reading all the comments on this site, I feel lucky that I don’t have any water heater or furnace rentals with these people.

    MY problem is that my Direct Energy contract was up for renewal and no one bothered to contact me. You know the drill, they sign you up for 1 year at 49.9 cents a cubic metre. I’m in the process of cancelling the contract. My complaints have been made and noted.

    I figure that some lovely employee at DE filed them unger G. Any tips on how to get someone to call you back? Does anyone ever get reimbursed? And why the hell does a company work so hard pounding the pavement and making endless phone calls to get new customers, but can’t be bothered to call a long time customer about a contract renewal?

    Ha Ha, I can’t wait to be done with these scammers. Can you believe after all my calls and complaints, each call centre employee asks me if I would be interested in signing up for my electricity needs.

  73. Lou

    Feb 11 2009

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone knows of a lawyer who has experience dealing with Direct Energy. I have lost around 15 hours so far in emails and phone conversations.

    I am one of those auto-renewal folks post 2005 and would like to take the good folks at Direct Energy to court or at least make them sweat a bit:-)

  74. RS

    Feb 17 2009

    I was in the shower when a Direct Energy representative came to the door. My girlfriend answered.

    She was offered a survey and she went along in the spirit of gathering information to make a choice later with me. Many times she stated that “we do not want to commit to DE at this time,” both on her own and later when I would join her at the door.

    As part of the survey, the representative asked to see a copy of our Toronto Hydro bill so she could show the difference in rates. She stated that Toronto Hydro would be soon raising their rates substantially.

    It was at this point when I joined my girlfriend at the door. I immediately became suspicious when I saw a copy of our hydro bill in the representative’s hands. She was holding a cellphone to my girlfriend’s ear.

    I would later find out the representative asked my girlfriend to confirm over the phone that she had participated in the “survey” and was satisfied.

    Before my girlfriend could sign the “survey” I interjected to see what paperwork the representative was showing my girlfriend and grabbed it immediately when I saw what it was. Sure enough, it was actually a 5-year contract with our Toronto Hydro account number on it.

    I took back my hydro bill, which the representative said was necessary to complete the survey. I asked her to give me her contact information, since I could email a scanned copy if we were interested in pursuing this further.

    She offered her Hotmail address. She was wearing a badge, though, which I can see in the picture of her I took, saying she was a Direct Energy employee.

    At this point, we had enough. We kept the Direct Energy contract and told the representative to leave. She insisted on having the Direct Energy contract, but I told her not a chance in… well, you know.

    Five minutes later, the representative’s “supervisor” came to my door (with the representative alongside her), asking for the contract back. She said they needed to account for it, plus it was not signed. She also explained that an account cannot be created without a follow-up phone call. (What about that cellphone conversation my girlfriend had with the representative’s co-worker on the other line before I joined the conversation?!)

    I told her to promptly leave as well.

    I’ve looked at the brochure and there is no way I would ever sign up for this. And after my experience with a Direct Energy employee or a third party on behalf of Direct Energy, I am even more skeptical.

    I hope my story, however, prevents someone else from being duped.

    I realize that my statement above of how it happened could be interpreted as my word against theirs. But if you really think I do this kind of thing for fun, on a Valentine’s Day Saturday no less, then you are completely mistaken.

  75. Cathy Nicholson

    Feb 18 2009

    I have also had a bad experience. I recently had a contract renewed without my permission or knowledge.

    I received a cheque, which if I cashed would be acknowledgment of a 5 year renewal. I called them to say I would not be renewing and tore the cheque up and threw it away.

    Unbeknownst to me, they still renewed the contract for one year automatically. I was unaware of this. It was brought to my attention because I am on equal billing and they raised my equal billing amount, which sent a red flag to me.

    I called Enbridge only to be told I was still with Direct Energy, at 43 cents a cubic metre when the current rate is 29 cents a cubic metre.

    Firstly, they have no right to renew anything without my being aware and consenting to it. Secondly, what gives them the right to pick a number they’re going to charge you? This is totally absurd…..

    Don’t try contacting them. You go to a call centre in India and you never get passed to the operator…

    The OEB doesn’t seem to be much help. It would appear to me the best way for us to combat the problem would be a class action suit against them.

    I’m not sure why our government would subject us as consumers to these scams. They need to look into this matter immediately since it appears from the numerous complaints there is a big problem here.

    Let’s group together and fight them on this. You can email me at cathynicholson@rogers.com.

  76. Liour

    Feb 22 2009

    Just like many people in this forum, I had agreed to a 1 year contract with DE that was automatically renewed at a price of 44.9 cents per cubic metre.

    I see a long legal battle ahead, but what can I do when I have to buy gas at this price during the winter season?

    I’ve found the best solution! The price of gas heating at 44.9 cents is more expensive than the price of heating your house by electricity. Turn on your electrical heaters and watch how low your gas bill will become (but electricity bill will be higher). The most enjoyable thing in this solution is watching DE’s profit go down.

  77. Amy P

    Mar 1 2009

    I have been reading about everyone’s trials and tribulations with Direct Energy and it is making my blood boil, as Iam going through the same troubles.

    I am disgusted with Direct Energy’s enrollment practices as well as their account and contractual management procedures. I am hoping that you can provide me with some advice to resolve this unpleasant situation.

    1. We moved into our house on April 29th/04.

    2. In November/05, a customer service rep from Direct Energy came to our door and explained a service, which I signed a contract for.

    * Due to the large time lapse, I do not recall if I verbally consented to this program, however I am not prepared, nor do I feel that I am in a position to state that I did not consent.

    3. At the end of February/2007, we received a bill from Whitby Hydro that was for a total of $219.98 (which is approx. $80 more than usual). I contacted our Hydro provider on March 9th/2007, and spoke to an employee who said that I was enrolled by Direct Energy into a program, which has altered our bill format. She told me to contact Direct Energy

    4. I called Direct Energy and a customer representative informed me that there had not been any changes to our bill since 2005. She told me to call Whitby Hydro because the problem must be on their end.

    5. I called them back and spoke to a representative who said that Direct Energy enrolled us on Nov. 29/06 into this program and that we were being billed now, as billing intervals are on a bi-monthly basis. She told me to follow through with Direct Energy.

    *We have been paying the same bill for nearly 3 years, and they are usually between $130-$150.

    6. I spoke to a customer service representative on March 9/2007, who told me that our account was processed and rejected for some reason in 2005 and that they just reprocessed the information and that was why we were now receiving a bill. I stated my disapproval and asked him to launch an investigation. He told me that it would take 2-3 weeks to have this bill investigated. I was not happy with the answers, so I proceeded to contact another customer service representative.

    7. This representative informed me that she had not ever seen anything like this and that it usually takes 4 months for contracts to kick in, not over a year. She also said that the contract was rejected and now reprocessed. She did not know why it was rejected, nor did she know any details about contractual agreements in respect to the number of times a contract can be reprocessed or the duration of time that can elapse between the reprocessing.

    8. I paid the bill in full, as I knew that it was going to be a lengthy process to investigate and I did not want to accumulate interest fees and damage my bill payment credibility with Whitby Hydro.

    9. On March 14/07, I got a call from Direct Energy saying that on Nov. 25/2005, I verbally authorized our enrollment in a program. I did not dispute this as it most likely did happen over a year and 7 months ago. I asked why our account was rejected in 2005 and he did not know. He also had no explanation as to why our account was reprocessed over a year later (he said he would contact us).

    10. I was told to contact Justin Raymond. I have not received a response. It is now 2009. I am tired and worn out!

    As you can see, I feel that I am not being ignorant to the facts, nor am I contesting that I may have signed and verbally authorized a contract with Direct Energy.

    I am, however, very concerned with the management of this account. I am discomforted that a company can come to your door and offer you a service and reject you from a service that they are wanting to provide you with and do so without any notification to the customer.

    Subsequently, they are entitled to reprocess it nearly a year later without any consultation, and in retrospect, at a time when it blatantly benefits the company.

    Direct Energy is taking a position whereby they are using the legalities of the contract to hold the customer liable and responsible, although they have not honored the contract, have miscommunicated and have, in my opinion, abused a reasonable amount of time to process a contract.

    As far as I am aware, in any contractual situation, once a contract is rejected, a re-application and authorization process should be implemented, and this DID NOT happen in our case.

    I hope that I have provided you with an informative account of the events. Ultimately, my husband and myself would like to be released from this contract as we are very displeased with the management of this matter.

  78. Dennis J. Tatomir III

    Mar 2 2009

    I am harassed by Direct Energy. They are the most useless company around. Talk about scammers.

    They prey on people & will not give up. I don’t want to hear of them knocking on my door again or calling me, or i will put them out of business.

    I had to put in a complaint & get Ontario Energy Board involved with their unprofessional behaviour. It is such a shame that companies like this exist.

    I tried to talk to Amanda Smith (specialist, office of the president) & she will not answer her phone or the head CEO.

    My lawyer has been contacted & notified if they try any more harassment.

  79. Amy P

    Mar 4 2009

    Four days ago, I submitted my problems with DE to the blog. After years of trying to get answers and getting the runaround, Ellen helped me to get things smoothed over.

    DE contacted me today and cancelled our contract with them. They did mention that it typically takes 90-120 days for a contract to kick in and also that a contract can be reprocessed over and over until it goes through (this is fair practice).

    In our case, the 36 months was a little strange, so they said that “in good faith” they would cancel. Although I still feel that we were duped big time and lost A LOT of money, I am so grateful that it is all over! Thank-you, Ellen!

  80. Justin

    Mar 11 2009

    I’m in a similar situation, where I owe close to $1,500 to Ontario Energy Savings for early cancellation. They said they had mailed me the information to cancel it, but I never received anything and because I didn’t cancel, I now owe them the fees.

    They offered me a settlement of $1,000, which is still a lot of money. They emailed me the contract that I had signed, but I noticed that there was no space for the length of the contract. It looked as if it was just written in later. Most of these things are for four or five years, so that could mean a difference in hundreds of dollars if I’m to pay it.

    I’m not exactly sure what I can do. They want a response soon and I don’t want to hurt my credit rating. Any ideas?

  81. Gordon

    Mar 12 2009

    I did not renew my five year contract for gas with Direct Energy after receiving a residential renewal agreement. The contract terminated 31 Dec 2008 but when checking my local utility Union Gas I realised I was still listed as having Direct Energy as my gas supplier. So I called Direct energy and they explained that I did not cancel my agreement and so I would have to pay a cancelation fee of $183. I checked my files and I found that in fact there were two identical renewal agreement forms but noticed one was blank on the reverse side and the other had a cancelation section on the reverse side. The intention of desception is obvious and unfortunately I got caught. Even so, I find the idea of having to send a renewal cancelation form offensive and put the cart before the hose in a moral sense. But I guess Direct Energy does direct any of its energy into good business ethics. Is there anything I can do to Cancel this renewed agreement without penalty?

  82. Gordon

    Mar 12 2009

    I did not renew my five year contract for gas with Direct Energy after receiving a residential renewal agreement.

    The contract terminated 31 Dec 2008, but when checking with my local utility Union Gas, I realised I was still listed as having Direct Energy as my gas supplier.

    So I called Direct Energy and they explained that I did not cancel my agreement and I would have to pay a cancellation fee of $183.

    I checked my files and I found that, in fact, there were two identical renewal agreement forms. I noticed one was blank on the reverse side and the other had a cancellation section on the reverse side.

    The intention of deception is obvious and unfortunately I got caught. Even so, I find the idea of having to send a renewal cancellation form offensive and puts the cart before the horse in a moral sense.

    But I guess Direct Energy doesn’t direct any of its energy into good business ethics.

    Is there anything I can do to cancel this renewed agreement without penalty?

  83. Susan

    Mar 14 2009

    I have received a renewal notice from Direct Energy and I am trying to look at my options. I have been with them for four or five years now but don’t know if I have saved money.
    I see on the internet that there is a website called riterate.ca and I wondered if anyone has tried them or if I am better off just dealing with Enbridge directly.

    Any experience/input would be appreciated.

    Thank you!

  84. Rob

    Mar 18 2009

    The Ontario government poorly designed the laws surrounding what these energy retailers can and can’t do. The laws favor the company, not the consumer, and it is “assumed” that a consumer knows all the provisions of the contract before they engage a retailer.

    I have spoken to several people at the OEB and get a different answer each time. Basically, here is the link to the rules for their renewal: http://www.energychoiceontario.ca/en/tipsheet3.htm

    The catch is that there is NO auditing going on. So, a retailer can claim they sent a renewal package, but haven’t. This gives them the avenue to automatically renew you IF you purchased over the phone or internet. If you signed at the door, they can’t renew you automatically. Again, it gets really bizarre once you dig deeper. Some elements may be against the law, others may not. The rules are really unfavorable to the general public.

    Your choices are:

    Write a letter to your MPP complaining how the laws surrounding gas/electricity retailsrs do not protect the average consumer.

    Complain to the OEB here:
    http://www.oeb.gov.on.ca/OEB/For+Consumers/Have+a+Question+or+Complaint/Steps+for+Making+a+Complaint

  85. Alister

    Mar 18 2009

    Very put out by door-to-door sales people from Direct Energy! High pressure, try to trick you by agreeing you’re not stupid like others who have declined.

    As soon as I said I will look at the sign-up on the internet, they said the forms are complicated. If I make a mistake they cancel… we’re only around here today… all the hallmarks of a scam. Wow, I am glad (lucky too I suppose) that I did not sign, seeing the reports here. A worthy company would not resort to such tricks.

    Oh yeah, they used to phone about once a week, but I got them to take me off the list – took name of supervisor… So far so good. At least that part worked.

  86. Yasmine

    Mar 20 2009

    I have been a long time customer of Direct Energy’s and personally have never had any issues with the company. Their technicians have always been timely, polite, knowledgeable, and prepared to make the necessary repairs within my home. I personally have always recommended them, given the opportunity to do so.

    Recently, it was brought to my attention by a neighbour that Direct Energy employees have some shady business practices. Not believing them, I sought out on my own little investigation.

    First and foremost, I came across a job posting on the Direct Energy website which clearly outlined that the HVAC Service managers are responsible for, and I quote, “Ensure his/her team generates appropriate levels of sales leads and contract sales to contribute to the growth and profitability of Direct Energy Essential Home Services”.

    This I found to be alarming, considering that I know someone from work who was advised that her heat exchanger was cracked and that she needed to purchase a new furnace, and when she hired another company to complete the install, it was determined that there was no crack in the heat exchanger… in fact there was nothing wrong with the unit other then a blower motor needed to be replaced.

    Perhaps this was just an indication of a technician “contributing to the growth and profitability by generating a sales lead?”

    Secondly, Direct Energy is not an “Authorized Carrier Dealer,” meaning that when the heat exchanger needs to be replaced, like all of those associated with the recall in recent years… although the part cost was covered by the manufacturer, the customers were having to spend upwards of $700 in labour costs.

    I have spoken to Carrier and they advised that if the repair has been completed by an “Authorized Carrier Dealer” that $400 of labour would be covered by the manufacturer in regards to the recall – meaning that those customers who were knowledgeable about this information would only have spent $300 rather then upwards of $700.

    I am assuming that the employees of Direct Energy are aware of this, but because they are all responsible for generating profitability, they fail to inform the customers who are none the wiser.

    I have to say that after realizing all this information, I will have to second guess the renewal of my protection plans (which I have always found to be beneficial) and perhaps take my business to a cheaper, less renowned company in the future.

  87. Yasmine

    Mar 20 2009

    CBC Marketplace aired an episode tonight @ 8:30pm on Door to Door marketers regarding electricity and gas contracts. Might want to check it out online.

  88. W.Robson

    Mar 21 2009

    After a narrow escape (majorly assisted by Ellen) from a switch between one rip-off (Universal) and Direct during a door to door face-off, Ellen was able to assist, and Direct did cancel a new “contract switch” between them due to misrepresentations between 2 young men.

    In 2 years, and after installation of a $5,000 furnace, I have never received one explanation of cost changes, e.g. delivery that made, for instance, my gas bill HIGHER this year than last year, despite less use, from Universal.

    I would sincerely like to cancel this in order to find out about my furnace’s REAL efficiency due to insulation problems.

    NOW to Direct. Due to the efficiency of the cancellation letter, when I had an emergency dual appliance repair, I decided to give Direct a call. They appeared as promised, informed me the parts would come in in 1-2 weeks.

    The serviceman appeared, as I rushed home from work, with a) NO knob for the dryer, as promised (I had to use a wrench) and b) the wrong circuit board for the dishwasher.

    I had, by the way, given a cheque for the service call which was cashed IMMEDIATELY. The serviceman finally appeared with the parts (made him come during inclement weather, as Direct had neglected to mention he only came in from Kingston, 50 km, 2 days a week.

    As I had had some conversations with offices, I informed him I would NOT be paying for this. This was later construed to be that I had MISrepresented the company as having authorized this.

    As I heard no more, I assumed that the company had done the right thing (I had already told their Executive Offices that this did NOT constitute honouring their contract over 6 weeks. There was even a phone call to my work, which I assumed was about this.

    The next thing I got last month (remember, original date October) was a note informing me this was going to Collections, along with the above inference about payment. (The technician had already agreed that he understood why.) I had stated that I would consider partial payment; this was not noted.

    On March 3, I received a phone call back (again, interference from Ellen, but I had received no response as per “Service standards): I was informed that “he was authorized to grant $80 (out of $160).

    After discussion concerning credit or re-billing, I requested a re-bill, with a new statement to be sent. That was on March 3; today it’s March 21 and I have no statement. I am now expecting to receive another “deadline statement.”

    Botton line: Do NOT deal with any form of this company until you have read line by line.

    Will let you know if I ever receive a bill. Meanwhile, have no desire to honour this, as I still do not believe 7 weeks is an honourable repair time.

  89. Jagg Persaud

    Mar 24 2009

    I am having a major runaround with DirectEnergy.
    Can confirm many of the stories on this site.

    Briefly my contract was renewed without my approval.
    They claimed they sent a copy of the package. Insisting that they have Canada Post records.

    Call centre people refuse to escalate and I just end up with the same call centre people again and again.

    Got the Mark Rodrigue bill with no way of contacting Mr. Rodrigue.

    They insist I must pay that bill before they cancel and the last case they opened gives themselves past the date that I must pay bill for closure.

    They have opened a3 cases after I insisted on escalation. Each case you get a call saying they have a case and it would take 10 – 15, or 30 business days to get back to you. In each case I had to call them back. Some of their people are downright rude; The first case person who claimed that she was a senior customer care representative – was actually yelling at me when I asked for escalation.

    I would like to get some email or mailing addresses for people like Mark Rodrigue and COO and/or CEO.

    The few bucks they are screwing me for can cost them much more in the long run as I intend to step up bad publicity campaign.

    I am telling people about this and a few people who were considering doing business with them – have decided otherwise.

    These kinds of business practices are unethical.

    The OEB is useless – speaking with them one gets the impression that they are in cahoots with the marketers and see no need to protect the consumer.

    Please note that Direct Energy is related to Enbridge.
    “Direct Energy is a marketing division of Enbridge. When deregulation occurred Direct Energy appeared to be taking a lot of Enbridge customers and locking them into fixed contract pricing. Several years later, Enbridge purchased Direct Energy, and soon after moved their HW tank rental to Direct Energy.”

    So I doubt that I can expect any real support from Enbridge.

  90. Nicole Stanley

    Mar 25 2009

    Does anyone know what would happen if I have a Summitt contract (that I was duped into, by every account) but I was moving to a place where I didn’t require a hydro account (i.e. hydro was included in the rent)? Does this count as a ‘breach of contract’ to them? Would I have to pay a fine?
    Thanks for any info/insight

    Signed,
    Taken

  91. Dave

    Mar 25 2009

    Does anyone know if Direct Energy will still be on my gas bills if I stopped my gas service? We are moving in a bit and deciding to stop our gas service. Though I have canceled services with Direct Energy, I still have to wait for the 1 year anniversary before it stops completely. Would I have to pay for any fees/fines?

  92. Ildiko

    Apr 3 2009

    Hello Ellen,

    I’m not having so much luck with Direct Energy either.

    Three and a half years ago, I purchased a condo with one of those combination water tank units in it. To make it complicated, only the bottom part of it belongs to Direct Energy. The A/C and the furnace is my responsibility.

    The water tank is connected to the furnace and to the A/C. To get anything going, the water tank has to work flawlessly. That is not the case in my home. Direct Energy is visiting my home almost in every three months, mostly due to some sort of leaking issues.

    Interestingly, every time they look at it, first they say: It is not their cost to fix it, because it is not the actual water tank leaking; it’s usually the connection to it or from it.

    When this unit was installed, Direct Energy did the work; they connected all the pipes and tubes, unfortunately in a very poor way. Now we have severe damage to the floor and to the subfloor, due to a possible slow leak from one of their pipes or to a corroded condensation catcher (a tray underneath the water tank). Now I need to get the water tank moved so the contractor can fix the damage.

    The story actually started back in August when Direct Energy determined that the tray underneath the water tank needed to be replaced. By that time, my condo corporation had already told me that I had water coming from my place into the garage. We all agreed that we need to coordinate this with Direct Energy and with the contractor who would come out and fix the damage. However nobody seemed to be bothered with the issue after that.

    Direct Energy ordered the part and because I couldn’t get my condo people to get back to me, they just closed down the file. Now when we are actually there at that point where the floor is open, they don’t think any more that anything needs to be fixed on their part.

    I’ve been trying to get someone to come out and look at the damage, but nobody was getting back to me, unless I was calling them. After talking to about 7 different customer service people (4 Customer service agent and 3 supervisors), and explaining my problem all 7 times, finally I got a service technician calling me and telling me Direct Energy will remove the tank for $1,200.

    He wasn’t even considering Direct Energy to be responsible for this damage to the floor and sub-floor. They were going to remove the tank and when the floor is done, put it back the same way as it was. I was telling them, there’s no point doing that unless they will fix it, because we will have to go through this again next year if they are not looking after the problem.

    What I really don’t understand, why do I have to pay $1,200 to Direct Energy to remove their leaky tank that has damaged my floor and now we are not even able to live there during the renovation? We are currently staying in a short term rental unit and my insurance is only covering me for a month to stay at this place.

    As of today, we still have the tank sitting on the floor and the contractors are waiting on Direct Energy to make a move.

    Is there any way that I can force Direct Energy to remove the tank at their cost without taking them to court?

    Thank you,
    Ildiko R.

  93. LarryW

    Apr 9 2009

    Ellen, after reading all these blog entries, I am confused but somewhat enlightened.

    I have just received my Direct Energy renewal form(s), yes there are 2, one with a cancellation portion and the other without.

    I am confused because I thought I was month to month with Enbridge directly. Silly me, turns out although Enbridge sent me the bill, it was still DE in the background making all the money.

    I was on a contract with DE for 5 years at 23.7 cents per metre. This contract ran out last year and was not renewed.

    According to the Enbridge site, gas has dropped to 23.5 per metre on April 1st.

    I plan on sending in my cancellation to DE. Will this automatically put me on the Enbridge plan or are there other hoops I need to jump through?

  94. FranB

    Apr 13 2009

    We live in mid-town Toronto. We’ve just had a bubbly, young Direct Energy marketer at our door.

    Here’s their latest story line to try to switch you without your knowledge: smart meters. Were we aware of the cost savings to us when we are switched to smart meters? Could she just see our bill to make sure we were enrolled?

    When I refused, she started to weave a story about how they were authorized as a \government agency\ to review this. I laughed. Basically, I told her I knew she was a scam artist and to go away. I then phoned all my neighbours to fill them in. Beware the latest scam line.

  95. Chester

    Apr 21 2009

    I live in Edmonton and already have my Gas sold through DE. A salesman showed up at my door to see if we would like our Electricity moved from Epcor to DE as well.

    He didn’t try and sell me a term contract, wasn’t pushy and was quite helpful. He said the billing would remain the same, aside from less of an admin fee due to the consolidated billing.

    It all seemed legit, he did ask to see my Gas and Electricity bills, just to get the appropriate account info to move us over. Have I been scammed here?

    It doesn’t seem like our rates will go up, and I’m not locked into any term or anything…I just want to make sure I didn’t make a huge mistake, as I still have the 10 day ‘cooling-off’ period to change my mind. Any info would be great.

  96. Rick Renaud

    May 4 2009

    Recently I had noticed that My rental gas hot water tank had been causing issues (running out of hot water, Igniter not working causing the unit to lock out) I called Direct Energy to have a technician come and take a look at it. Now I have to tell you the Tank is 10 yrs old and I also noticed some dampness on the floor where the tank sat. Not wanting to come home one night to notice an indoor swimming pool in basement I was going to ask to have the Unit replaced, after all it was ten yrs old. The technician arrived and I explained that I wanted a new tank as this one was getting old. He said he had not problem doing that but said that the Vent pipe was “visibly cracked” and also needed to be replaced. I said fine as this was a rental unit I was under the impression this was not my problem. I also subscribed to their Total Home Protection Plan, which they claim covers plumbing and Electrical. The technician then told me I had to pay for the vent pipe and any other supplies needed to replace the tank, when I asked if the Plan covers this he said no. I said OK then show me the Visible Crack in the Vent; He said he was not able to do that. I asked why and he could not give me a straight answer. He then informed me that he would have to shut the tank off until it was repaired as this was a Safety hazard. He said he could not replace the tank until the following day. Now I have 2 small children and this was not very acceptable to me but he said there was nothing he could do. I called and spoke to many people and not one was able to give me a straight answer. So now I have to pay 280.00 out of my pocket for a rental hot water heater install. Talk about a shady company. I plan to take this to my member of parliament for further review.

  97. Tom Prebul

    May 11 2009

    I have been battling with Direct Energy since July 2008. I was on a home protection plan for my furnace, which I signed up for at least 5 years ago when there was a minor repair required. Their servicemen came out every 6 months and ran their tests, and I paid every month. In May 2008, they came out when I was not at home, and when I returned, I discovered that the serviceman discovered a cracked heat exchanger, which was not covered by the service plan, parts were no longer available, so my only option was to replace the furnace. Some service plan.

    I had the time to shop, thank God, and finally replaced my furnace before my gas was turned off (the DE serviceman turned off and red tagged my furnace). So far, so good, right? Not so fast. I called DE to terminate the service plan because there was nothing to service, and my new furnace was under warranty and did not require an expensive service contract. I was told I could not terminate the contract before December since I was on an annual plan. I said I do not recall signing any such contract, and demanded a copy of it, which was never acknowledged. I followed up with a letter, which was ignored. In the meantime, Enbridge is doing DE’s dirty work adding their charges to my monthly bill, and calling me and patiently listening to why I do not owe this money, but then saying they have nothing to do with it and I need to work it out with DE.

    Amazingly, I get a form letter from DE in December thanking me for renewing my service agreement (even though I had sent them written instructions 5 months earlier to cancel it). I had to read the whole letter until I finally found the cancellation email address at the end of the small print on the ridiculous terms and conditions.

    These people at Direct Energy renewed the contract for 2009, and then wanted to be congratulated for removing the annual charge without being told to do so. This company should be avoided at all costs. They are a big company, but their business practices are unethical and abusive. There is business is taking your money, nothing else. As I write this, I am still working to have the now $275.00 in charges from 2008 removed from my Enbridge bill that Direct Energy had Enbridge put on the bill after they turned off my old furnace (for a service plan).

  98. PC

    May 12 2009

    I just want to thank you again for your assistance regarding DE and the collection agency, in addition to that great story printed in the paper a couple of months back.

    Well…they’re at it again.

    I am getting calls from the collection agency and have been for a couple of weeks. I only figured it out today after a series of calls from an 866 number but without any voice message.

    They say DE never closed down the so-called file they had on me. The response from another DE call centre was to, AGAIN, affirm the so-called cancellation fee of $71 was waived.

    Moreover, I have in my hands Direct Energy’s own letter from the office of the President, claiming the fee was waived and ‘all collections activities have been suspended’ (their quote).

    What do I do now?

    The collection agency said I should fax the letter from DE proving my waiver of fees!! (Here we go again!)

    It is unbelievable how utterly incompetent they are at following up with their promises!

    Can you assist me again? I really am at a loss as to what further action I can do to rid myself once and for all from harrassment. Thanks so much, Ellen!!

  99. Giovanni

    May 21 2009

    My wife and I were first time homeowners in 2005. We were solicited by someone coming to our door representing Direct Energy. The sales associate did a great job of putting some fear in us about rising prices, so we agreed to sign.

    Since signing, prices in our area have gone down consistently.

    A little over a year ago, we called customer service expressing our concern about what we were paying vs the going rate, and to be honest the person we were speaking with was very understanding and stated that they could lower our rate (not to the going rate, but I did not mind paying a little extra).

    I understand that I would not have called if the locked in rate was less than the going rate! And I also understand that there is no guarantee, they make you aware that prices may go up, you should know that prices may go down.

    However, prices have continued to drop and looking at our last bill we are paying double what the going rate is currently.

    Pleased with the customer service in the past, I again called and was put through to a supervisor. I explained the situation, that I did not mind paying a little more but double is a little ridiculous (this person agreed and seemed sympathetic).

    When they looked into our account and saw that we had already had a price adjustment, he became very reluctant to do anything. I was very reluctant to continue paying double.

    Knowing that we had locked in for 5 years, we had only a year left in our contract. I expressed an interest in cancelling my contract and was told that there would be a penalty, AS WE STILL HAD 4 YEARS REMAINING IN OUR CONTRACT!

    Needless to say, I was suprised, since 2005-2009 would leave a year remaining. I was then told that when we received our adjustment a year ago, we were automatically renewed for 5 years from the date of the adjustment.

    I said I had not been made aware of this nor had I agreed. I was told it is policy and Customer Service Representatives make customers aware of this fact. All calls are recorded for customer satisfaction.

    I replied that I would like to listen to the recording and I would like to know what the cost would be to cancel now with 4 years remaining (still willing to pay a reasonable penalty).

    I also asked that, if the recording did not show that we were made aware of the renewal during the call, the agreement be resolved and I would pay the penalty for the remaining time on the original contract of 1 year.

    The supervisor agreed. He told me that he would have the recording sent to me and that the penalty for 4 years would be approx. $635. I was supplied with a name and confirmation number.

    I received a letter stating that to cancel the remaining 3.8 years would cost me $804.90 ($170 more than the approximation I was given) and no recording!

    I have called the Direct Energy head office and have yet to hear back from them.

    Again, I understand I signed a contract and I am willing to pay the penalty on the remaining 1 year term of the original contract. However, there has been no evidence that I was informed or agreed to a new term of 5 years upon our adjustment.

  100. MM

    May 26 2009

    To Jason and the other advocates for DE:

    There are always two sides to a story and it is always based on our “own” perception. What seems to be loud and clear is that DE, as well as other large companies, are taking consumers for a ride and profiting.

    I have worked in marketing and know how management twists the truth to encourage people to believe what the company wants the consumer to believe.

    The big problem with DE and other energy suppliers is that they are able to falsify facts that the average consumer might not know (unless they do their research) and the sales agents “scare” people into signing contracts. DE and other energy suppliers use deceptive solicitation.

    One way to stop this is to stop door-to-door sales and have consumers research on their own who best to service their energy needs. If consumers had to do their own research instead of reacting to fear, the majority of the complaints would probably subside.

    DE is no different then other large company like Bell or Rogers. Once they have you, there is so much red tape to go through in order to get anything done, it becomes very frustrating and most people just pay to avoid the frustration.

    Also, incompetence lies in all types of business, and not all employees perform to the company’s standards. However, there are far too many complaints to blame it only on the sales agents.

    It is obvious that DE either intentionally trains their sales agents to be deceitful, or doesn’t bother to invest in any training or professional sales agents.

    What DE does is no different then what Enron or the banks in the US have done. Management makes their profits on the ignorance of the consumer.

    One thing I have learned from my dealings with DE is never to sign anything unless I have done my own research. Never sign anything at the door.

    If what the salesperson is selling you truthful and real, then your signature/business can wait until you know for certain that it is what you want to do.

    Also, the reaffirmation call that DE does only confirms rate and asks if you want to go ahead. There are no questions as to sales agent conduct, did you read our terms and conditions, etc. All DE is looking for is a yes.

    If DE was concerned about sales agent conduct or customer satisfaction, that reaffirmation call would be much longer than 5 seconds and there would be questions regarding what the customer understands.

    The only way DE or any other large company will make any significant changes in behaviour is by contacting government (your local MP, MPP) or even the Better Business Bureau.

    We consumers have to make these companies accountable for what they are selling us. We have to be knowledgeable and not rely on their word.

    Good luck.

  101. sick of scams

    May 27 2009

    I switched to oil, simply to avoid this stuff.

    The problem with oil is that when they actually deliver the oil, it is not possible to verify how much they give you. They put some oil in a partly empty 200 gallon tank and never fill it to the top, so you cannot tell how accurate their fill is.

    To solve this, I installed a second tank, run it till it is empty, switch over tanks and then shop prices, buying 200 gallons exactly at a time. A full 200 gallon tank…is actually full, hard to scam.

    Much better system, plus buy 400 gallons during the summer, when oil prices are always low.

    I will be installing a 3rd tank this year, so I can buy enough oil to last me the winter, in non-prime times. BIG savings from this approach.

  102. Another scam

    May 28 2009

    My wife and I moved into a rented house. After many months of paying bills and not understanding them, I went to a great deal of effort to find out what exactly the “provincial benefit cost” was.

    After many useless conversations with Direct Energy employees (who had zero knowledge of what this charge was), I finally found out for myself.

    What I seem to understand is that Direct Energy does give you a fixed price, yet fails to take the “provincial benefit cost” into account, which I believe fluctuates year round.

    Prices that are decided upon by the OPG reflect this cost, meaning the rate that Direct Energy wants you to think is going to skyrocket (so you better sign a fixed-price contract) includes this.

    This means that if Direct Energy is charging 3.2 cents per kwh, the “provincial benefit cost” is then ADDED to this contracted static amount.

    The “provincial benefit cost” is continually fluctuating, so therefore you COULD end up paying the exact same as the unregulated amount, if not more, at the times when the non-DE price is actually lower. Does this seem like a scam?

    But I digress. What I really want to address is this: My landlord is now in litigation with Direct Energy after Direct Energy claimed that they (the landlord) had agreed to a contract, which they had not.

    When confronted with the information, Direct Energy –immediately on the defensive — proclaimed they had a “recorded contract” by telephone, which we then had to request a copy of.

    Upon listening to the recording, I found that the operator
    had let the previous tenant’s sister (no, NOT the actual tenant)agree to the contract, asking her repeatedly “if the landlord agreed, are you sure the landlord agrees” to the contract.

    Being that the landlord’s name was who the contract was issued under, I am not sure as to how ANYONE OTHER THAN the name on the contract is legally able to agree and therefore enter into any contract.

    I have a CD RECORDING of this illegal transaction, yet Direct Energy refuses to renege, charging my landlord the obligatory $300+ for cancellation of a contract that they never agreed to enter into.

    Now, my poor landlord has to suffer legal fees to simply cancel a contract he had no knowledge of.

    It’s nice to see that even with imperial evidence, Direct Energy will not admit their shady dealings.

    Just as a little note of humor for the end of this.. what kind of moronic company sends out a recording proving their fraudulent actions without listening to it first?

  103. Laila F

    Jun 1 2009

    Hi, I have had nothing but aggravation with Direct Energy.

    I called them last week as my water was cloudy. The woman said that since my water heater was 13 years old, it should be replaced and that would resolve the problem. I said ok, and they came last Tuesday to replace the heater.

    While the serviceman was there, he advised us to have our furnace venting looked at. The next day, I called DE about this problem. They were quick to respond – a serviceman could come by that same night. I should have know by the rapid appointment time that something was wrong!

    At the same time, I also called for service – again – on the water heater, because we still had cloudy water. DE said they would send someone in that night. Stranger and stranger.

    So now we are up to two service calls for the same evening. The rep who came to look at the venting said that our furnce was no longer safe, since the building codes had changed in 2006, and after he popped a hole in the venting, he proceeded to tag our furnace.

    I asked why, if I have an annual furnace inspection, this was not a problem previously. I also said that since he had popped a hole in the venting during his inspection, he should fix it.

    I was told that when the water heater is replaced, DE automatically requires the furnace veniting to be upgraded. And, of course, venting is not covered under the total home protection plan. So even though he made the hole, I am now responsible for the repairs.

    The rep for the water heater came, didn’t even look at the water and said the problem was we have chlorine and air in the lines. He was incredibly rude and stomped out of the house.

    On Sunday, I called, yet again, for another service call for the water heater, as no one from DE had called me back and or fixed the problem. We finally had someone today with a rare combination of brains and honesty. He said the problem was with the city.

    So now I find out that I replaced a perfectly good water heater and have to pay megabucks for the privilege of fixing venting that otherwise would have been left alone, and on top of that, it isn’t even something DE could resolve!!!!

    P.S: I called the city. They called back in less than an hour. They said that they were working on the water in our area and would flush the lines. That would get rid of the cloudiness.

    Meanwhile – I still can’t use my furnace!

  104. Giovanni

    Jun 10 2009

    I wrote in on May 21st 2009 very frustrated after dealing with DE. Refer above for details. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ellen for everything she has done for us and others who have commented on here. We have recently been told that we are being released of our contract and all early cancellation fee’s are being waived because DE did not provide us with the recording we had requested. They said my wifey agreed to an additional five years when DE offered us a price adjustment after we called in concerned about the high prices we were paying vs the going rate.

    I have also recently received an email from DE in which they say they have located the recording and will be sending it to us. “I will believe that when I see it!” The email also stated that they would honor the cancellation and still waive the penalty because of the delay in getting us the recording!

    So again Ellen Thank You very much, it is nice to have someone willing to stand up for the consumer against these corporations that intimidate people into signing long term contracts that they have no intention of letting you out of.

    I wish there were more like you!

    Best wishes

  105. Barukh

    Jun 14 2009

    While I haven’t had the horrendous experiences of many of your correspondents, I did have a recent ‘brick wall’ exchange with Direct Energy.

    Our 5 year gas supply contract with them is coming to an end soon. They sent me renewal documents with their new 5 year rates, which are 12 cents a cubic meter higher than our present $0.258 cost.

    Having been alerted by Roseman’s columns on this matter, I asked about the current market price and was told by the DE representative that she did not know and could not get that for me.

    I had to work my way through Enbridge’s telephone tree in order to speak to a real person and get the answer.

    Until the end of June, the market price is $0.235, which after rebates drops to $0.174 cents. And from July 1 to Sept. 30, the price after rebates is even lower – $0.147.

    This works out to over 20 cents less than the Direct Energy’s contract price!

  106. terry lett

    Jun 21 2009

    So, How does one end DE’s services without ending up in small claims court?

    Inquiring minds want to know …

  107. Yasmine

    Jun 23 2009

    Dear Terry Lett:

    Q: How does one end DE’s services without ending up in small claims court?

    A: Depends on what services you are inquiring about…

    1) Rental Water Heater agreement: If a customer wants DE to pick-up/remove their rental tank, a $75 charge applies for Residential Gas, Electric and Tankless water heaters. Exceptions: Tanks that have been rented for more than 15 years; customers who live more than 32 km from the designated drop off location; or DE does not pick tank up within 2 weeks of the customer’s request.

    Protection Plan Contracts (excluding energy contracts): If you cancel prior to the Anniversary Date of your Plan or if they cancel your Plan because a payment is overdue by more than thirty (30) days, any payments owing on the annual premium become due, except as stated otherwise in these Terms and Conditions.

    If this agreement was entered into through an agent of ours in person on or after Aug. 1, 2005 at a place other than our premises, you may cancel this agreement on the first annual Anniversary Date or any time thereafter by providing us with notice 90 days prior to cancellation. If you purchased our Bundled Plans, the entire Bundled Plan will be cancelled.

    ENERGY CONTRACTS: If you terminate your Variable Protection Plan, you will be required to pay Early Exit Fees, consisting of:

    (A) all amounts owed under this Agreement; plus

    (B) an administrative fee for residential customers of $200 ($400 if this Agreement is for both natural gas and electricity) or, for commercial customers, an Administrative fee of $500 ($1,000 if this Agreement is for both natural gas and electricity) prorated monthly for the remaining term of this Agreement; plus
    (C) the following amounts:

    (1) if this Agreement is for natural gas, the amount calculated by multiplying your Projected Consumption (defined below) of natural gas by the greater of: (X) 7.0¢/m3; and (Y) the difference between the Energy Charge for natural gas and the prevailing price of our most comparable product offered at the time this Agreement is terminated (but if the prevailing price is greater than the Energy Charge, the calculation of the difference will be deemed to be zero);

    and (2) if this Agreement is for electricity, the amount calculated by multiplying your Projected Consumption (defined below) of electricity by the greater of: (X) 1.5¢/kWh; and (Y) the difference between the Energy Charge for electricity and the prevailing price of our most comparable product offered at the time this Agreement is terminated (but if the prevailing price is greater than the Energy Charge, the calculation of the difference will be deemed to be zero).

    “Projected Consumption” means the number of months remaining in the Service Period (calculated as if this Agreement had not been terminated, and including any renewal term) multiplied by your average monthly natural gas or electricity consumption, as applicable (based on your most recent 12 months actual consumption as provided by your Utility).

    If your actual monthly consumption is not available from your Utility, your
    Utility’s current standard estimate of your consumption will be used.

    You must also pay all costs and expenses incurred by us (including legal fees incurred to collect the Early Exit Fees) that result from the termination.

    For greater certainty, the Early Exit Fees apply even if this Agreement is terminated before the Service Period has commenced and in that case, the number of months remaining in the Service Period for the purposes of the above calculation shall be deemed to be the total number of months in the Service Period.

    All this information is available online @ directenergy.com

  108. Jane

    Jun 23 2009

    IF YOU ARE HAVING PROBLEMS AND TIRED OF SPEAKING TO DIRECT ENERGY’S CALL CENTRE REPRESENTATIVES YOU CAN…

    EMAIL: executivesupport@directenergy.com
    PHONE: (877) 285-7402 OR (866) 907-7260

    FAX: (905) 943-6275

    MAIL HEAD OFFICE: 80 Allstate Pkwy Markham, ON L3R 6H3

  109. Jane Smothers

    Jun 23 2009

    IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING TROUBLES WITH DIRECT ENERGY… I RECEIVED THIS CONTACT INFORMATION TO AN EXECUTIVE SUPPORT DEPARTMENT RECENTLY… NO CALL CENTRE AGENTS!

    I was told that I could address my concerns to Deryk King (Chairman & CEO of Centrica North America) or to Bob Huggard (Direct Energy’s President of Canadian Operations).

    Email: executivesupport@directenergy.com
    Phone: (877) 285-7402
    Fax: (905) 943-6275
    Address: 80 Allstate Pkwy Markham, ON L3R 6H3

  110. Direct Nuisance

    Jun 25 2009

    Over the past two weeks I’ve had two salespeople from Direct Energy come knocking on my front door here in Toronto.

    First guy said he was “with the city” and came to inspect my water heater to make sure it was less than 5 years old. He had a binder full of low-quality photocopies of what appeared to be cut-open water heaters, to show me what might happen if my water heater was more than 5 years old.

    I asked if he worked for the city of Toronto. He said, “uh, no”. I then asked who he worked for. He replied “the gas company”. I asked which gas company. After trying to avoid an answer, he finally said “Direct Energy”.

    Two weeks later, (yesterday), another guy knocked on the door and said he had to inspect my water heater to make sure it was less than three years old. He said that “by law”, if it was more than 3 years old, he had to replace it. I asked which law he was talking about. He said he wasn’t really sure. He then pulled open the same type of binder as the first guy, and showed me the exact same low-quality photocopies. I just said ‘no’ and closed the door.

    Is there any way to stop these guys from bothering me? Last summer-fall, they would be on my doorstop once or twice during the week and two or three times each weekend. Sometimes they’d show up within hours of each other. It’s a non-stop thing: water heaters now, and then gas contracts as we move into fall.

    Direct Energy is the number one problem. It’s not charities or school kids trying to fundraise, it’s Direct Energy and their misleading (lying) tactics. Any way to charge them with something beyond trespass?

    We have a slightly-useful ‘Do Not Call’ list (which many companies ignore). How about a ‘Do Not Knock’ list?

  111. Civias

    Jul 7 2009

    My head hurts a little after reading all these comments :)
    Here’s my story:

    I have been DE’s “(un)voluntary” customer for app. 8.5 years. Initially they talked me into signing right after arriving to Canada in 2000. I had no clue how things work here and on the other hand, the offer didn’t even sound bad.

    Well the first 5 years passed, now I know I for sure didn’t save much. The agreement automatically renewed.

    Up to then they charged app.26c/m3 gas. In the 5 years the rate fluctuated between 21 and 29c at the local supplier. As I said I didn’t really win or loose much.
    Now, after the automatic renewal DE “quietly” and “slightly” increased they rate to a stunning 42.7c, without ever asking for my consent. Today’s rate at my local supplier is about 23c!!!
    That’s where the red lights went on.

    Nevertheless, I did pay my bills without complaining for the last 3.5 years, knowing it would be pretty hard to get out of this scam.
    You will ask why? Well, easy story. I had the intention to sell my house anyways like 3 years ago. Of course not because of DE lol! More for private reasons. However my house sale got postponed and delayed a couple times.
    Finally this June I sold it. I thought that will solve the DE problem too.
    So again, I sold my house in Ontario, and live now in my sons new house as a temporary solution. The plan is to move back to Europe pretty soon.
    So I cancelled my local suppliers gas contract, they accepted and adviced me that I have to cancel DE directly there. I did so, was given after some debates and explanations a cancellation authorization #. I clearly was promised by that person there would not be any kind of charges, as this is a satisfying reason to cancel. I only had to provide proof of the house sale and also that in my son’s house he’s the one responsible for the gas bill.
    So I faxed these proofs immediately.

    Now, 3 weeks later I’m getting mail from DE :)))
    They want $1,400.47 (I start loving them)
    Their explanation: Cancellation? > NO PROBLEM!!!
    The above amount is no penalty, it is their “early cancellation fee to compensate for their loss” haha

    Their loss, as if they didn’t collect 42.7c for the past 3.5 years while the price was down to 23c!!!!

    At this time I don’t yet know what to do, the letter arrived yesterday. But one thing is for sure, they won’t get 1 penny from me.

    Anyone can help or has a good advice??
    Dear Ellen, can you help me?

    Thankful
    Civias

  112. Civias

    Jul 7 2009

    One more thing I forgot to mention:

    3-4 years ago at my office location a DE sales rep showed up. They show up app 2-3 times a month btw. But this one was very friendly so I had a longer discussion with him. At the end he finally understood I didn’t need his services because I didn’t even had any gas appliances at my business location. Well, he “understood”, and all he wanted was a business card for his records. No problem, I gave him one.

    End of story???? NOOOO, as you can guess!
    Some time later I received via regular mail a confirmation as a new customer (without even having gas!!!) :)))
    On my request DE even faxed a signed contract form to me!

    Unfortunately for them, of course it wasn’t my signature below the copied business card. I explained that and threatened a little with a lawyer after they started becoming harrassing on the phone.
    A couple days later, they sent a letter and ask for apology.
    They said that specific sales person seems to have done that repeatedly and got fired.

    Never heard again of that one, still have the documentation.

    END OF STORY (Happy End) :)))
    Civias

  113. MC

    Jul 16 2009

    Dear Direct Energy executive support,

    I strongly urge you to visit the following blogs for some amazing stories and comments, even though you may have heard or read them hundreds of times already – by obligation, but hardly been impacted in your lives or moved in your hearts a bit.

    You and your executives could still sleep well every night after you were sure that some profits have gone into your accounts and kept on growing. You have sent an army of forces to the targeted areas that you have conquered.

    I would never have paid much attention to such unbelievable stories or even knew they existed had my gas bills not gone skyrocketing from my gas supplier, Direct Energy,when the natural gas prices have been declining!

    However, I am not as fortunate as you are, since I am not in any position to earn my living through ways described in those stories. Instead I became one of them crying ‘I cannot believe it’ that a portion of my hard-earned money was gone!

    After I went through each of the stories, I thought there was no need to add one more – that was a waste of my energy if you don’t give a damn!

    Please take a little break from counting the figures in your accounts or balance sheets and read once more.

    http://blog.ellenroseman.com/?p=378

    http://blog.ellenroseman.com/?p=367

    Your operation has deviated from what you have claimed on your website:

    “Corporate Responsibility is built in, not built on. .. We treat Corporate Responsibility as a function of cultural behavior…..Living our values, delivering on our promises and continuing to be a profitable company is what makes us committed to a strong model for good corporate citizenship.”

    You should have the courage to stand up and apologize to your customers who have fallen into your well designed deceptive trap and correct your mistakes to win back their trust, even you have teams of lawyers, engineers and professionals to cover your wrongdoing under the laws.

    You should discard the door-to-door forcible sales strategies and the negative-renewal-option altogether.

    It’s time to bring about the must fundamental changes of your management style and establish a sound customer service network for your customers before they become desperate enough to seek help from the media or the Government of Ontario to demand an end to the dysfunction of deregulation.

    We know too well now what the ‘DEREGULATION’ of the financial sector in the United States government brought to people all over the world after the subprime financial disaster.

    There is nothing wrong in aiming to ‘be a profitable company’ under the free enterprise system — if and only if you base your business strategies on honest, ethical standards and humanitarian principles. Otherwise, you and your stakeholders shall bear the consequence of loss.

    Wait no longer to show your leadership in corporate responsibility and have a vision for the future. Be the first to take actions before any publicity or lawsuits bring shame to your reputation.

    Regards,
    An angry customer

  114. James Nick B

    Jul 21 2009

    Here is my story of the week July 20, 2009.

    Two years ago, I bought a new furnace/air conditioner with a warranty. The bad news was I had a existing service agreement with Direct Energy. I was thinking of cancelling the Direct Energy contract, as the company’s reputation has been well documented, but I really didn’t want the hassle of cancelling.

    Lo and behold, I noticed I somehow had been signed up for an enhanced service plan on top of my existing Direct Energy plan and on top of my new furnace warranty. Boy, was I really protected.

    Then shortly afterward, I was told by Enbridge that one of their customers gave them my address as their final billing address. To protect my security, they had to give me a new account number.

    So all my preauthorized payments were cancelled and I had to pay everything off, including all service contract fees at once.

    During the process of trying to cancel with Direct Energy, I had threats to cut off my gas, put me in collection and dire messages via phone and voice mail. Meanwhile, I now had a new account with Enbridge that was completely current.

    After numerous phone calls to Direct Energ and emails to Enbridge, I finally was able to cancel the service contracts and determine what I owed Enbridge. Which I will pay at the bank tomorrow.

    What a bunch of creeps to deal with. I wrote to Enbridge and complained about Direct Energy and themselves. But being a realist, I realize they will not give a damn. All they want is their money, legal or otherwise, and provide a total customer disservice.

  115. Jack

    Aug 4 2009

    Well, I have a terrible story.

    I am running a small store, working 7 days a week, average 12-14 hours a day. When I took over the business, there was a lady who used to live across the street (an agent of Direct Energy). After a couple of months, she approached me and asked me to switch over our hydro to Direct Energy with a promise of saving lots of money.

    She was after me for more than a week to change over. She promised me that there will not be any penalty: “You don’t have to pay a single penny more for changing to Direct Energy.” She never ever mentioned any penalty, despite my asking her if there is any.

    She never ever mentioned that you cannot get out of the contract without any penalty. Finally I said ok, I trust your words and she came with papers and pointed where to sign and that’s it.

    Now I am stuck with Direct Energy, paying on an average $900/month more than what I used to and if I want to cancel the contract I have to pay $800/month for left over period. When I called them, I was asked to pay $17,000 to break the contract for the remaining 21 months.. and this amount has to be up front.

    Well, I learned a lesson from this and never ever will go back with Direct Energy in my life and will not sign any damn thing without getting it read to my lawyer.

    Direct Energy is the worst in ripping people off. Is there anyone who can do anything to straigten out a company like this???

  116. Lindsay

    Aug 6 2009

    Ellen FINALLY helped me out of my Universal mess. Thanks for standing up to these scammers!

  117. Roger

    Aug 6 2009

    I have a really easy question. Where should I mail the cancellation/do-not-renew letter, in order to get rid of this nasty Direct Energy contract that I’ve had for years and years?

    I’ve tried looking EVERYWHERE online and on my bills, and there is just no address. The address that the call-center rep gave me is false, and I am getting quite frustrated.

    They’ve put me off for months now, and I am approaching my contract end in November, but they still haven’t sent me a renewal/cancellation package yet, and I definitely want to make SURE it is cancelled by this November.

  118. Jeff

    Aug 20 2009

    Thoughts and comments are most welcome! If anyone knows of an individual within Direct Energy Regulated Services in Albert, Canada who I could forward my complaint to please advise! Right now I have been told that I will be contacted by the Direct Energy Customer Experience Team but have heard nothing yet.

    On Friday August 15, 2009 I arrived home and was very surprised to find out that my natural gas service had been turned off. I immediately contacted my gas billing company – Direct Energy Regulated Services. Below is a summary of what transpired over the 24 hours that followed, and includes my efforts and frustrated attempts to get my gas (furnace & water heater) turned back on. Please understand that I work away from home the majority of time and that the Direct Energy bill was simply overlooked and not paid up to date. The weather in my city at this time was dipping down below 5 degrees overnight. A working furnace and hot water were a necessity for the individuals living in the house.

    My first call to Direct Energy was straight forward. I provided a credit card number to the CSR and was given a reference number where the account had been paid off. The individual that I spoke with informed me that I would need to call Atco Gas (the service provider) first thing the next morning (Saturday) to have the service turned back on. I was also given the phone number to call.

    I called Atco gas shortly after they opened at 7am Saturday morning only to find out that the number that I was given by Direct Energy was the Monday-Friday number for Atco gas. I did a search and ended up calling the 24 emergency number for Atco and got through to their dispatch right away. Atco went into their files and had yet to receive an order from Direct Energy to turn the service back on. How could this be? My account with Direct Energy was paid off the night before.

    Another call was made to Direct Energy. I explained to the CSR that my account was paid off, and that Atco Gas had not received the order to turn the service back on. I was put on hold for at least 5 minutes while the person on the other end of the line investigated. The Direct Energy CSR came back on and explained to me that she had tried to call Atco Gas also and found out that the number was for Monday to Friday only and that I would need to wait until Monday for Atco to turn the service back on. I explained to her that there was a 24 emergency number that Direct Energy could call in order to speak with Atco. Again I was put on hold for at least another 5 minutes. When the CSR came back on the line she explained that she was unable to call the Atco emergency number for reasons she could not explain. She did however give me an connection order service number which I could give to Atco.

    I called Atco Gas once again, explained all of the above and I offered them the service order from Direct Energy to have my service turned back on. The individual from Atco explained that they could not accept a verbal service order from a customer, and needed to have electronic confirmation directly from Direct Energy to proceed.

    Again another call was made to Direct Energy. This conversation included a summary of everything that I had gone through to this point. Once again the CSR that I spoke with could not do anything for me and would not call into the Atco Gas emergency number to have my service turned back on, and to get myself and my family out of the cold. I was put on hold at least another 2 times and it was at this point I requested to speak with the CSR’s supervisor.

    I was transferred to the Direct Energy call in supervisor. This individual was very direct to the point where it seemed as though her responses to me were scripted in front of her. The comments she made were very demeaning and obviously meant to make me stand down and accept the fact that I would not be getting gas service until Monday at the earliest. The conversation between me and Direct Energy supervisor went on for at least 25 minutes where I explained that me and my family were sitting in the cold with no working furnace or hot water, and that all she needed to do was to call the Atco Gas 24 hour number and give them verbal confirmation to turn my gas service back on. This person stated that they did not offer emergency service and it was not their “policy” to call Atco gas on behalf of the customer.

    Below are a few more notable points from the conversation I had with the Direct Energy CSR supervisor:
    1. I asked what Direct Energy would do if it was the middle of winter @ 40 below making the house unlivable and the water pipes freezing. I was told that it wasn’t cold enough to be a concern and that Direct Energy had different policies for winter. It was at this point that I realized that the conversation I was having with the Direct Energy CSR supervisor had nothing to do with their policy and everything to do with the power trip which this individual was on. I am sure that she was proud of the fact that she had the ability to deny my claim, and to leave myself and my family in the cold with no hot water for another 48 hours. Again I was told that Direct Energy would not be calling Atco Gas on a Saturday.
    2. I asked the supervisor to be put through to the next level of authority. The supervisor said that she would put me through to the Direct Energy “Customer Experience Team.”
    3. She hung up on me.

    Again I called into Direct Energy. This time I spoke with a different CSR. I explained to him the whole situation and again I was put on hold. The CSR came back on the line and explained that he did not have the ability to call the Atco Gas emergency number from his system. He asked me if I had the ability to conference call on my phone and if I could call Atco Gas and have a 3way conversation. It was at this point that I began to realize that there may be light at the end of the tunnel. I do not have conference call on my land line so I called the Atco number on my cell phone and put both telephones on speaker so that Direct Energy could speak with Atco Gas. Authorization was given to Atco Gas by Direct Energy to turn my gas service back on as soon as possible. The Direct Energy CSR provided his employee number to Atco Gas as confirmation of the order. My gas service was restored later that day.

    In the end I did whatever was needed to get my furnace and hot water turned back on for the weekend. I fully admit that I messed up with the Direct Energy bill and have since set them up to do direct monthly withdrawals from my cheqing account when billing is due. I really have to wonder why I had to go through what I did in order to get the basic necessities of heating and hot water for my home. Direct Energy needs to do a complete revaluation of their policies for emergency service to ensure no other customer has to go through what I did. This will happen again to another customer who may simply sit back and accept the fact that Direct Energy will not be able to do anything for them on a weekend. People will get sick because of this or even worse.

    I learned early on in my career that one of the main objectives of quality is “satisfying customer requirements.” Direct Energy has a long way to go if they want any hope of achieving this objective.

  119. Eric

    Aug 21 2009

    I would like to detail the horrible experience I had dealing with Direct Energy. I sold my home and vacated the home on April 30, 2009. On April 20, I called to schedule a MVO. The MVO was never processed.

    I callled several times after continuing to receive bills. Many times I was given the runaround and attitude. Many times there was no record of me calling. I was offered no help, was treated poorly, and the lack of respect by Direct Energy representatives has been appalling.

    I finally filed a complaint with the BBB on June 20, 2009. As a result, Direct Energy found that I should not have been billed past April 30, since a new resident was occupying my home. My account was closed and my balance made zero. In fact, I was issued a credit for $21.60.

    Well, after thinking this ordeal was finally solved, I was once again charged by Direct Energy on my credit card for $162.52 on Aug. 4. I called Direct Energy immediately, and of course, they had no record of my BBB claim, no record of my account being closed and set to zero. I have reopened my complaint with the BBB. I also notified my credit card company of fraudulent charges by Direct Energy. I have also filed a complaint with the Texas Utilities Commission.

    I want this issue resolved, my account closed, and a refund of $162.52 placed on my card immediately.

  120. ann

    Aug 25 2009

    Apparently I have been scammed twice!!

    I called Direct Energy last month and asked them to cancel my “contract” with them. They said they would, but I just received my new bill and they are still listed as the supplier.

    In addition to this, I called my electricity company to inquire about high bills, only to find out that I am getting electricity from Universal Energy. I called, and got the runaround a few times, and was told, after strongly requesting it, that a copy of my “contract” will be emailed to me. This was, of course, after the rep told me that by cashing some cheque, that meant a “contract”–also that our “contract” has been reviewed and we will need to pay a penalty for early cancellation in an amount that will later be revealed to us in a letter!!

    The thing is, I remember someone coming to my door and talking to me about how the energy bills would rise and I need to sign with them to avoid these high bills–and I remember saying NO!! Also, they say it is in my husband’s name, who was out of town at the time.

    Please help, I don’t know what to do about this, and it’s draining us to continue paying such high bills unneccessarily!!

  121. Alan

    Sep 9 2009

    Hello Ellen. I have read some of the comments above and have a very similar situation with DE.

    I am a university student at Waterloo. Last September was my first time renting a house, so I guess I was easy prey for the DE door-to-door sales reps.

    Their exact wording was forgotten, but they essentially gave the impression that I would not be receiving gas unless I signed up with them. They also informed me that I would not have to pay a cancellation fee when I moved. I asked this because I am a student and move every few months or so.

    They demanded the bottom portion of my first bill with Union Gas. Later on, they returned this bill to me by mail after they used it to find out my account information, I am sure.

    A few days after the sales rep spoke to me at my door, I received a phone call asking me to confirm. Again, I was very inexperienced and uninformed, so I agreed.

    It has been a year and I have indeed moved to a new house (lease). I have received a bill for a cancellation fee from DE that was well over $1,000.

    Firstly, I don’t remember signing a written contract. Also, I was informed that I would NOT be charged a cancellation fee for moving.

    I have pulled up my bills and noticed for the first time that the latter payments do indeed say “your gas supplier is Direct Energy.” I am not trying to get back any money that I paid them. I am merely in a situation where I must cancel with them because I moved to a new house, where the landlord has her own accounts and I just pay her.

    Direct Energy is giving me atrocious customer service, trying to make me pay a cancellation fee I had been led to believe that I didn’t need to pay.

    I have heard that you are someone who can fight for my rights regarding this issue. Please help me resolve this! I look forward to your reply. Thanks so much!

  122. Meagan J

    Sep 22 2009

    I had a Direct Energy sales agent come to my home and tell me he needed to see my bill so that he can give me a “discount” on my bills because I was being overcharged.

    I didn’t want to show him my bill, and when I asked him to leave, he would NOT! I asked this man 4 times to leave, and he would not without seeing the bill!

    I finally let him see it, and he said he needed to write down some of the information from my bill and then he would be in touch in a few weeks. I just wanted him to leave my home! (NOTE I AM NOT ON THE BILL, MY BOYFRIEND IS, AND WAS NOT THERE TO SIGN OR GIVE CONSENT FOR THIS!!)

    Now we find out we were switched from our hyrdo company to Direct Energy, then removed from Direct Energy. They want almost $600 for a disconnect we did NOT consent to connecting to in the first place! This is FRAUD and when we call they say that it’s our responsibility.

    We have NOW contacted a lawyer and will be suing them for harrassment and FRAUD!! This has caused a lot of stress and money they have overcharged us! And not to mention the harrassing calls they have made stressing us out!! DO NOT open your door to these scum bags! They are FRAUDS!

  123. Becki Bright

    Sep 23 2009

    In response to Alan on Sept. 9, 2009:

    If you have moved to a location outside of Ontario, or to a place where Direct Energy can’t service you (i.e. you are not responsible for the utility bills), all you have to do is provide proof that you live there (i.e. driver’s licence) and proof that someone else at that specific address is paying for the bills or that it’s included in your rent.

    A copy of your rental/lease agreement would show what you are (not) responsible to pay for in terms of gas/hydro. Or if you’re living with parents or something, a copy of their utility bills showing their names at that address.

    Just call customer service to get the fax number to send that information to, and once they receive it, they will waive your early termination fee. Just make sure to keep a copy of your fax transmission receipt if you later need to prove you actually sent it in. Good luck!

  124. Michele

    Oct 3 2009

    Here’s an email I sent to Direct Energy:

    I am a real estate agent with 20 years experience. I have subscribed to the furnace protection program for years because I was told that if anything went wrong with my furnace it would be fixed free of charge, except for the heat exchanger. This program also provided for a once yearly inspection and cleaning.

    Last June I phoned as my furnace had not been inspected as required by the program. Some technician was sent out, did an inspection–asked me when my heat exchanger was replaced as it appeared to be brand new. He told me the furnace was in excellent shape, except for a few minor rust spots on the exterior.

    Yesterday I attempted to start my furnace. There was a bad smell. I opened the windows, shut the furnace down, aired out the house and called Direct Energy. While I was describing the problem, I mentioned that there was a smell like incomplete combustion and I was transferred to someone who told me that I was to evacuate the building and that he was calling the fire department.

    I repeatedly told him the fire department was not necessary–there was no CO monitor going off, I did not smell rotten eggs, it was a different smell and the furnace was off. I needed someone to fix the furnace. He called the fire department (I live 1/2 block away from them in a small town) and of course they thought I called. It was embarrassing as there was nothing the fire department could do. This was a furnace repair problem.

    I called again for an appointment to have someone fix the furnace. This time, the rep was very abrupt asked how I knew it wasn’t working and I repeated that the fan didn’t go on when it started and there was a strange smell. He made an appointment for this morning (Saturday).

    I waited from 7:45 a.m. until the technician arrived just before noon. This gentleman took a very long time, at one point came upstairs and told me that my vent (?) motor was making strange noises. Sometime later, he asked me to go downstairs and showed me a camera thing and stated that my heat exchanger was badly cracked in several places and in poor condition.

    The furnace had not been used from the last tech visit in June until the day before this latest tech visit today.

    Either one of these inpsections is clearly fraudulent. I have either paid for furnace protection and a yearly inspection and received a fraudulent inspection in June OR the inspection conducted today in which my furnace has been red tagged is fraudulent.

    I have been told (from an independent dealer I consulted to install an appliance who used to be a contractor for Direct Energy) that it is your company’s policy to worry people, particularly those who are vulnerable i.e. elderly or single women about equipment needing to be replaced when it fact it was fully operational.

    I have waited all day for my calls to your customer support centre to be returned. The second time I called I was told that my call was a priority.

    I would appreciate you or someone in charge looking at this situation and explaining to me how a furnace in near pristine condition can deteriorate in three months so dramatically without even being in use!

    Your prompt response is greatly appreciated

  125. Jon

    Oct 13 2009

    I thought I would relate my story, in case any readers have been to Direct Energy’s website and read about their “professional installation.”

    A couple of years ago, I decided to buy a high effeciency Gas Furnace from Luced Heating (Direct Energy) in Edmonton. The following year, I happened to open the front cover and found the furnace full of rust.

    As it turned out, not only had they installed the venting system sloping back into the furnace (it is supposed to slope toward the outside end to allow condensate to drip out of the house), but they had not tightened the clamps where the vent system (two pipes, air in and exhaust out) attach inside the furnace.

    Acidic condensate had been backing up and dripping into the funace for a year. One might expect, since the installation had been inspected by the City of Edmonton, that it would meet minimal safety standards.

    Well, I phoned the city inspector and was told that “We don’t actually touch the unit, we just look at it, because if we touched it, it would void the warranty.”

    I guess putting a spirit level on the vent pipe was too much to ask, let alone checking to see if the clamps were even done up.

    I discovered the undone clamps within a few seconds, but they “looked” ok until you turned them and discovered they had never been tightened. They were just sitting there, undone, leaking gas and acid into the furnace. Actually, we were lucky we weren’t poisoned.

    I took pictures of the inside of the furnace and wrote a letter to Luced, suggesting that not only was this installation substandard, it was also dangerous. I demanded a replacement unit and proper installation.

    I suggested that legal action might be in order should my problem not be addressed. I also sent a letter to the City of Edmonton, suggesting that their substandard inspection had put my family at risk.

    I think the City must have got in touch with Direct Energy, as they replaced the furnace pretty quick. I will give them that.

    However, the free yearly inspections for 5 years that I was supposed to get have never materialized. I have never heard from them. I hate to think what will happen if I need warranty work.

    When the crew came out with the new furnace, I asked them what had happened to the boneheads who did the original installation. It seems they had been promoted to the commercial installation department!! Pity the poor business owners who get to deal with them.

    By the way, they also broke my stair threshold and cut my co-axial cable during their installation, so I had to fix that too.

    Not sure what to suggest here, if you are getting a new furnace. Perhaps ensure that you are present for the City inspection, and insist that they check the exhaust system properly, rather than just “look” at the furnace. Perhaps you should check the fittings and the slope of the vent pipe yourself.

    At the very least, for safety’s sake, the exhaust system has to be tight and working properly. Otherwise, your new expensive furnace might just kill you and your family.

  126. Cathy

    Oct 17 2009

    Without Heat for 15 days

    Hello Ellen, we are not sure where to turn. We have been loyal customers of Direct Energy for years, with protection plans for all of our heating and cooling units. We have two residences and rely on them to provide protection service plans for these units.

    On Oct. 11, 2009, we called Direct Energy to tell them our furnace was not working. We had no heat. On Monday, a technician showed up, stated we required a new circuit board for the furnace and they would order this within 24 hours.

    We heard back from Direct Energy after 26 hours through a phone message stating that the part was not available until Oct. 26th, and “hope you have a nice day!”

    We are in a cold snap, as you know, and the temperature in our house is currently at 55 degrees (F). It is rapidly dropping as I write this.

    We called their customer care line, and after a good deal of pleading, we were transferred to a supervisor – Shelly. She stated she was new, had a great heart, and was learning the ropes. We stated that not having heat for 15 days was unacceptable and that we would need to move into a hotel. We expected Direct Energy to pay for this until they found the part for our furnace. That was Thurs. Oct. 15th.

    We were told that the most they could offer was a rebate of 3 months of the protection plan. However, there was still no ETA on the missing part. We were welcome to go out and purchase space heaters at our cost to get us through this!

    We requested the name and email of the VP of Customer Service for Direct Energy and they committed to sending us this by email – still no response. We also requested an update on the ETA of the part and that no matter where in the world it came from, that it could be expedited by courier or airplane. No response.

    We are cold, angry and very frustrated by the breach of protection plan contract, as well as their customer charter they dare post on their website. How can we have them respond and solve our problem? How can we make them accountable from a contract standpoint? And more importantly, how can we make the greater public aware this is not a customer friendly organization?

    We sure could use your help, and yes, we have been long standing fans of yours – we just don’t know where to turn. Thanking you in advance for your support with this,
    Regards, and still freezing…

  127. SH

    Oct 21 2009

    I want to tell you about the problem I have. I paid for Direct Energy’s HIP program and they came to do the regular maintenance on Oct. 2.

    Their employee showed up and I led him to my furnace. Within 2 minutes, he called me down to the basement and said I needed a new furnace because it was 23 years old and the heat exchanger could go at any time. He said if that happened, it could leak CO2.

    I asked him how he came to this conclusion so quickly. He pointed a flashlight at my heat exchanger and said that it had rust.

    He then said he was going to turn my furnace off and luckily, he had a “SALESMAN” in the area who could drop in on me.

    At the same time, he badmouthed two other companies and their work.

    I asked what test he ran to see if CO2 was leaking and said that I had CO2 detectors in my home. Also, a furnace could run for 25 years or longer.

    In addition, near the end of last winter, they had a maintenance guy come in and replace my motor and he said nothing about needing a new furnace.

    I did not run my air conditioner this summer and said how could it have changed. I again asked what test he ran to see if it was leaking CO2.

    He said he did not have to do this, packed up his flashlight and left, with my furnace turned off.

    I called Direct Enery and was asked if he had “TAGGED” my furnace. I said he did not and again asked how he had the authority to turn off my furnace with only a cursory check with a flashlight and no testing if it was indeed leaking.

    They said they did not know and were going to escalate this to their supervisor. Since I had no heat, I said a quick reponse was needed.

    I then had another heating company come in. He said that all old furnaces would have some rust on them, but he saw nothing wrong with mine.

    They suggested I could change now to get the various rebates, but that the furnace was working fine.

    By Tuesday, Oct. 5, I had not heard anything from Direct Energy. I called again and was told that someone would call me back. But I never heard anything.

    I told the customer service rep that I wanted to cancel my HIP program and to be reimbursed the money, as they did not do the job that they were contracted to do. They said this would have to be addressed when they called me back.

    It seemed funny that he turned it off within 3 minutes and then conveniently had a salesman in the area to sell me a new one. My furnace was working fine before he came and my CO2 detectors did not indicate any problem.

    Was this a scam to replace my furnace and generate sales? It seems that Direct Energy is unwilling to address this complaint in a timely manner. As far as they know, I have now had no heat for 6 days. Unacceptable.

    ————————————————————

    Hi Ellen, thank you for putting me in touch with Direct Energy. After a week, I finally received a response to my question of what criteria they use before shutting down someone’s furnace.

    I recently had a home energy audit done and they say this is happening a lot in Aurora and Newmarket. I was glad to get my HIP money back. From the response I received, it appears that selling me a new furnace may have been the primary target. See below.

    Mr. H,

    Let me begin by apologizing for the experience you’ve received. Our technician did not follow Direct Energy’s procedures when he conducted your furnace maintenance.

    I appreciate that you are reluctant to have another Direct Energy technician in your home. However, I hope that this note assures you that Direct Energy would like to correct the situation and have a supervisor visit your home to inspect your furnace.

    Direct Energy technicians are trained to complete an eight-point checklist when conducting a furnace maintenance. Unfortunately, our technician did not complete all eight steps before turning off your furnace.

    Included in the checklist are:

    · Check ambient air and venting for elevated carbon monoxide levels;

    · Check that the unit is operating at manufacturer’s stated input

    · Check flame signal

    · Check current draw on fan/pump motor

    · Check operation of all safety and operational controls

    · Check for proper temperature rise across unit

    · Inspect masonry chimney, clean-out, venting, condensation system

    · Test unit by putting it through a full operation cycle

    A furnace’s heat exchanger is its heart. The Natural Gas and Propane Installation code states that “where the heat exchange of a furnace installed in a dwelling unit is found to be defective, it shall be replaced.”

    A defective heat exchanger can cause a serious safety hazard and, as such, the furnace must be tagged/turned off.

    Possible signs of a defective heat exchanger include: flame distortion, delayed ignition, odors, elevated carbon monoxide readings, excessive condensation, pilot outage and high accumulation of rust and/or carbon deposits.

    If any of these signs are present, the technician would conduct further tests which could lead to the tagging/turning off of the furnace.

    In your case, further tests should have been done when the technician saw rust on the heat exchanger. We have provided further coaching to the technician about our process.

    Per your request, we have cancelled your heating protection plan and provided you with a full credit.

  128. Bob Blainey

    Oct 24 2009

    Furnace not repaired after 1 month of waiting.

    I am at the end of my patience with this company. My monthly service contract payments are over $146. They promise 24-hour service. They simply don’t deliver.

    We have had visits from technicians and they have needed to order a series of parts (each technician seems to come to a different conclusion). The parts usually arrive promptly, but then we need to call back to arrange another visit by a technician. Their promises to send technicians are hollow.

    Frankly, they are either completely duplicitous or incompetent because we have had repeated instances where they promise to send a technician and he doesn’t arrive and nobody calls us to tell us.

    Yesterday, for instance, I was promised a technician sometime between 12-4, then we were promised 5-9, then we were assured by “executive service” (whatever that is) that the technician would certainly arrive before midnight.

    I called back at 12:15 pm that night to be told that the technician couldn’t find my house and had called to confirm. That is a lie.

    I asked for a call promptly at 8:30 this morning, expecting that I would be their very first appointment, given that I’ve been waiting for a month to get the furnace fixed and waited a full 12 hours for no purpose yesterday. I did not get the call. I called back and they had no apology or even recognition of their promise to call me back.

    I complained vigorously that they should be treating my case with absolutely top priority, unless there are others who have been waiting longer than a month (gasp). They promised to have someone here at 1 pm, apparently still prioritizing other cases over mine.

    I have no faith whatsoever that they will follow though. I also have no expectation now that they will apologize or even bother to call me. I don’t know where to turn.

  129. Ron

    Oct 30 2009

    I asked Direct Energy to quote on a new boiler. The rep came to my home in a Mercedes E350. He quoted $8,800 including tax for the new boiler.

    The heating contractor that last worked in my home installed a Slant/Fin Galaxy boiler for exactly half of the quote from Direct Energy. They are scammers and prey on the ill-informed and elderly for sure.

  130. Yang Song

    Nov 8 2009

    I go to university in 2009 in Lethbridge, Alberta. I rent a place close to my school; it is in a student residential area.

    Two days before classes start, a Direct Energy salesman tricks me into signing their five year contract like some many others. I am not even the landlord of this place. I didn’t know it was a contract, I thought I was only getting my bill’s name changed from the previous renter.

    There was NO way I would choose to sign up for a five year plan, because I was graduating and leaving the province in eight months.

    When the new bill comes, the cost is ridiculous. In December, January and February, the utility cost is $500 per month; that’s more than my monthly rent.

    In December, the place was empty because I have gone back home for the winter break. When I call them and asked why the price was so high, they said it was an estimate and I would get a rebate for it, which I never got.

    Same thing has happened to my classmates. They just knock on doors one-by-one in the many student townhouse areas and get students into contracts.

    When I left Alberta, they were still charging for the place where I no longer lived and sent a rude collector on me who ordered me out of bed at 7:00 am, BC time.

  131. Brian Horning

    Nov 9 2009

    I have had nothing but issues with this company and hope that anyone who reads this does not get caught up with them.

    When the salesperson first came to the door, she misrepresented the company by telling us lies about how they were affiliated with the supplier that we were using and are (thank goodness) back dealing with again. All she told us was that the colour of our bill would change. That was all.

    We signed paperwork that we thought was just for them to take over the gas part of our utilities. Then we started getting bills for our electricity, which is not what we thought we were signing up for.

    We made many phone calls with very very rude customer reps and thought everything was taken care of and credited back for gas and electric.

    Then two months later, we received a bill of $642.55 which was for late penalties and for cancellation fees. With many more calls to rude customer reps we finally decided to pay the bill in full, just to get them off our back.

    Now a month later, they are sending us a bill for $8.08 for late payment penalty. When I phoned the customer rep again, she tells me that it is a final adjustment, not a late penalty fee.

    Asked why it takes from July to November to get that information, even with the numerous calls to find out our outstanding bill, she said that sometimes it takes that long to get the information from the meter readers.

    So I am recommending to anyone I know and those reading this, never sign with Direct Energy, they are a ripoff company.

    When that salesman comes knocking at the door, either send the dog out after them or at the very least slam the door shut in their face.

  132. Paul Harrison

    Nov 17 2009

    I’m at work today and my wife calls me to tell me that Direct Energy is at our house to do an annual check or cleaning. This is supposed to be free of charge with our service contract for our furnace.

    I tell her I never made a appointment with Direct, but she has already let the technician in. I tell her since they are already there, let them do their stuff .

    Two hours later, my wife calls me to tell me that we have a problem. A second technician showed up to help the first. They cleaned the furnace but now it’s showing 220ppm CO levels. They say that I have to replace the heat exchanger (HE), which is covered by my warranty but not the labour cost of $700.

    These guys were in the house for 3 hours trying to make the furnace work. In that time, they replaced a pressure switch/inducer replacement kit to help the furnace get rid of the CO2. This was done free of charge .

    When they leave, they red tag my furnace. So my pregnant wife and 4 year old are in the house without heat .

    I have a CO detector in my basement. It has never gone off. It is a Kidde brand detector.

    Now I’m waiting to find out exactly who generated the appointment. My wife and I can never recall making such a appointment, especially since she is working nights this week.

    I’m not sure what to do if I find out we never made this appointment. I know my wife should have never let anyone in. But what is done is done.

    My furnace is a Lennox model # G24M3-75A-1 about 15 years old.

    What are my options with this company? Is there any recourse? The furnace was working fine before they touched it.

    How much is a new furnace gong to cost me?

    How quickly can a company install a furnace?

  133. Direct Energy employee

    Dec 10 2009

    I am an employee. What they require employees to do in selling is ridiculous. They force you to make sales or you will receive consequences.

    For example, I have seen employees with the best customer service skills lose their job because their sales were low. If you do not lose your job, they threaten to cut down your hours.

    So, in fear, guess what the employees do? They put customers on protection plans without their consent.

    All you have to do is call and with a few clicks of a button, you’re enrolled in a plan.

    Now, the customer will have to fight for months to prove they never accepted a plan. I deal with this all the time.

    Direct Energy forces you to lie to customers as well. They really don’t care. Whatever you have to say to get the customer to get onto a plan, say it.

    For example, if a customer already has our heating plus protection plan, which includes repair for their furnace with an annual preventative maintenance, we usually try to upgrade them to our 3 in 1 protection plan. This includes repair to your furnace, air conditioner, plumbing and drains for an extra $9 a month.

    But that’s not the truth! You lose the annual maintenance, which people really want. So, you get customers screaming at you saying they have been tricked.

    Then you try to sell the customer the annual maintenance again for an extra $9.

    Customers are always complaining that technicans come to their home and report that the heat exchangers on their furnaces are cracked without even looking. This is totally expensive!

    One customer reported to me that the technician deemed her furnace as defective and her exchanger needed replacing. As the technicians were leaving her home, one tech says to the other, “If I report one more heat exchanger, I get a ginsu knife set.” The customer was furious.

  134. Aaron McColl

    Dec 18 2009

    Ontario Energy Board June 23, 2009
    PO Box 2319, 2300 Young St
    27th Floor Suite 2701
    Toronto On
    M4P1E4

    Cc: David Christopherson, MP
    22 Tisdale St S
    Hamilton On L8N2V9

    Attention: Brian Hewson

    Mr Hewson, I am writing you under that counsel of the office of David Christopherson MP, whom advises that; you might be able to help me.

    At some time last fall a man came to my door and introduced him self as being “from” Union Gas. He asked if I knew what I was paying per cubic meter. I responded no. He then asked to first verify my information and account number on file. I got a bill for him and he said ok that’s great however we dint have an email address or phone number on file for you, which I then gave him. Now this man even had papers sticking out of the bottom of his clip board with the union gas name and logo on it.

    I was then told that by signing up with Direct Energy we would save some money. I immediately said to the guy, “I thought you said you were from Union Gas?” He replied that Union Gas has authorized Direct Energy to sell Natural Gas. At that point I informed him that I was not interested in anything other then what the gas company has, thank you, good bye.

    I forgot all about this person, when one day I noticed on my Union Gas bill the name Direct Energy. I called Union Gas, and they told me to call Direct Energy.
    Direct Energy told me that I had signed up for a 5 year contract. I then filed a complaint with the Ontario Energy Board. The OEB told me that yes I am right, if I did not sign up that this was not right, however, I was also told that there was no enforcement power and that I would have to contact my lawyer.

    The response from Direct Energy was a letter which I have enclosed. I spoke to Amanda Smith who nearly laughed at me on the phone saying that I had signed up on the internet. I explained to her what had happened with the agent, yet her response was, we don’t do things like that.

    I did not sign up, nor did anyone from this house sign up to Direct Energy. The only person that had that information was the man that came to the door. I asked for something with my signature on it, and all I received was a report saying I had signed up over the internet. I then asked for an IP address to be given, which was not.

    Frankly I find this to be very scary! Do we now live in a country where the consumer has to prove that he/she did not sign something? Is the burden of proof under contract law not the vendor’s responsibility? Any person can go sign me up to something, and that is it?

    Mr Hewson I would very much appreciate you assistance. If there is a tribunal that I can go before I will. There has to be a way for me to defend myself against these people without paying a lawyer I would hope.

    to this day, no one can help me, not the MP no one. I am thinking of filling at small claim cost of $5000 and let the judg figure it out. I asked this amanda person twice to send me a total amount to get out of there fake contract so that I can sue them for that, then pay them that, yet the figure has never been sent as they are ignoring me now.I am sop fustrated I kinda put it to the back of my mind, when today Dec 18,2009 my Partner called me to tell me that a rep from Direct Energy was at the door, and this person was made because he was told we were not interested in gas electrical contracts, the rep said “what do you mean your not interested” in a loud voice. The point is not the money as much as the point that If DIrect Energy says 1+2 is 4 then that is what it is. Who else is going to start this. What good are rights when they are not enforced, can anyone take your information and sign you up?

  135. R Arora

    Dec 18 2009

    Hi, I’m terrified after reading everything here!

    I called Direct Energy last month and enrolled in the furnace protection plan with the annual maintenance for our rental property in Ottawa. Today the technician came to do the maintenance and within a few minutes called me from there to let me know that there is a crack in the heat exchanger. Because of that, he has no choice but to shut off the furnace! (it’s -20 here tonight!).

    He said he will leave 2 space heaters for the tenants (I hope that’s not an extra charge, he didnt mention anything to me about charges). Then he said the heat exchanger will be $625+ GST and he will put in the paperwork. Then it’s out of his hands. If they have it, they will send someone to put it in.

    Upon asking 5 times to confirm that there would be NO OTHER charge to do this, apart from the $625 + GST, he said yes, that will be the only charge.

    I googled Direct Energy scams and came upon this page and others and got worried. I asked my tenant to see what crack is he talking about. The tenant said the tech says it can’t be seen by the naked eye but with some scientific instrument.

    When the tenant insisted he saw it, he called back to say the guy showed it to him through an instrument and he thinks he saw it.

    So now I have no choice but to take the technician’s word to change the heat exchanger—but I feel it’s quite strange that the thing they found fault with is the thing that’s not covered by the plan. I’m hoping he’s not scamming us and leaving the poor tenants in this weather without heat!

    It’s sad that to make profits companies have to resort to tactics like lying, threatening, to get customers to agree to pay up money. Performance at companies is measured by the sales a person generates and to feed one’s own need of money one resorts to anything, including fooling the customer.

    Does anyone know if these heat exchanger change requests by Direct Energy are actually real or are they all just a ruse to make money off the unsuspecting and helpless customer!?

  136. Adrian

    Dec 19 2009

    Paul…It sounds like your furnace is producing to much CO in its flue gas. This problem is usually caused by a gas valve malfunction, that is, too much gas pressure on the manifold.

    If I am correct, it can usually be solved with a manometer and a simple adjustment. I would have a quallified serviceman give you a second opinion.

    Also, it’s important to relise that any G2 licenced gas technician can resolve your problem and have your gas reinstated…not just DE. Their red tags are misleading.

  137. Aaron McColl

    Dec 19 2009

    R Arora. I would get a second opinion. We are always in a bind when a gas fitter says there is a problem because they red tag you, and by law they have to if there is a problem like a cracked heat exchanger.

    A cracked heat exchanger results in a poor burn and poses a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Usually, as I understand it, when a heat exchanger goes, it’s usually time to replace the furnace.

    But yes, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, I would not put it past someone to fix something that is not broken. That’s why I would pay the $75 or $100 and call a local company and have them look at it.

    FYI, I put a new high efficiency furnace in my own home myself and it cost me $1.000. Yep, that’s all they are. The rest of the charge from a company is all labour and profit, big profit. You can do this legally in your own home, but not for hire.

    I then paid a gas fitter to come look at my work and put a safety tag on for $50. I have always had Reliance home comfort for water heater and furnace protection and I have used them and they are great by my experience.

    When it is cold out, it is the law that people in your situation are given number one priority, and the person should be able to tell you right away when someone is coming. But we all know that DIRECT ENERGY DOES NOT PLAY BY THE RULES!!

  138. Adrian

    Dec 19 2009

    Paul…I believe your current furnace is a mid-efficiancy power venter. These will not be available on the market in Ontario any longer as of Dec 31st this year.

    Your best option is likely a 92 AFUE high efficiancy as a replacement. Equipment and material costs on a changeout such as yours are around $1,600. Quotes usually range from $2,700 to $4,000 installed. An install of this nature usually takes about 6 hours.

    It’s an unfortunate fact, but most DE technicians have little experience and/or monetary motivation to fix a complex problem. Red tags issued for heat exchangers should be confirmed at the point of issue with an approved testing method, unless there is a true visual abnormality. A smoke test is a tried and true method, and a customer has every right to ask for one.

    If you believe you have been duped by a technician, you can contact the TSSA (Technical Standards and Safety Authority) and report the abuse.

    It is against the law for a gas technician to issue a false red tag. It’s unfortunate that companies like DE use them to force upsales.

  139. Aaron

    Dec 19 2009

    I just bought a name. http://www.fuckyoudirectenergy.com. The site is not up yet, but hopefully by the end of the week I will have something going.

  140. R Arora

    Dec 19 2009

    They’ve changed the heat exchanger today, so thankfully the heat is back on now.

    There was a crack in the HE after all, so maybe in this case it was real…

    Let’s just hope that they will not try to sell me something I don’t need.

  141. Susan Wells

    Dec 20 2009

    Within hours of your email to me that they were looking into my billing issue, I received a phone message from both Direct Energy and Enbridge Gas that it was resolved and the interest reversed. What a phenomenal result to a problem I have been trying to resolve for 4 months! Thanks for your help on this. What a great Xmas gift! A donation is on its way to the Star Christmas Fund in appreciation.
    Susan

  142. Aaron McColl

    Dec 23 2009

    http://www.fuckyoudirectenergy.com is up and running, come check it out.

  143. MV

    Jan 18 2010

    My father is 88 years old and speaks little English.

    He somehow got duped into a gas supply contract with Direct Energy several years ago. He does not remember how or when he got signed up. Regardless, he fulfilled his obligations under the contract and it has since expired.

    During the past several months, he had been receiving correspondence from Direct Energy regarding his upcoming renewal. The printed material they were sending him indicated that if they did not hear from him, they had the “right” to renew his contract for a 1 year period at a rate of 36.9 cents per m3.

    On his behalf (I do have his permission and POA), I contacted Direct Energy by fax (no response), their contact form on their website (no response) AND by regular mail (again, without response), indicating that he did NOT wish to renew his contract.

    I have tried contacting them by phone, but was on hold for ridiculous lengths of time.

    Upon reviewing his latest gas bill, I see that his rate has gone up from 27.9 cents to 36.9 cents. I can only assume that Direct Energy has disregarded my instructions and renewed without consent.

    Is there anything you can do to straighten this mess out?

  144. Dean

    Jan 22 2010

    Ellen, many thanks to you for supporting me and many others on their issues dealing with Direct Energy.

    As many customers have stated in your blog, I only received a written response from Direct Energy after you became involved. And after weeks of requesting written confirmation of the cancelled account, the email was finally sent in less than 24 hours from your contact with DEHS.

    My scenario was simply this: I moved out-of-province back in August 2009. I requested on MANY occasions since then to have the account associated with the hot water tank rental to be cancelled.

    Time and time again, I was assured that the cancellation was processed, only to receive a bill each month with new-new charges. These people simply WILL NOT cancel service. My recent statements then showed me as being in a ‘past due’ status.

    When I asked to have written confirmation (e.g. an email) sent to me to state the account was closed, I was refused!

    Finally, Ellen’s involvement resulted in my first email from Executive Support. While I am not convinced that the account is actually closed (their words are not worth the keyboard they’re typed on), at least I now have something in writing.

    Like many of you have done, I have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the Ontario Energy Board. I am also working with the office of my MP to obtain any federal information around laws pertaining to consumer protection, privacy and ethical business conduct.

    For example, DEHS is the only company I’ve dealt with that asks you (when you tell them you’re moving) if you happen to know the person who is taking over the residence, and if so, have they set up an account with Direct Eergy yet?

    I also have an issue with the door-to-door tactics many of you mentioned – namely, strangers asking to see invoices that are none of their business. To me, that’s a privacy invasion.

    I am also questioning why I had to deal with DE in the first place. I was a tenant in the apartment I rented. Why would I have to be a customer of DE? it was the owner of the building who had an agreement with DE – not me!

    The list of disturbing business practices goes on and on with this company. I am astounded that they are allowed to continue to be in business.

    I had the privilege of working for a major bank as well as a major telecommunications company for over 13 years, and let me tell you, those companies are VERY well regulated by their federal commissions. You can’t sneeze without being noticed by them! If only the OEB were so involved….

  145. Howard W

    Feb 1 2010

    Add us to the list of dissatisfied customers. We had the “protection racket” for years and finally let it lapse over the summer.

    The furnace stopped working today. A call to Direct Energy confirmed we had no “protection.” They said that it would cost $99 for a service technician to call and tell us what was wrong, plus parts and labour.

    Alternatively, we could pay $180 for the service call, which would cover repairs up to $500. In order to take advantage of this bargain, we would have to commit to a year’s worth of “protection racket” at a cost of $20 a month, plus applicable taxes.

    In other words, to cover a repair that may or may not reach the $500 level, it would cost us $420 plus tax.

    To add insult to injury, they could not get here until the next day. We told them to forget it and called a local contractor who installed our gas fireplace. They want $120 for the callout, but it goes towards the cost of whatever repair is necessary and they will be here today.

    Why the government lets these companies get away with this is beyond me — $420 for $500 worth of insurance? I thought cheque cashing services and loan sharks were bad, but Direct Energy takes the cake!

  146. Larry

    Feb 3 2010

    Hi Ellen. Too late for this one.

    My mother, who is pushing 90, called about the $13.99 insurance plan and two guys showed up in half an hour with a truck with no name.

    Result: $99 to determine the air conditioner coil needs cleaning. They are coming to clean the coil for $288.

    There is nothing I can do, as my mother thinks they are great guys. Hopefully, I can delay leaving for work untill they come and I will document their time and what they did.

    On another note, I should apply for a job with DE — $99 for 15 minutes!

    Naw, I could not rip off anyone.

    It is 20 below. I suppose it is good to clean your air conditioner in the winter in case we get 30C temps in February.

  147. Buckwheat

    Mar 2 2010

    Larry, if you think for one minute I get paid $99 an hour, let alone 15 minutes, you’re out of your mind. It costs Direct Energy approx $225 to send out a truck, CSR wages, my wages, my benefits, insurance, gas, etc. for every single call I go to in a day.

    Many people will blame an HVAC service tech for their own laziness, such as neglecting regular maintenance like cleaning or changing a filter that would have prevented your Mom’s A/C coil from restricting air flow.

    If you truly were concerned about your Mom’s well being and safety, you’d read the little fillers in the gas bill. Apply some common sense and take precautions to avoid unnecessary charges.

    In other words, read the instructions and follow them. I can’t handhold everyone. You’re a grown man, so take some responsibity for your own actions (or lack thereof).

  148. Jack

    Mar 5 2010

    Well, I can only say that I have been a DE customer for years and have had nothing but courteous service.

    I found them to be honest and recommend what they feel I need. Wouldn’t go anywhere else.

  149. Joe

    Mar 6 2010

    I am a HVAC teck working for direct energy and I can tell you that if I or any other teck in my area falsely shut down
    a furnace the company would deal very strongly with us.

    Also the tssa would be involved. They could remove a trade licence if they think that that person is using the strength of this government issued licence to rip our customers off.

    As for the sour grapes from former DE teck, dream on. Imagine $600 per week incentive pay, wow.

    We. like any other employee of a large company, do receive incentive pay for total job performance, more along the lines of $2,000 per year.

  150. Moe

    Mar 7 2010

    We used to have a HIP plan with Direct Energy. We got a new furnace and tried to cancel the HIP plan. We were informed we would get a credit from DE since no inspection had been done, nor had there been a claim during the period. And all within two months. What an experience!

    We cancelled last Oct, 2009 and finally received our refund this month, almost 5 months later. We stumbled upon this site after numerous and unsuccessful attempts to get a response from DE about the credit. After reading others’ experiences, I should consider myself lucky. We finally received a credit some 5 months later.

    Particularly annoying throughout this process was the fact that it was impossible to reach anyone with authority in the company. Not one of their people would pass my complaint to their supervisor. They would even try to pass the buck onto Enbridge for the delay. As well, during this period I was charged interest for being 2 days late on a payment yet they can take 5 months to pay (the first time a payment of mine was ever late!).

    At least I am glad that I chose another contractor for my new furnace – one that understands the value of customer service and earns its business rather than relying on a captive audience.

  151. Mike

    Mar 8 2010

    March 8/2010
    Presently I am a serviceman with DE and am in my 30th year, going back to the Consumers Gas days. Personally I feel insulted that people think I would compromise my integrity for a couple of bucks. My livelihood is based on my skills, and my ability to provide customers with the best advice for their specific situation. I am licenced by Ontario government and follow the guidelines outlined in the Gas Code. With that said I am not perfect ( still trying but not there yet ). I beleive my peers feel the same way I do.

    Doing one job at atime to the best of my ability.

    Mike

  152. John Montrose

    Mar 11 2010

    You can reach the “Office of the President” Direct – 1-866-756-3929.
    Don’t even think of calling the numbers they provide unless you want your call dumped after waiting for 20-30 minutes on hold.

  153. Richard Hammond

    Mar 11 2010

    $30,000 annually is completely false, period. That said, we technicians do receive financial perks for generating work, but also for maintaining customer satisfaction, it is on average $2,000 annually. Misinforming customers is neither a short term nor long term benefit to either the worker or the company.

    Misleading a customer into believing their equipment is unsafe and falsely issuing a legal document such as a “Red Tag” can lead to legal action taken by T.S.S.A. as well as losing one’s job at Direct Energy. As you can imagine, these repercussions will keep honesty a priority and far outweigh any meager financial gains that may be offered by the company.

    As for getting a second opinion, that is always good advice. An informed consumer will almost always make a better purchase.

  154. Allison Wright

    Mar 30 2010

    We recently had a new furnace installed by Direct Energy and the contractor showed us the air ducts. Not too surprising, as the previous owner had six cats, but it was disgusting.

    The contractor recommended Direct Energy as the only reputable company that could get the job done. I called that day and was greeted by a very enthusiastic young man who told me I couldn’t go wrong with their product as it was incomparable to others on the market.

    Also, I was just in time to receive a special offer of a rebate of $72, which ended that day. How lucky I was.

    They set up an appointment for the following week and said they would be here between 9 a.m. to 1 pm. He did show up on the day at 10:30. Then the excuses started.

    I was told there was nowhere to park. Well, there is the street or the driveway. Either one offers a window they could use. Then, his hoses weren’t long enough and oh yes, he needed a helper to hold the hose at one end while he worked the other.

    Now I don’t have an unusual house. It is a standard three story red brick house. I imagine they encounter this type of house regularly.

    I was told they would reschedule. I did. Then, I get a call to reschedule and I said I already have. They tell me that there is no helper on that day so I would encounter the same problem yet again. So we set a different date.

    I have a tenant that works from home. Thankfully, he is good humored and saw the absurdity of this situation.

    On the third try, they didn’t bother to show up and said their hoses were not long enough and the truck had broken down. I called the supervisor and was assured this was totally unacceptable and would be remedied immediately.

    They called back and booked yet another appointment for April 9th. The first booking was March 1st.

    Fed up, I found this website and realized I was never going to get any sort of service and the end result would be unsatisfactory.

    I found Advanced Air Care. They called back that day and set up an appointment for the following week. They said they would be here at 8 am. I was quoted an approximate price, as I was unsure of the total amount of vents.

    The estimate was more than Direct Energy’s, but by that time I didn’t care. They arrived at 8 am. They were cheerful. They answered all of my questions. They told me exactly what they were going to do. Then they started. No excuses, just hard working.

    When they were almost finished, I went to the basement to have a look. There was quite a bit of debris on the floor, which I expected. What I didn’t expect was when they were finished, they asked me to come and look since they had cleaned it all up.

    When the final bill was totaled, it came to slightly less than the Direct Energy quote (which had the rebate of $72). No discounts here. They just charge a fair price up front.

    If you need your ducts cleaned, I would suggest calling Advanced Air Care, which has a good website as well. They are the ones to get if you have an older home, as I do. I couldn’t have been happier.

  155. Gary Charlton

    Apr 6 2010

    Direct Energy are impossible to deal with. My Aunt died, the house sold, numerous calls to them did not resolve anything — she’s still getting charged. I have no idea how they think they’ll collect.

    OH yeah – the new owners are not being charged yet. However, they did have a new gas service installed that they are paying for.

    You’d think that with this information Enbridge would be quick to fix this?? Well – we’ll see – it’s only 5 months after the house was sold…

  156. ed gadbois

    Apr 13 2010

    I have said for a long time that a full inquiry is needed into DIRECT ENERGY and their business practises. Most people do not know that this company was booted out of the UK and many states in the US for their practises. And then we let them into Canada. Look at all of the services that now have the “direct” this and that provider. Direct Energy needs to be investigated and I suggest given the boot from Canada.

  157. Bradley

    Apr 26 2010

    I took a call from Direct Energy on the phone and somehow resigned myself to be locked in for 60 of the longest months.

    On my hydro, I found out, after going on regular rate from my utility, that Direct Energy was charging me double the regular rate, a fraudulent service for which it should be held accountable for ripping off people.

  158. Irvin Kovar

    May 8 2010

    Hi Ellen – here is my issue:

    In April 2009, water heaters started failing in my neighborhood. When my neighbour’s water heater burst, I called a Direct Energy technician to have my 15+ year old heater assessed and replaced. It was a known fact that most water heaters in my neighborhood were failing around the 15 – 20 year age mark (the age range of the houses).

    I was told the water heater was fine.

    Fast forward to April 2010. My water heater burst and flooded my basement. I was charged $150 to replace a plastic pipe that was apparently not to “code”.

    My insurance company says that you (Direct Energy) are negligent in the maintenance and replacement of water heaters and they are suing you for what appears to me to be a lack of maintenance process and a blatant lack of integrity. The flooded basement is a HUGE hassle. I notified you in advance and you did nothing.

    Direct Energy: you are UNETHICAL, OPPORTUNISTIC, LAZY and should go out of business for punishing your loyal client base. I hope someone starts a class-action suit against you, so you realize you cannot hide behind the power of your self-serving corporate arrogance and play the “system” to your financial benefit.

    You cost clients money and frustrate them to no end, you inflate the costs of insurance companies and give yourself a bad name in the process.

    You should be horrified by this treatment of customers, but instead you seem complacent.

    I hope you go bankrupt very quickly and your Senior Executives work as Wal-Mart greeters for a few years to learn a bit about personal integrity in business.

    This process cost us a few days in salary, a $500 insurance deductible, a $150 service charge. Add it up. This could have been prevented.

  159. sdas

    Jun 7 2010

    I too have just found out about the ridiculous renewal rates we have been paying at almost 50cents for the last 4 years.

    Has anyone had any success getting the difference paid back? currently only get the run around from call centrs from India

  160. P Day

    Jun 8 2010

    Unfortunately, when we purchased our home in September 2008, we were not advised that we would be responsible for a gas furnace rental agreement and would have pushed back on this if had known.

    Upon moving in, we contacted Direct Energy to discuss what the buy-out would be on the furnace. Much to our surprise, to purchase the NINE year old furnace was going to cost MORE than the cost of purchasing a brand NEW similar make and model furnace!

    I tried to discuss the scenario with the Rep assigned to my call, but she was not willing to address our concerns with anyone above her at D.E. I explained that I could easily fax a copy of the invoice for the similar model of furnace to compare the rates. I did not succeed in getting through to her or talking to anyone with more decision making power. As you can well imagine, this was rather frustrating.

    I contacted the rental department again last fall to inquire what the buy-out would be for January 2010 and it was still a remarkable amount, considering the amount of money DE has collected for this furnace.

    In December, we had some loud noises coming from the furnace, which was brought to the attention of the service person who was completing the required service appointment, but of course the noise did not happen when she was here. Nor did it happen for the next service person to come. We never did find the issue with the furnace.

    In February, I contacted DE via e-mail and outlined this chain of events and attached a video of the sound resonating from the furnace. I asked for someone, preferably in management, to review the file and determine a reasonable buy-out for a furnace that we now have replaced.

    I re-sent the e-mail in April as I never heard back from anyone. After sending it a THIRD time today, we FINALLY heard back — just one line that provided the buy-out amount of $1,039. It did not even apologize for not returning the e-mails from 2 and 4 months ago.

    I find this appalling customer service and even more appalling is the amount of the buy-out for a 10 year old furnace that they have collected over $5,000 for!

    I will never deal with Direct Energy again for as long as I live.

  161. Robert

    Jun 15 2010

    I can’t assist in all cases where consumers are encountering problems with Direct Energy, but if you entered into a natural gas supply contract with Direct Energy / Enbridge Home Services around 2002, and your contract was renewed without your consent, I’ve set up a free website (directenergyrefunds.blogspot.com) showing you how you can potentially claim a very large refund from Direct Energy, as I’ve done.

  162. Oscar

    Jun 18 2010

    Direct Energy must have one of the worst customer services in the country.

    We recently had our gas services discontinued. This was done not because we weren’t making our payments, but because were doing it to the wrong Direct Energy account.

    Direct Energy changes our account from direct energy to Direct Energy Regulator. Unfortunately, they forgot to inform us about it, so we just kept on making payments onto our Direct Energy Account. Confused????? So are we………..

    No phone calls were made, no letters were sent. All we got was a disconnection order at our door.

    We try calling to get this sorted out. But after dealing with their customer service and even one of the managers, we have decided to switch to Enmax.

  163. Lindsay Mcwhinnie

    Jul 20 2010

    Direct Energy is a bunch of scammers. First, someone moved my gas charges to them with a fraudulent signature. Second, I supposedly verbally agreed to a heating protection plan. All of it wrong.

    Take out your water heater. It’s only 500 bucks to buy one outright.

  164. Les

    Jul 23 2010

    Well I am certainly caught in the scam. Big Time.

    - Signed up 2004 for 5 year plan at prior address
    - Sole title ownership of home
    - Moved to new address in 2008
    - Joint ownership of home
    - Utility automatically moved the plan to new address with new account number
    - Called Direct Energy and they said my contract expires in March 2011
    - I told them that I do not have any contract with them since I moved to new address and the original contract had expired
    - They said that the contract continued in 2008 when I moved
    - They said that the contract was automatically renewed because they sent me a renewal notice and did not get a reply
    - I have no recollection of ever receiving any renewal notice
    - They again said that they sent it and with no reply, they are allowed to automatically renew
    - They then tried to over me another 5 year plan (unbelievable!!!)
    - I said I was not interested and that they need to cancel any perceived contract
    - They said there would be a cancellation fee, but they would have to mail it to me as they do not have it.
    - It has been a week and haven’t received the cancellation fee by mail
    - Well I called today and asked
    - $3232.34!!!!!!!!
    - Looks like I have to go to court
    - Anyone with any other ideas on how to get out of that?

    Thank You

  165. been busted

    Jul 28 2010

    I can’t believe there are people out there still signing up with DE.

    DE doesn’t save you anything significant….it’s all a prank that people unfortunately fall for.

  166. Melissa

    Aug 3 2010

    I called Direct Energy this morning to discuss my hot water tank rental and spoke to Andrew. Rude and condescending sums it up in 2 words, if you’re short on time.

    First, I asked if my tank was an older unit, as I was having some issues. I was informed in a curt voice that my tank was “only” 7 years old.

    I asked how old a tank has to be before replacement. Andrew said 16 years. And “anyone who told you they start to go downhill after 10 years is lying and doesn’t know what they’re talking about.” Um, ok.

    Next, I said my hot water tank runs out of hot water after 2 showers, and I have to run the tap for about 3 minutes until the water is warm enough for showering. He suggested a service call.

    I asked about a service call after work. Andrew stated that there were no weekday evening appointments available. He said that my situation was “low priority” to Direct Energy, and as such, he was unable to fill my request. Um, fine.

    (FYI – I never did get an appointment, as he’s booked for the whole month. I said I’d talk to some family and see if I could get someone to come to my house in the daytime. Way to make me feel like a valued customer.)

    Next I asked Andrew about the buyout option for my tank. Actually, I asked twice, because the first time he danced around the question and wouldn’t tell me the price. He generally discouraged this. No doubt. They’d be losing money big time, if my tank is really expected to hold out for 16 years.

    Direct Energy, I’m not impressed. Andrew, I bet you’re making your quota every month, and are on the honour roll.

    Way to go. You managed to save your company money and in turn justify your job. In the end, isn’t that all you care about?

  167. Mike

    Aug 6 2010

    I can’t believe the amount of frustration I have been through dealing with Direct Energy.

    It all started 2 months ago when I received my monthly gas bill in the mail from Enbridge. I opened it and was shocked to find that our bill which was usually around $50, was nearly $7,500 that month.

    When I called Enbridge, they said the issue was with the water heater charges. I then spoke to someone else, who said that she was unable to locate the problem and needed to put it through to another department.

    She asked if I could fax her a copyof my bill, which I found very strange since they had sent it to me. I was told that when the problem was resolved, I would be contacted.

    When I expressed concern that I was being passed off and may not hear back, she gave me her name and phone number and said I could contact her directly.

    After two weeks had gone by, I tried calling her. I was told that she was not in the office that day. I asked If I could talk to someone else and was informed that it was better for me to deal with one person at a time.

    When I called again the next day, I was told again that she was not in the office. I expressed my frustration at the lack of customer service. The lady I was talking to apolgized and gave me her word that I’d receive a call back.

    Now another two weeks later, I called again this morning and was told that she was on the phone and would call me back. Now it’s seven and a half hours later and I am still waiting for a call back.

    My girlfriend and I live in a rental apartment. I have not signed any agreements with Direct Energy. I did not even realize that I was dealing with two separate companies until last week, when I called Enbridge to make sure I wouldn’t be charged late payment fees while this was being resolved.

    I work full time and have a hectic schedule. On average, I have spent around 20 minutes on hold every time I’ve called Direct Energy and received no satisfaction.

    I don’t understand how a business can be run like this, or how customers can be treated so poorly.

  168. Haya

    Aug 7 2010

    I am so fed up with this scam. I was told that if I move there will be no cancellation fee.
    I moved and now they have this stupid collection agency CGC who is bothering me all the time I don’t know how to get out of this tunnel.

  169. BB

    Aug 19 2010

    Reading all these stories about Direct Energy is putting a knot in my stomach!

    It is Thursday, Aug. 19 and I have been without hot water since Monday.

    I called DE for service on their rental tank Monday, again Tuesday, again Wednesday and I’m about to call for the 4th time.

    They keep telling me someone will contact me to set a service date. NO CALL YET !!!

    OMG..my phone just rang and it was someone trying to sell me a service plan for my furnace…BAD timing! I have NO hot water and I’m furious.

  170. Ziad

    Aug 25 2010

    Hi Ellen
    I have just received a welcome kit from Direct Energy to a five years commitment !!!
    I was never approached by this company to sign a five year commitment, and even if they approached me I would never commit to them, as I had a previous bad experience with them.
    I am going to call them to deny the commitment and I know a head of time that they are going to waste a lot of my valid time.
    Is this something normal that they sign their customers to a five year contract without asking them and did anyone else receive this welcome kit without his approval??
    Thanks
    Ziad

  171. JB

    Aug 31 2010

    I signed up for a hot water tank 10-12 years ago when our condo cooperation was told we could get gaz in the coorporation if 80% signed up for a hot water tank rental. I never had problems with Direct Energy before when the tank malfunctioned and a technician had to be sent in to repair it.

    A week ago, my carbon monoxide alarm went off. I panicked and called Direct Energy. They transferred my call to another company who sent an inspector. My hot water tank was red tagged and the gas was turned off. I called back Direct Energy and they told me they could send someone within 24 hours to replace the tank but they would need to charge me for a new venting system. I asked how much and I could have sworn the guy told me on average it was about $60-70. When the technician came to install it, he double checked that I realized the first 10ft would be $175. He told me that if I did not agree, he could not install a new tank on the old venting system. The visit cost me $480 and I’m renting this tank. I was furious. I called Direct Energy to complain, asked to speak to a manager and was told my complaint would be excalated and I would get a call back within 24 hours. They never called back. I have not seen the billed but I’m almost afraid to see more suprise charges.

    I did not photocopy the red tag form and the technician left with it. I don’t know all the values but I am positive the carbon monoxide in the hot water tank room was 18ppm. 18ppm is very low. I did not know that then. My new carbon monoxide monitor does not detect carbon monoxide under 70ppm. That’s why I believe I had a bad carbon monoxide detector. I’m afraid I have become one of Direct Energy’s many victims. I was not aware of their very bad reputation. What a shock. I want to fight back but I don’t where to start.

    Any suggestion would be appreciated. I wished I had called 911 instead of Direct Energy. The fire department is more trust worthy.

  172. Rajesh R

    Sep 14 2010

    I had a tough time cancelling my contract. It took almost 6 months to cancel.

    I am planning to launch a class action against Direct Energy for their cancellation practice and cancellation fee.

    They charge cancellation fee and contract price (double dipping) for the 2 months when they are waiting for utility companies to cancel the contract.

    I paid cancellation fee effective Nov. 2009 and my account was not cancelled until Jan. 15, 2010. From Nov 2009 to Jan 2010, I paid 7 cents/cm3 cancellation fee plus the regular contract price of 43.7c/cm3 for that period.

    I believe this is unfair to charge both for that period. They should either reimburse me the cancellation fee for that period or charge gas at Enbridge’s rate.

    If you have cancelled your contract with Direct Energy, you might be eligible to participate in a class action. Respond to this post if you are interested in class action.

  173. Suit Direct Energy

    Sep 28 2010

    How to sue Direct Energy?

    I rented and moved into a house in September, 2010. I called Direct energy asking for the gas rate and they set up an account for me without my permission (I realized this after receiving the bill).

    They transferred the balance from the previous tenants to my account!

    They now asking me for a $200 safety deposit or setting up bank prepayments.

    How can I trust them after wasting so much of my time?

    How to sue Direct Energy??

  174. KD

    Sep 29 2010

    I had DE in for routine furnance maintenace yesterday. It was free – part of my service plan on the furnace.

    The inside was quite dirty, and at least three times during the visit, the technician suggested that we have our ducts cleaned. He even asked how long it was since they were cleaned last.

    Within three minutes of his leaving the house (and I’m not exaggerating when I say that), we had a telemarketing call from a duct cleaning service.

    Now, I’m on the federal do-not-call registry, and find that it’s generally effective. In fact, since signing up, the only illegal telemarketing calls I get are from door and window installers.

    Even before the registry, I don’t think I ever had a call about duct cleaning. I would be very surprised to learn that the technician did not call this company to give my number as a prospective customer.

  175. Raimundo da Silva

    Sep 29 2010

    Direct Energy keeps charging me every month through Embridge even though I don’t have their services. it takes countless hours every month, and the problem never goes away.

  176. Tina

    Oct 1 2010

    After moving into our home in Aug 2009, we did not receive an Enbridge bill for several months. Once we finally did, everything was fine, except for our water heater rental from Direct Energy.

    We were billed $129.51 to bring our account up to date — which was correct –but there was a subsequent charge of $129.51 listed as “DESC_NA”.

    When I called to inquire, it was identified as an error and I was told that it would be corrected. That was in Feb 2010.

    Since that time, I have been in contact with DE at least 10 times via phone and email.
    Over the past few months, the monthly water heater charge has been doubled, tripled and even quadrupled.

    I have received nothing but unreturned calls and empty promises to address and correct the issue.

    How can a corporation be allowed to continue to operate in this manner??

  177. KD

    Oct 5 2010

    I just want to clarify my earlier post from 09/29. I don’t think that the telemarketing call was from DE. In fact, the offer that we got was priced at about one-third of what DE charges for the same service. My belief is not that this was a DE marketing tactic, but that a rogue DE employee gave my contact information to a third party in exchange for a share of the sale.

    I will add that I have heard both from Ellen and from DE after my original post here, and DE is going to investigate.

  178. Tami

    Oct 8 2010

    I accidentally overpaid my closed account at Direct Energy on July 22/2010. When I realized what I had done, I contacted DE Customer Service and was told that a cheque for that amount would be mailed out in 6-8 weeks.

    It was 10 weeks later, still no cheque, so I again called DE. With some checking, the employee said she would investigate what could have happened to the cheque that was supposedly dispatched.

    If she could not find out, then I was to watch in the mail for a form that I was to send in to say that I had not gotten the reimbursement and mail it back. When they received it, they would dispatch another cheque.

    As of Oct. 7, I have seen neither a cheque nor a form and have not received any further correspondence.

    I am going to call again today.

    Who wants to bet that I will never see my $96 overpayment in this lifetime?

  179. Nathan

    Oct 8 2010

    Hi Ellen, I always find your articles very fact full and interesting. I see you have taken an interest in door to door sales people selling energy, offset, tanks etc.

    You are right, some will say anything it seems to get in the door and all your other facts slamming the competion to Direct Energy and you are correct it’s a horrible problem people need to be made aware of.

    Much like any business, when you have a huge amount of customers, some will have good feedback, others will hate the product.

    I am more interested to know what you would find if you sniff around Direct Energy customers. I think you will find the answer to some of your questions.

    The fact is that Direct Energy has a monopoly over the market. Some people have had such a bad experience with Direct Energy that a new face is a light at the end of the tunnel and that’s why they greet them with open arms.

    The only reason Direct Energy doesn’t go door to door is because they already have the business. I bet if you cut Direct Energy’s client base in half, their sales people would do any old trick in the book to get a sale.

    How do you think they got so big? They have between 75 and 90 percent of the market already on a contract.

    Personally, after the nonsense I went through with Direct Energy, I will never go back.

    Anyway, your articles are great and I look forward to more. However, some might question if you are on the Direct Energy payroll with all your recent articles bashing these new hot water companies, much like a lot of people out there. We wouldn’t want that.

  180. Nick

    Oct 28 2010

    I’m going through my own personal Direct Energy hell now.

    On Sunday, my water wasn’t hot, but still warm. I already had plans for the day and was on my way out, but I checked the water heater and saw a flashing red light (meaning error code) and water all over the top of the tank.

    I cleaned up the water and didn’t see a leak. I tried to restart the water according to the manual and it wouldn’t. I had to leave, but I called DE and they sent someone over in a rather timely way.

    On Monday, the technician said the water was from condensate in the exhaust blower. That was a lot of water for condensate, but whatever.

    Of course, they didn’t have the part, so spent a day without hot water. The tech ordered the part right there over the phone and set up an appointment for the next day.

    On Tuesday, I got a call verifying the parts and time the tech would be there. This time, a different tech came in and replaced the part that arrived. He did it quickly.

    The heater sounded better, but he said he just needed to clean out one area first. He apparently broke the gas valve, as it was no longer blinking red but was solid red. (The manual says it must be replaced if it does this.)

    Of course, they didn’t have that part either and had to order it.

    On Wednesday, I got no call from Direct Energy. Being a busy day, I let it slip from my mind and didn’t call them until I got home.

    When I’m home, I see no package at my door or notice of delivery. Calling DE on the phone is just mass confusion.

    Each person (3 in total) I talked to said my appointment was at different times and there was no information on the missing part at all.

    I’m told I’ll get called back by their parts department several times, but never get a call. Eventually, the tech called to tell me my appointment time, but he wasn’t coming if there was no part. He didn’t care that I had no hot water that week.

    It’s Thursday. First thing this morning, I call DE to confirm an appointment and to see if the part was shipped. The woman on the phone says there’s no appointment and again no information on the part. I’m told I’ll be called by their parts department … again.

    At this point, I have no confidence they’ll show up or the part will show up. This is their water heater, so if they don’t have the part tonight they can rip the whole thing out. The next call will be the ultimatum.

  181. steve

    Nov 12 2010

    Direct energy or Just energy or whatever are trying to scam me $400 for ending a contract. I simply asked the collections agency for a copy of the contract. They sent me a copy from 2004 that doesn’t even have my signature, it is now 2010, 6 years past the 5 year penalty for early cancellation.
    They simply said it is an automatic renewal and I am still on the hook but they would be real nice and drop it to 65% of the original fee, probably to break even from the collection agency charges.
    This is fraud I am not giving these crooks a dime with out a fight, we’ll see if I end up in small claims court with the fu^k’s.

  182. Anne

    Nov 26 2010

    Hi! I work for direct energy and I have to say, this is the worst job I have ever had.

    I took this job because, besides needing one, I like helping people. I have never worked for a utility company before, so I was excited about the new experience. That was only two months ago.

    The training was horrible. The main thing we were taught was to transfer as many calls as possible. People call in with real concerns that we cannot answer and if we give too much information, we are “docked” on our call scores.

    Most of these stories I hear everyday on the phone, service request that are never entered, lights cut off and not turned back on after the bill is paid because someone was not trained to do such a thing.

    Please understand, they do not treat their employees any better. We are not allowed to go to the bathroom without being “docked.”

    People steal from you and when you need help you have to call a number and those people are always irritated that you called them and usually unwilling to help you, most of the time acting as though they are too good to help you.

    If anyone understands the frustrations of these comments, I do and honestly wish I had an answer for you. My answer is only to look for another company..that’s what I am doing.

  183. john valvasori

    Nov 30 2010

    direct energy some one should go to jail , how can you run a busness like you do , i used 62.34 for gas, and have to pay 236.88, just may be elec may be cheaper than gas when all things considered.direct energy promises , but delivers nothing. one very angery customer.

  184. Sean

    Dec 8 2010

    Hi Ellen, I”m so delighted to read your blog. I’m also going through a very bad experience with Direct Energy.

    We have been renting the water-heater from them since 2001 when we bought the house. On Aug. 7, 2010, someone from National Home Services knocked on our door and convinced us that their water-heater was better than Direct Energy’s.

    So, we signed the deal and also authorized National Home Services to return DE’s water heater.

    However, Direct Energy kept billing us water heater rental fees of $23 per month for the past three months.

    We called Direct Energy several times. They were aware we had terminated the rental contract on Aug. 9 and said we should see our refunds within 2 billing cycles after terminating the rental. They even provided us a confirmation # for each of our phone conversations.

    In November’s and December’s bills, there was no correction at all. We have no faith in DE.

    Having seen all complaints against this despicable company, we feel even more disgusted. What should we do?

    I know if we call them again, they would tell us the same old stuff that we should see it in our next bill. How could this company get away with this?

  185. Sean

    Dec 10 2010

    Update on my last blog post:

    Dear Ellen, we would like to express our great gratitude for your contacting Direct Energy to resolve the outstanding issue.

    We got a call from their President’s Office within 24 hr after you contacted them. They apologized for the inconvenience due to poor paperwork, and promised to refund the overcharges to our account.

    I know without your intervention, we would have been hitting another dead-end, and very likely be constantly harassed in the future by collection agents and have our credit records ruined.

    Thank you very much again.

  186. RED TAG?

    Dec 18 2010

    If your furnace ever A tagged (Red tagged) by DE, you can always seek 2nd opinion from other licensed heating company. If they come out and nothing wrong with your furnace, they can remove the tag and have it running again.

  187. Rick

    Jan 12 2011

    Beware the deferred monthly payment!

    In November 2009, I went for the Direct Energy – Home Services (DE-HS) furnace cleaning ($109) and duct cleaning ($446.09) package. I went on the no interest and billed monthly plan. So far so good. Pay monthly for a service, no interest.

    Seems that DE-HS billing is done by Enbridge (uh-oh). This is important when there is a billing query or problem as the DE-HS service rep can’t explain all the charges/credits.

    Also interesting is that the bill you get doesn’t match what the service rep sees on their screen when they’re talking to you. Oh, and like most call centres, they really just want to get you off the phone.

    It also appears that Enbridge doesn’t always bill you for services on a regular basis as my “12 equal payments” were not on my April, July or December bills.

    In December 2010, I received a bunch of credits – no explanation – on both my Direct Energy home services and Enbridge gas. As it turns out, I was triple billed for my rental water heaters and then credited twice, so the amount worked out to the normal charge. (Strange. Can you say questionable revenue numbers?)

    As the monthly payments for duct cleaning were supposed to be for a year, I called DE-HS to find out when my duct cleaning payment would end and why the charges were inconsistent.

    After some analysis, it was determined that Enbridge had a billing problem and I was told to call them to figure out why there were credits and why I wasn’t billed for the duct cleaning.

    I explained that as a DE-HS customer, who DE-HS subcontracts the billing to was not my concern. They needed to join me on a call with their billing arm (not send me away) until I was satisfied with the explanation.

    The nice lady at DE-HS (Judy) agreed and contacted Enbridge with me on the line. After further analysis, all of the charges and credits were rationalized (not explained), but not really to my satisfaction.

    It is still a mystery why I was credited for services, triple billed and then credited for my rental water heaters. There was no explanation why my home service billing wasn’t consistent.

    Lesson learned for me:

    1) Do not buy any services from Direct Energy until they are accountable for their own billing.

    2) If you do sign up for Direct Energy home services, pay for the service in full on completion. The perceived savings of monthly deferral is not worth the aggravation of keeping track of how/when you are billed.

    3) Your 12 equal payments may not be (and in this case were not) 12 months in a row.

    4) Based on all of the comments on this site, a public enquiry into Direct Energy’s and Enbridge’s service, billing, accounting practices and revenue statements is in order.

  188. Rick

    Jan 14 2011

    Update to my post January 12, 2011. Successful conclusion from Enbridge/Direct Energy!

    I had immediate response from both companies.

    They addressed the issue and went beyond my expectation by providing unexpected compensation for my trouble.

  189. Bill in BC

    Jan 27 2011

    Hi, I’m in BC, and I foolishly signed with Direct Energy here. I had thought it would cost $100 to get out of my gas contract with them if gas prices went down, and that would be it. It turned out that I can not get out of the contract, except on my “anniversary” date.
    Foolishly, I did not read my contract very carefully.
    They are an unscrupulous bunch. Be VERY careful in your dealings with them.

  190. Brady

    Feb 1 2011

    Hi, Direct Energy put in a new hot water tank on Dec. 13th, 2010. One week later, our basement was flooded due to a slowly leaking pipe that was disturbed during installation.

    Direct Energy fixed the problem and promised a call from their claims department. We have called weekly, but still no call back and it is Feb. 1, 2011.

    Our basement carpet smells and mold must be setting in. We are optimistic but very disappointed at this point.

    Let’s hope they will honour their work and fix the problem THEY caused.

  191. Josh

    Feb 4 2011

    Here’s the best one yet – Pat Foran from CTV recently featured energy audits as a potential ‘must have’ for qualifying for energy rebates and to do it soon, before the government rebate finishes. He featured a lovely lady with the name of Minoo Chand as homeowner who just ‘happened’ to call in Direct Energy as an energy auditor to test her house efficiency. Pat – Do your homework. Minoo Chand is not ‘just another homeowner’ and she didn’t just fall into Direct Energy’s assistance by happenstance. A closer look at her name in google discloses the truth. She’s a Quality Assurance EMPLOYEE of Direct Energy. Talk about a scam, or at very least, a ruse. Shame on Direct Energy, and shame on Pat Foran. What, can’t Direct Energy find one ‘real’ customer to be interviewed??? I bet they could…but they would likely be an unsatisfied one.

  192. constance mccarthy

    Feb 9 2011

    My husband and I have recently purchased a furnace and humidifier from Direct Energy. The humidifier is defective and we have had it already looked at once. Someone has to come out tomorrow again because water is leaking from it.

    We were told that there will be a service charge, which should not be, for it is a new furnace and is under warranty. I’m looking for anyone’s help or advice on what we can do if this happens.

  193. nick

    Feb 15 2011

    I just went to Direct Energy’s website and typed “Cancel contract” and “cancel” and “cancellation” into the search box for the entire website.

    Guess what? – NOTHING CAME UP!! Too funny, too bad.

    I am also enjoying the “anonymous” emails telling everyone how good DE’s customer service really is!!

    I am going to cancel my agreement now (somehow). Wish me luck !

  194. Katherine

    Feb 18 2011

    We too are having problems with DE. We purchased a house in June of this year.

    While the original owners were still in the house, the water heater broke down. So they had one installed by another company and paid for it in full, as our purchase agreement stated the water heater was owned, not rented.

    On our Enbridge bill, we see a charge for 24 bucks every month for a rental heater! I contact them and they tell me I need to get a removal number from the company that installed the new water heater.

    So I contact the company. They have NO removal number and were under the assumption that the heater was owned, not rented.

    So I talk to DE again, and she tells me she’s sorry we have to go through all of this, seeing as we just moved here and blah blah.

    She tells me to go after the company that installed the heater or the former owners for refund. HELLO? How is this our responsibility?

    We were not even IN the house when the old heater broke down and the new one was installed. It was still in the possession of the previous owners.

    Suddenly WE are the ones who have to chase down a refund, from another company to boot? What a screw up. No accountability.

    One would think the invoice and billing date would be proof enough that their precious broken down rental is not in this house, and not of our concern, yet we are still paying for something that may very well not even exist any more!

    Years back, they would not even install a new water heater in our old home without wanting to put in a new furnace, citing new laws and codes. So the DE worker directed us to someone who we could talk to. And that guy (being a former co-worker of said DE worker) told us the same thing.

    You can bet we found a reliable small business to install our water heater WITHOUT needing to install a new furnace, and probably for a fraction of the cost.

    I wish the company would simply go under.

  195. James

    Mar 1 2011

    So, I signed up for the “Total Home Protection Plan” with DE in June 2008. I did this because I was having a lot of issues with my plumbing in my house, and this plan seemed perfect for me.

    What I did not realise was for 2 and 1/2 years, they were still charging me $41.98/month for the heating and cooling protection plans. These are both covered under the Total Home Protection Plan.

    I contacted their billing department, and after about a week of speaking with 2 separate people (one named Jonathan), it was determined I was owed $1,259.40, plus tax, plus an additional $125.94 for my time and trouble.

    When I asked for a cheque, they told me they can only give me a credit to my account through Enbridge. While that seemed odd, I spoke with Enbridge, and they said I can get a refund cheque for any credits on my account. All seemed good.

    A month later and my Enbridge bill arrived. Not only was the additional $125.94 I was promised missing, but I was still being charged $41.98 for the 2 plans which were supposed to be removed from my account.

    I called DE and asked what was going on. I was told that the rep would look into it and call me the next day. A week passed and no one from DE called me.

    I called again and spoke with Frank from their Executive Customer Relations Office. He told me he would look into it.

    At this point, I said I wanted the $41.98 removed (and credited for the last month) and I’d like the total amount I was told on my first call, plus an additional $260 service charge refunded for my time, and I would like this as a cheque. Frank told me he’d speak to his team and call me back.

    About 20 minutes later, he called me back, and left a message, telling me the $41.98 was removed and that was all he can do.

    I called back, waited for 10 minutes or so, was finally transferred to a different office than Frank worked in. I was told that they would leave a message, and he would call me back. That hasn’t happened.

    This is totally unacceptable customer service. I cannot believe a company would treat their customers this poorly.

  196. elsie

    Mar 19 2011

    This is information for Brady ( posted February 1, 2011). Brady had his basement flooded following an installation of a hot water tank and humidifier.
    I had a similar experience.After reading this website I see that my experience with Direct Energy was par for the course.
    My hot water tank was replaced on Christmas Eve, 2008. After mopping up I returned Christmas evening to find more water. It took me another day of valiently using the neighbour’s wet vac to realize that following the installation the workmen had dislodged a tubing/line and the water was accumulating on the floor at a fairly good clip. I had emptied the wet vac (large) container twice. When I saw the problem I reconnected the humidifier tubing and telephoned the workman who said it was possible that they had left the humidifier tubing not connected and apologized. I could understand as it was Christmas Eve and they had other calls etc. He promised to contact his supervisor. DE did not call so I called the company.
    The process began. The first person I spoke to said in rather a hostile tone “I guess you want us to pay you out” and then connected me with the Claims Supervisor. I thought her attitude was rather odd. However it did set the tone for the next two months. A DE person ( an inspector?) came to my home and checked out the damage. The tiles in the small kitchen area were lfted and damaged. Fortunately , I had lifted the wall to wall basement living room carpet and had put a dehumidifier on for several days so there was no mould. I mentioned to the inspector that I had extra tiles for the kitchen floor. Two more DE men came out and said that the damage could not be patched but the tiles would have to be totally replaced. They said not to bother calling the supervisor as he was going on vacation for a week. I waited and then tried for several weeks to get in touch with many messages left.
    Finally, I called using my friends phone immediately after placing a call from my own line. Miracle of miracles after almost daily calls over several weeks the phone was immediately answered by the Claims Supervisor( who I think must have had call display) He told me that there would be a letter in the mail.
    The letter basically said it was all my fault and that the workmen had actually returned the same day (Christmas Eve)to reattach the humidifier line/tube. This of course was impossible as I was at home and they had no way of coming into the house. Originally, in December, the workman I had spoken to had admitted in their haste to get on to the next job they could have left the tubing detached.
    History was being rewritten. My question was if they believed their revised version why had they sent inspectors out twice? At that point, I was dealing with health issues and another stressor so I gave up.
    Through the years I had followed the Direct Energy stories in Ellen Roseman’s column with interest and sympathy for others who have been treated badly by DE. Presently, DE would like me to renew my contract and I plan to buy out my water heater rental. A friend suggested I check out the web and here I am.
    Brady, I really wish I could be more encouraging.
    Ellen, thank you for the opportunity to tell my story.

  197. Michelle Galloway

    May 20 2011

    Still dealing with Direct Energy after 6 years!

    I moved from a 4000 square foot house to a 2000 square foot house 6 years ago and they were still charging me the same amount.

    They misapplied my payments to them to my ex-husband’s account.

    First they sent a collection company for the money. THEY SAY I owe them. Now they sent antorney.

    I have no intention ofpaying anything that I am not responsible for. They are violating usuy laws and committing fraud. I will continue to dispute these charges.

    Michelle from Texas

  198. lance

    May 30 2011

    is the government doing anything about this?? who is protecting the customers??

  199. James

    May 31 2011

    As a follow-up to my post on March 1st, 2011, both Direct Energy and Enbridge got in contact with me quickly after Ellen’s intervention.

    While it took some time to fully rectify, I am please to say both DE and Enbridge took the time to ensure I was fully compensated for my time and issues.

  200. dayle storie

    Jun 27 2011

    Direct Energy has been sent twice to my house for plumbing, but both times I was told they don’t enter crawl spaces.

    Then, they should say that in their ads and at their website.

  201. Joanne

    Jun 28 2011

    nightmare. I would literally cry when I opened them. Do not EVER sign a contract with Direct Energy! We were bullied into signing by an “agent” at our door several years ago, we foolishly believed him when he promised prices were about to go through the roof, and signing a contract would protect us. Instead, we found ourselves being billed 2-3 times(!!) the rate our neighbors were paying, and our bills went from being manageable to a nightmare. I would literally cry when I opened them. Did I contact Direct Energy? Yes, many, many times. I was always told the same thing, you signed the contract, nothing we can do, not our fault you can no longer afford groceries. Rates are about to go up, Mam, soon these rates will seem like a deal. Never happened. Please, do not let these people fool you. I have had their thief agents at my door since then, trying to sell me on their contracts, and when I have calmly explained why I will not sign up, they have become irate, abusive, and, ironically, accused me of lying. Absolutely despicable.

  202. Gabby

    Jul 12 2011

    Hi there, I am currently assisting my partner with a similar issue with Direct Energy refusing to close his account when he sold his house.

    At the moment, the account has gone to collections, despite a minimum of four phone calls to them directly. Some calls result in their promising to close the account and reverse all charges.

    We have emailed them but after reading these posts I have little faith we will hear back.

    Any suggestions on our next step? What gov’t can we contact to report this bullying and credit harrassment?

    Your comments, suggestions and help are greatly appreciated.

  203. Chantal Lalonde

    Jul 12 2011

    I have a serious issue with Direct Energy. My furnace broke down in October 2008; needless to say it was cold so they were going to send a techinian out to see what the issue was.

    The fee for this was supposed to be $99 as long as my visit was booked on a weekday before 9 pm, which it was. I was later billed $160 or so and have never been refunded.

    I had a total of 3 techinicians come to my house. The first tech ordered a part and left. I retrieved that part from my neighbour’s house when the second tech came to install it.

    Lo and behold, that part was not the one required so the second tech ordered a different part. A third tech came out to install it and Direct Energy charged me a whopping $800 for a supposed $300 part.

    I was overbilled for the initial service call, along with parts that my furnace did not require.

    After several complaint calls about my experience, Direct Energy advised me around Jan. or Feb. 2009 that the account was closed and all charges reversed.

    I later opened my July 2009 bill to find that Direct Energy had added the charges to my Enbridge account. I have been fighting them ever since.

    No one will help me and now Enbridge has cut off my service until the bill is paid in full. They are basically forcing me to pay the bill.

    I have no course of action here. Can someone help???

  204. Chantal Lalonde

    Jul 23 2011

    I just wanted to let you know that Direct Energy reversed the billing and credited me back $1,032.02 for all the charges plus interest and tax!

    Thanks a million Ellen, witout you this would not have been possible :-)

  205. Helen T

    Sep 21 2011

    Ellen, I mailed Direct Energy the following letter after a tank return was not processed:

    Dear Sir or Madam:

    RE: Case #XXXXXXXX

    I am writing with regards to my recent experience returning a water heater tank.

    I had a new water heater installed in my home on Saturday August 27, 2011 and on the same day decided to return my old tank to Direct Energy Home Services.

    I had called your company beforehand to obtain details of the drop off location, hours of operation and the return process. I also hired someone to assist me with carrying the bulky and heavy tank.

    We arrived at the Brampton Direct Energy Home Services location just before 4 p.m. and found all the doors to the store were locked and the lights out.

    I was confused, because I was positive that the customer service (CS) agent had told me that the location was open on Saturdays until 6 p.m. and the sign outside the store confirmed this.

    I called the CS line to inquire and was assured that the location should be open for business.

    While I was on the phone, I saw a woman rush out of the store. I quickly intercepted her and asked her if the store was open and she replied “no”, I then asked if it would still be possible to process a water heater tank return.

    She brushed me off, telling me that there is still someone at the back of the building that will process my return and then rushed into her vehicle and left.

    We drove to the back of the building to find a man getting into a Direct Energy branded van. I walked up to his moving van and tapped on his window signalling him to lower his window so that I could speak to him.

    Not only did he refuse to lower his window, he waved me off and sped away while I was only a mere inches of his vehicle.

    We also knocked at the back doors and rang a doorbell to see if there may still be anyone else inside the store, but we received no answer.

    I called CS immediately and related the entire incident to Erin and also to Bob at Customer Care. While Bob was kind enough to arrange complimentary pick up of the water heater tank, I feel that the issue has not been totally resolved:

    First, I ask that the two employees at the store be severely reprimanded if not terminated. Their actions were absolutely unacceptable as front line employees.

    Neither employee I saw that day wanted to take ownership of a simple water heater tank return, and just passed the buck or refused to even hear me out.

    I may add that I was not under any impression that either of them were leaving due to any emergency, but rather seemed eager only to leave work.

    If they are so unwilling to do the work they are hired to do, then they really should not be hired at all.

    Secondly, the management of that location must be thoroughly reviewed. My tank return should have been processed as I arrived well within operating hours.

    I trusted the information provided by your company and based on that, I made arrangements to return the tank. Clearly, the employees at the Brampton location do not respect the stated operating hours, and failed to deliver on customer service.

    I can tell that customer service training is apparent at the call centre, but somehow the training is sorely lacking at the store.

    The disconnect needs to remedied, as it only takes one bad customer experience to taint further dealings with a company.

    I also question if the managers at the store are aware that they have employees who claim to work all day, only to shirk their working hours yet still expect to be paid in full.

    I am sure you can agree that an inefficiently-run store wastes resources and ultimately impacts the bottom line of the entire company.

    Lastly, I mentioned that I had hired someone to help me return the tank. Obviously, the task was not completed as intended and his time was wasted with the added exercise of having to unload the tank back into my garage for pick up.

    I was required to pay him $50 for his time and effort. I kindly request reimbursement for the said amount, which has been an inconvenient ordeal for both him and myself.

    Your attention to my concerns would greatly appreciated. I would also like to hear from you soon regarding the resolution of the aforementioned issues.
    Sincerely,
    Helen T

    I got a call September 21, 2011 from Donna, who made the following comments regarding my letter:

    – Donna said there were two departments at that location, one that worked until 4 pm and the other until 6 pm, supposedly to process tank returns.

    I can confirm there was NO ONE THERE after those two employees left. I banged on the back door and the front doors were all locked and lights were out.

    – Donna said she would forward the letter along with an email to the Brampton office. So the Brampton office doesn’t even know about this, and she did not mention anything about what will happen to those two employees in question.

    – Donna said it was my choice to hire someone to help me with the tank so there will be no reimbursement. I would have gladly paid the $50 out of pocket, but because Direct Energy failed to processed my tank return, I paid $50 for someone to do NOTHING.

    The task was not completed and it was not the fault of myself nor my hired help.

    So needless to say, Donna did not call to provide any resolution to my concerns, but rather to make excuses and confirm that Direct Energy’s customer service can be just as bad at head office.

    I was kind enough to write Direct Energy to settle the issue privately.

    Unfortunately, the answer I received is not acceptable. So I am taking this issue to the public sphere. Can you help? Thanks.

  206. S turner

    Oct 2 2011

    I have had very bad luck with Direct Energy for 5 years with water tank problems.

    I have had 2 tanks put in, paid for new pipes for the venter motor and here I am with no hot water again tonight.

    I call and the earliest appointment I can get is 24 hrs away.

    For a full year, I was told to just unplug the unit and plug it back in to get it to reset. Well, I find myself at a loss and am without hot water once again.

    Another Monday with 4 kids to shower for school and my wife and I to shower for work in cold water. Lucky us.

    I am seriously considering calling the Better Business Bureau tomorrow.

  207. Mohamed Osman

    Oct 4 2011

    1. As I got a new furnace and water tank installed, the installer returned the old water tank on 25/8/2011. But as of yesterday’s received bill (Oct. 3) I am being charged rental for that old tank.

    2. I found I am being charged $29.99 (plus HST 13%) for “Total Home Protection Plan” and requested its cancellation, since I have a new furnace and water tank and AC. Nothing needing their services. The only time I requested a plumbing service, they told me it was not covered and I requested then cancelling it (in 2007).

    However, I am not able to get anyone to resolve that. Their “Customer Service” said it is automatically renewed since 2009 unless I requested cancellation and therefore it is continuing till February 2012. To cancel it, I have to pay all the fees of $29.99/month till February 2012 in a lump sum and then I am out of the contract (that was renewed by default). With such behaviour I would not renew any contract or request any services from Direct Energy. Can you help?

  208. Helen T

    Oct 11 2011

    Update: Donna called me within five days of my post on this site and noted that she was contacted by Ellen. With an improved attitude and actually investigating into the matter, she was able to resolve the issue with me.

    Eleen, thank you for your help!

  209. Lynn D

    Oct 24 2011

    It is now 6 months of dealings with DE to have my Hot Water Tank rental removed from my bill and 6 days ago they have sent my account to collection. They in fact owe me money and not the other way around.

    I have copies of the return to Direct Energy for the tank dated April 14, 2011 and signed by Direct Energy of the return to them.

    Now I am in Collection for an item returned and payments I made for 4 months while trying to sort out the details with DE and NHS and Enbridge.

    I am at a loss and thank you for any help.

  210. Teresa

    Oct 26 2011

    This website has been extremely helfpul & contributed to my feelings about DE.

    My water heater is currently not working properly and when I called DE to fix it, they scheduled it right away to get me a new one. After I insisted to know if there are any contracts/obligations on my part associated with getting a new one or confirmation that I will not be tied to any “implied” contract, they told me they can’t book the repairs and transfered me to the Sales department.

    The Sales department was a bit rude and kept interrupting me, telling me that the contract was implied and ever lasting. I asked to get a copy of the contract and they would not provide it to me. After insisting for a while, they gave me the link to the contract terms.

    They do not want to book a repair to my existing water heater unless I accept the new one and sign the new contract. I asked for the one to be repaired because I’ve been paying the rental fees, but they wouldn’t book it.

    When I said I would consider buying a new one, they told me I had to buy the current water heater plus removal fees and then I’ll be free of the current contract. The current contract is also an implied contract because I didn’t explicitely opt out when I purchased my home.

    After persisting on written details about this for quite a while, the representative finally said those fees would be waived and they’d remove the tank.

    The more I read in this website, the more I want to purchase/rent my water heater from someone else. Do you have any suggestions on how to avoid being charged for these penalty fees later on? DE seems very adamant at not sharing their written documentation on anything.

    Thanks!

  211. Karen

    Oct 27 2011

    I too, would love to know how to get out of the scam that DE has set up for new home owners. The builder of my home installed a rental hot-water unit in the basement and in my sales agreement, it states that I have assumed this rental contract. I have a TON of questions regarding this situation…

    1) How can a rental contract not have an expiry date? Surely a rental term must come to an end at some point, other than the forced buy-out option.

    2) How can DE force a buy-out option and then include a clause in their rental agreements saying that the buyer assumes the hot-water tank in “as-is” condition? This essentially states that if the tank were to crap out the day after purchase, they would do nothing and refund you nothing. Is this legal?

    3) How do they determine the buy-out costs of their hot water tanks?

    4) What is my recourse for complaint regarding all of the above? The government seems eager to process complaints regarding door-to-door scams, but seriously, how is this any worse?

    5) What are Enbridge’s responsibilities in all of this?

  212. Marc Pearce

    Nov 6 2011

    It’s incredible how the Energy Marketing and Water Heater Rental scams keep snaring new victims.

    The economics of owning your water heater vs. renting have always been very compelling. That’s why Direct Energy and their competitors have to resort to shady methods to sign up customers and then make it as difficult and expensive as possible to cancel!

    As soon as it became possible to buy out our rental water heater from Consumers Gas (back in 1997), I immediately paid the $450 cost quoted.

    The water heater was practically brand new, as the original rental unit had been replaced by Consumers (at no charge) and I did not even have to pay installation!

    Since then, I laugh at all the door-to-door sales people who continually try to sucker us into those horrible contracts!

    That $450 water heater (owned by us) has been functioning perfectly for over 14 years, saving us thousands of dollars in montly rental fees and the dubious benefit of having to deal with Direct Energy and their even less scrupulous competitors!

    Caveat Emptor.

  213. Jane

    Nov 8 2011

    The more I read on this website, the more I’m worried.

    Three years ago, I inherited both the heating protection plan and the water tank rental with DE from the previous owner of the house. I don’t recall seeing the agreements – the charges just appeared automatically since my first Enbridge bill.

    A week ago, the furnace was red tagged during an annual maintenance and it’ll cost $1,000 to fix it, as I was told the broken part is not covered in the protection plan.

    So I’ve decided to buy a new one and quit the protection plan. I was told that I still had to make the next two monthly payments until the agreement is up for renewal in December.

    It is not very pleasant, I think. This is an annual plan I can’t end before the expiry date – even if I won’t need any protection for the next two months!

    At the same time, my 12-year old rented water tank started leaking a little (first time since I moved in). A technician came and said it might be just a crack on the plastic hose. It’s common and minor and she just needs to replace a small part.

    After working on it for an hour, the leaking got worse. She suggested that I have the tank replaced, for free! BUT I have to pay $250 for upgrading the vents to meet the new codes.

    Again it’s not very pleasant. I own the vents, according to DE’s explanation, so even I can get a free water tank under the rental agreement, I still have to pay for the upgrade of something I own.

    So I’ve decided to own my own hot water tank. Paying $250 for just upgrading some pipes and continuing paying $25 monthly rental forever just don’t sound like a good deal.

    After I found a deal for a new water tank, I phoned DE to arrange for the removal of the old tank and termination of the agreement. I think most of you have guessed by now what I was told – I needed to drop off the tank to the drop off location, or pay $75 to hire someone from DE to take it back (of course, this is written in the famous agreement).

    I was told the rental agreement will not be terminated and I will continue being charged until the broken tank is returned.

    I live in Ottawa. It’s true my house is only 6 km from the drop off location. So according to the “agreement’’, I’m not qualified for the free pick-up.

    So I have to pay to have a piece of broken equipment owned by DE removed from my property, after DE has collected monthly rental on it for 12 years. (How much rental charge in total has been paid for this equipment in the last 12 years?)

    I feel speechless. I’m currently waiting for a call back from DE to hear my complaint.

  214. Isaac

    Nov 10 2011

    I was victimized in much the same way as many others when my daughter was bullied into giving up our bills and signing a contract.
    I emailed the company and informed them that the contract was invald and that they were in possession of my private documents – my utility bills. I then told them (and I followed through) that I was making a formal complaint with the privacy commissioner of Canada.
    Guess what? The so-called lost bills appeared in my mail two days later!

  215. roxiane

    Nov 18 2011

    Bought a new furnace from Direct Energy with a 12 year warranty in 2008. Furnace had been running fine until I followed up w the ‘annual maintenance’ and inspection.

    After the techs came this summer, I noticed a red light flashing on the furnace, so I called to find out if this was normal. Had it been there all along and I had not noticed it?

    A tech came out and said all was fine. Ok. Furnace starts flashing 2 red signals and finally stops working, period.

    Second tech comes out who is the same fellow who looked at the air conditioner. He can’t find the problem and orders a new ‘motherboard’.

    All is good for 2 weeks. Now sitting here in 13 degrees C.

    Three techs later, we’re waiting for tech #4? Can we just fix the problem? What’s going on here?

    Eventually they will tell me that it’s not covered, despite the fact that no one knows how to diagnose or fix a problem, it seems.

    Same thing happened with my old furnace, which now leads me to think maybe no one could fix it, just like now.

    I had this tech and that tech come over and eventually one says the last shouldn’t have done this or that without having done this or that first.

    Last tech just wasted a brand new motor, one says. Hmmm, you’re only covered for 4 visits…well, I wouldn’t need more visits if someone in that operation could fix that damn problem in the first visit.

    Now it’s a new furnace that was working just fine until they came to ‘maintain’ it. What the #@@L!

    Will today’s tech be better than the last 3 or just screw it up more? Who knows? Very frustrated and freezing.

    Annoyed that I bought a $6,000+ furnace that is being broken, it seems, by this incompetent company. Yes, it seems like there is no one to complain to at that 1-800 #!!!

  216. Paul Harris

    Nov 18 2011

    Hi Ellen, I have had many an issue with Direct Energy.

    First I canceled my contract. Then they sent me a bill which I was not responsible for. They sent me to collections and had an attorney call me.

    I presented the information proving that I was not responsibile and their lawyer recommended I pay anyway, so as to not affect my credit. I did this.

    Lo & behold, after sending me to collections, they sent me a cheque for the exact same amount a year later.

    What about the accured interest on that money? Also, when you set up an account with them, they require a deposit in most cases. When the deposit is returned, it never has interest accrued on it.

    Basically, this company takes your deposits and uses them for their own investments, making profit over the term of the deposit required, then sends back the original amount.

    How come when you leave a deposit with landlords they are required to pay you accrued interest but Direct Energy is not?

    I could have used that money to make my own investments and made profit myself. This seems like it should be illegal.

  217. roxiane

    Nov 21 2011

    So we’re now at Nov. 21, and I’m waiting for tech #5?

    So far, invested 16 hrs of my life waiting during 4 hr windows for techs to come. Now sitting waiting on the phone when i should be getting ready for work.

    Well, at least the furnace worked on the weekend for two whole days. Just ridiculous. Really frustrating. So fed up!!!

  218. roxiane

    Nov 21 2011

    Could there be a light at the end of this 2008 furnace not working saga?

    Tech just left. He is sure that he has fixed the problem…he said that when tech #1 installed the new motherboard, he left the old 80V ignitor switch for the new board, which requires a 120V. It burned out.

    So tech #2 comes along & replaces the burned 80V switch with a new 80V switch, which burns out again. HELLO???

    Finally, tech #3 ordered the part ahead of time and read the history, & attached the 120 V switch. Let’s hope this solves our problem permanently.

    Of course, this isn’t including the previous 2 techs in the summer (1 who did maintenance and noticed no problems & 2 who showed up and told me there was no problem w the flashing red light that didn’t flash before…then it breaks down 2 weeks later).

    DE, can we have some kind of evaluation of the 4 techs you sent out, who obviously don’t know how to fix anything???

  219. krishna

    Dec 3 2011

    I would suggest Direct Energy keep their appointments.

    I received this elaborate email confirming my appointment on Dec. 3, 2011, between the hours of 8 am and 12 pm. However no one bothered to show up or even call me to say they were unable to keep the appointment.

    I made a call to customer service around 12:45 pm. The first customer service representative could not answer my simple questions, so he proceeded to transfer me to his manager.

    What a surprise. She could not answer the questions either and wanted to transfer me to another person. I’d heard enough and I terminated the call.

    The service is absolutely useless.

    Around 3:30 P.M, a person called and identified himself as technician. He said he called my number and my wife was on the phone and he could not get through.

    I guess Direct Energy employ geniuses or magicians, since they can identify the person on the other end when the phone is engaged and cannot get through.

    Now that I realized I have been taken for a ride, I am not ashamed to admit it, as everyone gets caught in a scam at some time. However, I will be damned if I let this happen twice.

    Reviewing my contract, I understand that I am stuck with it for another year.

    In case of emergency, they do take the call immediately. But the technician may not show up for a few days.

    What a scam!

  220. Sarah

    Jan 3 2012

    I manage a rental property and came across a problem when my 50 gallon tank did not provide enough hot water for the 5 bathrooms within the building.

    I had extensively researched the best option for my problem, even considering a tankless water heater, but was informed by Direct Energy employees that the best option was the 75 gallon tank. So I agreed to have my 50 gallon replaced by a 75 gallon tank.

    It was only until a few weeks ago that I was informed by a DE technician that the water tank they installed was the incorrect one for the location it was in.

    At this point, I had had at least 10 technicians come into the unit and say nothing about the problem. It was only until this one man that I was I was properly informed.

    I called DE to resolve the issue, only to find out that they did not have access to a larger tank that was right for the unit. I than decided to to cancel with DE to install my own water tank.

    I called to find out cancellation fees and was told that my only option was to “buy out” my tank for a cost of over $1,000, at which point I would own the tank.

    If it wasn’t for DE’s lack of information, I would have never installed the new 75 gallon tank.

    I have now been tagged and have 45 days to decide whether to downgrade to a 50 gallon (which is not enough for the amount of people in the building) or buy out, paying over $1,000 for a water tank I cannot use.

    I called and was placed on hold, then switched to three different people until I was speaking to a women who claimed she as a manager. I explained my situation and the faults of Direct Energy but she insisted that there was nothing they could do.

    Frustrated at this point, since they did not own up to their mistake and persistently told me that there were no other options.

    If they had properly trained their technician/customer service rep, I WOULD have NOT installed the tank and wasted my time waiting for appointments, being placed on hold and throwing away money for additional costs associated with the 75 gallon tank.

    For once, it would be nice if they could admit to their mistakes and fix THEIR problems.

  221. Mike

    Jan 4 2012

    I have just received my natural gas renewal form from Direct Energy, which I got sucked into 5 years ago like so many others here.

    I made the call to not renew my contract today. After 10 minutes of listening to him trying to push his crap on me and finally getting upset with guy on the other end, he finally said he would give me a cancel request number. I will also fill out the cancellation form and send it via registered mail.

    After reading so many complaints and issues, I feel like my non-renewal request will not be fullfilled and I will go on paying even more for nothing. Any comments or advice would be great. Thank you.

  222. FRENCHPINAY

    Jan 27 2012

    MY COMMENTS TO MOST OF YOU HAVE ISSUE WITH DIRECT ENERGY.

    FIRST, TO A PARENT WHOSE CHILD SIGNS A CONTRACT, A WORD OF ADVICE. YOUR SON SHOULD KNOW WHAT TO DO SINCE HE’S 29 YEARS OLD.

    BASICALLY, IF HE’S NOT AUTHORIZED, HE SHOULDN’T OPEN THE DOOR IF HE SAW SAME PERSON COME AND ASKING FOR THE BILLS FOR GAS & ELECTRICITY AND NOT TO TALK TO THAT PERSON ASKING ABOUT THE BILL.

    WHO KNOWS THAT PERSON MAY NOT WORK FOR DIRECT ENERGY. AND I SUGGEST ALL OF YOU GUYS NEED TO READ THE TERMS AND CONDITION OF THE CONTRACT AND HAVE 10 DAYS TO CANCEL TOO.

  223. jon biff

    Feb 5 2012

    the 24 hour service direct energy and enbridge have is bs….

  224. Jenny McMullen

    Feb 11 2012

    DE is the worst. I’m going on 48 hours with no hot water and I rent my water tank!

    They sent out two technicians so far and each time trying to upsell us something else without having the tank in stock (40 gallon tank that is not in stock – COME ON???).

    I have two small preschool kids and it’s mid-February and this is what you call service for the “convenience” of renting. Screw them. Never again.

    I’m buying from an independent company and praying they will go out of business and if I can in any way help that, I will! Please boycott them.

  225. Steve

    Feb 19 2012

    We have have the same experience as everyone else here with DE. Got hooked into signing the protection plan 5 years ago and have tried to cancel many times, but no luck.

  226. Karina

    Mar 2 2012

    I signed up for a yearly maintenance package with Direct Energy last September and received a service cleaning on my furnace. In November, I upgraded my plan.

    Since November, I have been receiving calls, emails and letters in the mail advising me that I am entitled to a free maintenance on my furnace, which I am aware of, but since I just got one in September, I do not wish to have the maintenance done until August/September 2012.

    I have explained this each time I have received a call and asked nicely to be removed from their calling list for the time being. I asked them to please call me again in the summer to schedule the maintenance.

    Some weeks, I receive 2 calls a day each day for 1 week straight. It has got to the point where it is ridiculous.

    One call I received last week informed me that if I just make the booking for some time at the end of March, I would stop receiving calls. So I tried that but have received an email, a letter in the mail and 2-3 calls per day since last week. This is insane!

    Yesterday, I spoke to a Supervisor called Amanda who ensured me that the notes were upated in my file to not call me again. She apologized for the misunderstanding and constant calling.

    This morning at 930, I received another call from an agent (Shawn Elder)about booking my maintenance. If I receive one more call, I will cancel my contract, file a complaint with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, create a blog regarding the horrible service I have received from Direct Enery, post on Twitter and Facebook as well.

    I AM ASKING ONE LAST TIME…DO NOT CALL ME ANY MORE!!!!!

  227. Robert

    Mar 7 2012

    Changes to DE Water Heater Rental Agreements prior to September 2010:

    Today I received a letter from Direct Energy Home Services informing me of “service enhancements and updates” to my hot water rental agreement, together with a copy of the new agreement. If I wish to retain the old agreement (applicable to units rented before Sept. 5, 2010), it is up to me to call them before April 2nd.

    The most important change eliminates the option of terminating the agreement at any time by returning the rental unit to them, at a cost of $75. The charge is waived, if the unit is more than 15 years old.

    Instead, under the new Agreement, the only option is to purchase the unit, based on a “buy out” price schedule. For a unit more than 14 years old like mine, for example, the charge is a minimum of $204 up to $1,154, depending on the model. Any costs associated with removal and disposal of the unit also would be the renter’s responsibility.

    This change is nowhere mentioned in the letter. They do, however, remind you “to review” the new agreement enclosed with the letter and provide a number to call “if you wish to retain your existing agreement unchanged and not accept the service enhancements and changes”. If you call, they will eventually agree to keep the old agreement.

    Direct Energy’s attempt to impose what amounts to a new minimum contract termination fee of $200 is bad enough.

    By choosing to do it with a misleading letter that begins by thanking me “for my loyalty as their customer”, speaks volumes about what they really think of their customers.

  228. Marg Wood

    Mar 14 2012

    I just sent an email to Direct Energy and told them I wanted to stay with my original agreement. Or buy my water heater and how much would the buyout cost?

    I am 73 and I think these people take advantages of seniors. What should I do if there is no response? I can’t spend hours on the phone trying to reach them.

    Thank you for all the information!

  229. Greg Walsh

    Mar 14 2012

    I received the new Terms and conditions early this week and after a quick read and check of my file I called to ask that a note be placed on my file documenting that I do not accept the change in Terms and Conditions. The one part that stuck with me was that the buyout of my used water heater was going to increased every year based on CPI. Only with DE can a used item increase in value – what a bunch of MORONS!

  230. 1st-hand

    Mar 17 2012

    Let me begin by saying I am a DE tech… as a front line worker, it saddens me hear all the complaints that have come from an article that does not fully tell the whole story.

    Sure, DE is not perfect, but like any company, they have service targets & standards that they try to meet or exceed expectations.

    It seems apparent that you won’t hear, from Ellen, all the hundreds of thank you letters that customers took time to write to the company in regards to the great & timely service they’ve received.

    Having said that, I believe that a hornet’s nest is being unleashed. The newer generation of water heaters have changed dramatically. The manufacturers have been mandated to increase safety. With that comes increased prices & nuisance calls.

    Manufacturers have been slow to react to the problems associated with their products. Companies like DE that buy in bulk put pressure on these manufacturers to resolve these issues.
    DE receives updates on recalls & promptly issues the proper fixes.

    Now, do you really think that that Box Store or local gas/plumber will let you know about these problems? Chances are (insert answer here).

    That Installer will come to warranty my tank I bought at the Box Store (y/n).

    My new tank was red tagged because it wasn’t to code. Will they come back to repair (y/n)?

    It’s the weekend or the holidays & its not working. Will they come out or how much will they charge? Do they even have the parts required?

    I could go on but be careful what you wish for…Consumers will find out soon enough the true cost of owning the new generation of water heaters.

    Another neglected point is that you could always buy your tank from DE but people always seem to rent because it is more convenient.

    Good luck to all.

  231. Gary

    Mar 29 2012

    Letter to our customers
    By D.E. Unit Bargaining Committee
    Published: March 29, 2012

    THEY TRIED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WATER HEATER CUSTOMERS. NOW THEY ARE COMING AFTER THE EMPLOYEES.
    Â
    CEP Local 975 has a long history with Ontarians, serving customers for over 100 years as the Field and Clerical workers for Consumers Gas, Enbridge and currently Direct Energy, which is the Enbridge Home Services spin off. 

    We also have over 700 members who work on behalf of the current utility company, Enbridge Gas Distribution. 

    We have been in your homes and the homes of your family and friends over the years and our members are proud to say they do their best to ensure you, our customers, are serviced to the best of our abilities. 

    We take the greatest pride in doing our utmost to make our customers happy, provide the safest most professional service experience for our customers and ensure their equipment performs to the highest standards.

    We have been working without a Collective Agreement for the last year now and have continued to provide services to our customers and have done the best we can with what the company provides us. 

    It is a sad day to say, we can no longer support the direction Direct Energy is taking.  Their new mode of operation seems to be a mindset of employee and customer exploitation and profits at all costs.

    The company is taking a hard line and is seeking as much as a 25% clawback in wages, as well as sweeping concessions that have no impact on customer service whatsoever. They claim they need changes to make more profit for Centrica, even though this company is a profitable business.

    While we don’t want to leave customers in a situation without professional service, we are being forced into a difficult position. 

    Becoming a licensed Tradesperson in Ontario is not an overnight proposition.  This company wants to drive wages back 10+ years.  This will have a ripple effect throughout the entire industry.

    As our customers did with the new terms and conditions on the rental water heaters, it is our turn to take a stand on a living wage, balancing work and family and being paid a fair salary and fair benefits from a company that continues to make large profits.

    We truly regret any inconvenience we may cause you in the event of a service disruption.

    Feel free to let this company know that its employees deserve respect and dignity in their workplace!
     

  232. chris

    Apr 18 2012

    It is totalling confusing when you deal with this company. As others have said, you cannot get the right person on the phone to get things resolved.

    We refused to let one of their sales people who came to our door see our gas bill and he was totally flabergasted. We had to close the door on him because he would not accept no as an answer.

    They have so much work to do to become a company you can trust. It may not be possible due to their low life way of doing business.

    Disgusted in Ontario.

  233. josh

    Apr 30 2012

    In Manitoba, they also go door to door signing people up, whether you say yes or no. They do not deal with your complaints when you call in. They steal hundreds of dollars a year from us in extra rates.

    I do not know why Manitoba Hydro or any other hydro company works with these people. IT IS NOT RIGHT AT ALL.

    With Direct Energy, which we DID NOT SIGN UP FOR (they forged our name on the contract), we pay 40 dollars a month. It’s the end of April and the heat is off 99% of the time…

    Something needs to be done, but what?????

  234. Kimberley

    May 25 2012

    Yesterday I had the pleasure of coming home to find my gas service cut off. There was a letter of overdue account from Direct Energy in the mail box.

    This surprised me as I had cancelled my services with them, in favour of ATCO, in January. Upon contacting Direct Energy, they denied any record of cancellation of services and insisted I owe them for four months of bills, despite the fact that I’ve already paid ATCO for the gas.

    After reading the posts above, I’m confident that resolving this issue will be a breeze, considering the company’s helpful staff, prompt response time and dedication to client care.

    They have already offered to reconnect my gas for the small fee of $148.00 in the short time of 4 days from now.

  235. Call Center Slave

    Jul 24 2012

    You wonder why it is so hard to get a straight answer from Direct Energy call centre employes?

    Well, first of all, they are not employees of Direct Energy. They are “independent contractors” who work from home, pay for all their own equipment and phone lines, pay for training and then pay a go-between to have “system access” and deposits made to their bank account.

    On top of that, they are expected to sell you protection plans, have a minimum handling and hold time and a “call quality” of a certain percentage. All this for the princely sum of $11 per hour (no benefits, no deductions).

    Oh, but wait, if the agent has to complete any “paperwork” after the call, they have 30 seconds to complete it or they stop getting paid after the 30 seconds is up.

    No wonder all they want to do is sell you something. This is the only way they make money, as they get a percentage of the sale, after 90 days, that is, and only if you don’t cancel or the “quality control” agent doesn’t find something wrong with the way they handled the call and take the sale away from them.

    Direct Energy is constantly hiring new employees through Contract Exchange, the people who look after the training and hiring process. Other companies also use this service, but there doesn’t seem to be the high turnover that Direct Energy has. Perhaps they are not so demanding as DE?

    If you consider that there are 12-15 new recruits each class and 2-3 classes each month, there are about 45 new recruits to answer your questions and sell you plans you don’t want when you call in because you have no heat or hot water.

    No wonder the customers are frustrated and angry.

    Most of these agents are just looking for some part-time work and are either immigrants, housewives or older people, looking for a little extra cash.

    Add this mix to an hour of team meetings per week (unpaid), “coaching” sessions of an hour per week (unpaid) and system outages by DE (unpaid or make it up later), and it is no wonder some people don’t last a month.

    But no worry, as there are plenty more willing to pony up $300 for training to get in on the act.

    Jobs are hard to come by and many people stick with it for a a while. If you’re lucky, you will get one of those agents, and if not, well, this blog is full of examples, isn’t it?

  236. barriefurnacerepair

    Nov 17 2012

    The following video explains it all:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYnRyy8JzUI

    Direct Energy fails again! After noticing that my web traffic was down and having received some odd phone calls about a $179 flat rate repair scam, I discovered something even more underhanded.

    Apparently, Texas-based Direct Energy is using my business name to drum up local customers in my service area through Google and SEO techniques. How embarrassing for them.

    The first line of their webpage reads, “Why not trust a Barrie company with your furnace repair that offers a 24-hour call centre to handle any furnace emergency?” It seems innocuous at first until you realize where your calls are being directed.

    This fail comes into epic status as the accent of the woman gives it away. Upon further research, I discovered that Direct Energy is in the process of outsourcing many Canadian jobs outside our country. Many of these jobs found their way to the new HQ in Houston.

    I agree with what is said on the webpage, “trust a Barrie company”. Sadly, 500 out of work Canadians who are former Direct Energy employees would also agree.

    http://www.citytv.com/toronto/citynews/news/local/article/182031

  237. Jennifer Allen

    Nov 18 2012

    Apparently, I am yet another consumer who has been duped by Direct Energy.

    Three years ago, my husband had our water heater replaced by one from Reliance. All the proper paperwork and procedures were put into place and we no longer had Direct Energy’s water heater.

    It was Reliance’s job to return the water heater for us and they did so (I have the paperwork they sent me to show that it was returned).

    Direct Energy, however, has continued to bill me for the last 3 years for the said water heater, which of course, we no longer have. This charge is added to my Enbridge bill. I never noticed it.

    Now they are telling me that they will reimburse us $5 for half of the last month’s rental charges and that their records do not show that the correct water heater was returned to them.

    Not only are they insulting me with the lame $5, when the actual reimbursement should be $500, but they are insisting that Reliance is to blame.

    Furthermore, the service reps were more than condescending. I sent 3 emails to Direct Energy informing them of this issue and I enclosed a copy of the Removal Order with all its signatures.

    Over the course of 3 months and with all my efforts, they say they did not receive any emails and make out like the entire issue is my problem. They are unwilling to offer any assistance, despite taking my money for 3 years.

    When I spoke with Enbridge and with Reliance, I was treated with respect, courtesy and assurances that they would help me with this matter. And they have followed through with their commitments.

    Nevertheless, I am still without any resolution to this matter.

  238. barriefurnacerepair

    Dec 12 2012

    Here’s a video I made about DE…hope you like it :-)

    http://youtu.be/JYnRyy8JzUI

  239. barriefurnacerepair

    Dec 12 2012

    @Jennifer Allen

    I hear these stories all the time from people like yourself and this company.

    The reason I’m interested is so that I can get a good grasp of your point of view and make sure I never treat my own customers so coldly.

    How did they get so big from treating people like garbage? People in Barrie who have gone through what you have often come to me with the same kind of stories.

  240. barriefurnacerepair

    Dec 12 2012

    There’s a great breakdown on DE with their “Total Home Protection Plan” at the following site. Someone had taken the time to read all the fine print and provided it in an easy to understand language for us non-lawyer types….

    http://www.consumerswakeup.com/Direct-Energy-Scam-Report.html

  241. Dinesh

    Feb 21 2013

    Every one should know the fact that it is illegal to renew the contract without the buyer. People should come forward and resist or make a suit against this.

  242. Patrick

    Feb 26 2013

    With Enbridge backing them up for collections, Direct Energy can bill how they like and nobody in the city of Toronto or anywhere can stop them.

    I have been billed $558.74 for a protection plan on my Enbridge bill and I never consented to it.

    When I ask, I get the runaround that this is between me and Direct Energy. I can’t get rid of the charges (which appear on Enbridge’s bill), so I’ll have my gas cut off if not paid?

    The mob at its best!!!!

  243. Patrick

    Feb 26 2013

    I have filed a complaint with PWC, which is Direct Energy’s external auditor. They will have to answer to allegations of fraud and bad earnings management in order to meet their targets and bonuses by reporting unearned revenues billed to consumers without proper consent. Justice will prevail!

  244. Lester

    Mar 15 2013

    Direct Energy has anti-competitive practices when it comes to water tank rentals.

    We signed an agreement to purchase our home in September 2010 and closed the purchase of our home on December 2010. Unknown to me at the time, the previous owner had Direct Energy install a new hot water tank in November 2010.

    I became aware of a rise to the rental cost for our tank when looking at my invoice. The increased rental cost triggered me to review whether I should continue to rent the hot water tank. It quickly became apparent that I should buy a tank. I was told by their call centre that I could return my existing tank or buy it out.

    I spent the next week investigating whether it is best to independently buy a new hot water tank or buy out the existing one. I discovered that my home should have a larger hot water tank then what is currently installed. I also realized that I could buy a brand new equivalent hot water tank and have it professionally installed for slightly less then the buyout cost of my current unit. Given this, I purchased a new hot water tank and proceeded to contact Direct Energy to arrange the returning my current tank.

    Upon contacting Direct Energy a second time to disconnect my rental tank, I was told that the previous home owner had entered into a contract which flows through to me, and requires me to either continue renting the hot water tank for it’s useful life, or buy it out at Direct Energy’s current buyout rate. The buyout rate as quoted to me as $740 + HST. I feel that the contract boxes me into an unfair situation because DE can raise the rental rate, dictate the buyout rate, and I have to choose from one of the two options with no competitive choice based on a contract that someone else has entered into. The buyout rate of my 2.5 year old tank is more expensive then buying and professionally installing an equivalent new tank.

    Since I never signed and have not seen the contract, I asked to see a copy of the signed contract. I’ve been told on 5 separate calls that I can’t see the contract that someone else signed because of privacy reasons. After complaining to the Office of the president, I finally saw the contract.

    This company is crooked and very anti-consumer. I am going to stop doing business with them as soon as I can.

  245. YAMA

    Apr 12 2013

    Direct Energy is charging me for Total Home Protection Plan. I asked them in 2012 to cancel it as I no longer require it, but they told me that I had to wait until the end of my contract in Feb 2013.

    Now that my contract period is over, they are still charging me and they have renewed my contract for another year without my consent or informing me.

    I spoke to their Cancellation Department supervisor (Donald) and he tried to convince me that I had to stay another year with them, no matter whether I needed their service or not, since they had renewed my contract.

    I tried to contact the Ministry Of Consumer Services and am pursuing the matter with them.

    Direct Energy should be sued for their unfair way of business and scamming Canadians. How can they renew your contract without your consent? How can they assume the customer requires their service and is able and willing to pay for it?

    Renewal should not be automatic. It should be done with the customer’s consent.

    I ADVISE YOU TO PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM DIRECT ENERGY. YOU WILL REGRET DOING BUSINESS WITH THEM AND ONCE YOU ARE BOUND IN A CONTRACT, IT’S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO GET OUT OF IT, AS THEY HAVE THEIR TRICKS TO KEEP YOU BOUND TO IT.

    I will ensure I escalate my complaint to every level possible to ensure no one else is scammed by Direct Energy.

    Again, I advise STAY AWAY FROM DIRECT ENERGY.

    Ellen, can you please HELP?

  246. Bev

    Jul 23 2013

    Good day, I am currently frustrated in getting out of an existing furnance maintenance plan that I took on a year ago. I have now sold the house and moving out August 2 into a new home that does not require this plan as having a new furnance.

    I am advised I either pay a penalty to get out of this contract or downgrade plan and stuck into another year long contract. I contacted the Ministry of Consumer Affairs but stated it was up to me to read the Terms and Conditions. Can anyone assist?

  247. M BARNES

    Sep 4 2013

    am i the only person who has a problem with the admin fees on my bill? in August I bought $7.11 of gas but with fees the bill is $67.16? $7.59 direct energy admin fee… $30.23 atco delivery fee????2nd delivery fee $3.17 rate rider $2.29 and a $13.56 municipal fee??? $60 in delivery fees and admin fees??

  248. Hazem Maksoud

    Feb 5 2014

    Today I called to upgrade my home heating maintenance plan. After we discussed the options, pricing and terms, I said OK to upgrade.

    Just then, I asked, “What if I want to cancel?” He said I would be liable for the balance of the contract and would be billed for it, so I immediately said, “Forget it, don’t change it.”

    He said it was too late and he couldn’t undo the change, even though it was to take effect tomorrow.

    Naturally, I was very upset. I asked to talk to a supervisor, who gave me two options: either to proceed with the new plan for one year or to renew my existing useless plan for another year.

    Knowing how powerful and intimidating Direct Energy is, I opted to renew the existing plan for another year.

    I cannot believe this could happen in Canada with a phone conversation that was not even finished and a contract that was to take effect the next day, they refused to undo the changes. Is this legal?

    What are my options, just pay them one year worth of the old plan and get rid of them?
    Any suggestions?

  249. Ellen Roseman

    Feb 23 2014

    I don’t know if this was legal or not. However, I do know that Direct Energy needs about one month’s notice to cancel a home maintenance plan. If you don’t cancel, they will roll over your plan for another year automatically.

    Once your plan is renewed, you’re stuck with payments for a year. So, you should make sure to cancel well before the plan’s expiry date. Don”t wait until the last day.

  250. Jeff E.

    May 15 2014

    Direct Energy installed a new furnace and air conditioner at our home. Their installers damaged our hard wood floor, hammering tin directly onto the service without placing a drop sheet underneath where they were working. The installer signed the work order saying that they damaged the floor.

    Now Direct Energy is giving us the runaround by trying to weasel their way out of paying for the damage. All we have been getting so far is a bunch of excuses.

  251. Ron Angus

    Jul 29 2014

    We had home protection coverage with Direct Energy for a Long time. In May, we renewed the contract and a week later, Direct Energy replaced the 18 years furnace and AC with a new system which were covered by warranty.

    We were told by Direct Energy engineer that we do not need the protection and maintenance coverage and the plans will be cancelled.

    When we receive the bill of June/July, we found they are charging us for plumbing protection. I called to cancel the plumbing because we are closing the house and we never renewed the contract with the new equipment,

    We were told that we have to pay for the whole year, so we cancelled just to get away from this company. We are moving to a new house and will never deal with Direct Energy again. We do not trust them, they have no appreciation of loyal customers.

  252. Cameron Thomson

    Aug 12 2014

    This may not be the ideal setting in which to do what I am about to do, but it’s hard to resist, given the sheer number of comments here and, indeed, their currency. I hope I’m not out of line!

    (It is certainly telling that an April 29, 2008 article about Direct Energy’s customer service issues is still garnering comments today. Clearly, the piece remains ever so topical!)

    So: I am an independent researcher and policy analyst. My current research focuses, fundamentally, on the Ontario Energy Board’s oversight of the conduct of companies like Direct Energy.

    Direct Energy, however, is proving to be a more and more illustrative instance of the kind of problem that faces the OEB – and which they do not seem to be very good at dealing with.

    As my project develops, I am beginning to wonder whether or not there are folks out there who paid Direct Energy for electricity during the period from May 1, 2002 through April 30, 2009 – and who would be willing to share their old bills (and copies of their contracts) with me.

    Naturally, I am willing to discuss my aims and motivation for this somewhat opaque request.

    For starters, please have a look here: oebaccountability.com and here http://oebaccountability.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/can-ontarians-count-on-the-ontario-energy-board-to-defend-their-interests1.pdf

    The research project bears on the OEB’s oversight of the MPMA/BPP/ONPA/OPG rebate program(s) that ran from 2002-2009 (the period mentioned above) and – by way of providing focus and concreteness – is looking at Direct Energy’s conduct in relation to the rebate legislation and OEB’s enforcement and compliance activities in relation to that conduct.

    If you are interested in further interaction with me on this topic, please feel free to email me at cthomsonrwc@gmail.com.

  1. Canadian Personal Finance Blog » Blog Archive » Random Thoughts
  2. Direct Energy and Other Energy Plans | Twenty Answers

Leave a comment