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.

260 comments

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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 #!!!

  6. 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.

  7. 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!!!

  8. 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???

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. jon biff

    Feb 5 2012

    the 24 hour service direct energy and enbridge have is bs….

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!!!!!

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. 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.
     
    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!
     

  22. 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.

  23. 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?????

  24. 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.

  25. 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?

  26. 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

  27. 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.

  28. barriefurnacerepair

    Dec 12 2012

    Here’s a video I made about DE…hope you like it 🙂

    http://youtu.be/JYnRyy8JzUI

  29. 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.

  30. 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

  31. 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.

  32. 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!!!!

  33. 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!

  34. 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.

  35. 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?

  36. 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?

  37. 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??

  38. 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?

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. Markie

    Jan 13 2015

    A Direct Energy doofus came to my door in Brooklyn and tried to put the rush on me to sign up. I said I wanted to research before. His counter was, “Wouldn’t it be easier to get it over with now?” Had to send him and his hench-woman packing.

  44. Angry

    Jan 28 2015

    I cannot believe this is legal. First of all, it’s not a 20 minute call to get hooked up for utilities. You have to be a mathematical wizard to figure out who’s the cheapest. Wow, too many options.

    So I go with the default option until someone comes to my door and makes me an offer. Sounded good until I got the bill.

    From Nov 1/2014 till today (Jan 28/15), my total bill is $1,300. Are you kidding me? This is robbery.

    It’s not even going to be my total once I’m ending the service. I had to give 30 days notice. I’m sick of going to work every day to pay for heat and water and lights and flushing toilets. I thought those were old days. Man, am I wrong.

    They bill you on the 13th and same month again on the 19th. Who does that? Twice a month, add a couple hundred more to the bill. I’m disgusted and don’t know where to turn.

  45. George

    Apr 1 2015

    Direct Energy sold off some of their assets in July 2014. The water heater business has changed hands and was sold to Enercare Home Services in July 2014. So much for the Ont. government’s bright idea of privatizing our energy companies!

    I rented a hot water tank from Enbridge 10 years ago. The deal is that you can continue with a NEW water heater (from Enercare) and continue with the rental or buy your own. I recommend you buy your own.

    When I called Enercare, I was transferred to a US call centre. They were rude when I explained I am not continuing to rent, but I will buy my own heater. They insisted that I owed them money.

    With this cold winter, I have not been able to get a new one installed, so now they called a collection agency! This company is headed for the trash heap.

    I warn all consumers: do not rent from them, do not do business with them. They will charge you more than if you bought your own water heater. This tank is going back to them.

  46. Charles

    Jun 24 2015

    Dear Ellen:

    My situation with Direct Energy is a little different. I had rented a house to a tenant who was paying utilities starting in 2012. I recently had to evict them because they had fallen behind more than three months rent. When I evicted them, I discovered that there was a new tankless water heater that had been installed.

    I thought surely a change of this magnitude (install a tankless heater) would require my permission. Because I had never given my permission to have the tankless installed, I assumed the tenant had bought it and had either installed it themselves or had a friend do it for them.

    When I went to sell the house, I told the potential buyers that the tankless was owned and accepted an offer which confirmed it was owned. I have since learned that the tenants had set up a rental agreement with Direct Energy.

    So now DE is demanding that I buy out the tank for $3,168.52 or they will uninstall it. Initially when I spoke with a supervisor (James in Trenton call centre, June 18), he told me that the agreement was with the tenant and they would pursue the tenant for the buyout, meaning that neither I nor the purchaser would be financially responsible for the unit. Since DE was going to pursue the tenant for the buyout, they would view it as purchased and thus they wouldn’t uninstall.

    I would like what I was initially promised to be honoured. Obviously time is of the essence to resolve this matter.

    P.S. I love the book that you published a few years ago. I bought a copy for each of my two kids. It has been great to start teaching them some financial concepts.

  47. calgary

    Jul 3 2015

    Because of their rude US call centre. Direct Energy just lost another customer.

    This blog goes on since 2008, I’m surprised they are still in business, but at least they get what they deserve.

  48. George Goulden

    Jul 28 2015

    A Direct Energy rep called us around the end of March 2015 and offered to upgrade our current plan by $5.29/month and get electrician and appliance repair service. We said OK.

    The billing was changed to $10.90 extra per month and they added a Heating Maintenance plan for $9.99, which was already included in the plan we had. This was not discussed at all. We also got billed an adjustment of $86.26 for this Heating Maintenance Plan!

    We have emailed customer service at Enbridge and the Ombudsman at Enbridge. They said if Direct Energy does not resolve this within 45 days, they will take the charges off their billing system and we have to deal with Direct Energy directly!

    Direct Energy said they will review the taped conversation and will have a supervisor call us. Someone called around the 45th day, but she had not listened to the taped conversation and said the conversation with the rep in March was deemed a signed contract.

    Since there was a dispute about what was agreed, she had to listen to the tape. She would not listen to us and threatened to send a collection agency. She eventually agreed to listen to the tape and call us. That was 1.5 weeks ago, but she has not called nor will she return our phone calls.

    The behaviour of Direct Energy is terrible. Enbridge won’t do anything. How can this be acceptable? They claim they are gas deliverers and only do the billing for Direct Energy. What do they gain by dealing with a company like Direct Energy? By their mere association with them, they are subtly endorsing them!

    How are we to have this resolved? I see many complaints in the media about Direct Energy, but nothing has changed. What does it take to have them fix this gouging of the customer? How are they getting away with this behaviour?