Quick turnaround on complaints in the new year

January 7 2009 by Ellen Roseman

Maybe it’s because people are full of energy and New Year’s resolutions. Maybe it’s because they shop and travel more during the holidays.

But I’ve seen a surge of complaints and I’ve also seen a number of them resolved quickly.

Here are highlights of my recent efforts to right the wrongs that consumers face.

18 comments

  1. John Kleingebbinck

    Jan 21 2009

    I bought a Whirlpool GHW9150P Washer back in November 2007. I have had three service calls during the 1 year warranty.

    Now that the warranty has ended, I am again having error codes on this machine. The customer service rep (CSR) at Whirlpool said a service tech must come and diagnose the problem. However, being past the warranty period, this would cost over $80.

    At this time, I am not prepared to pay more money into this lemon of a washing machine. When pressed to see if Whirlpool valued its customer loyalty, the CSR repeated the same canned response, it must be looked at by a service tech.

    I thought Whirlpool had good products and service, but this situation leaves me likely to never buy Whirlpool again. Unfortunately, they have a majority market share in appliance sales.

  2. Dennis Chan

    Mar 18 2009

    My wife and I just moved into my new townhouse in Vancouver in January. We made a similar mistake that JB made to sign up for a 5 year gas price protection contract with Summitt Energy.

    The difference is that the guy from Summitt Energy said the form we were about to sign was a disclosure form which allowed them to get the gas usage and price information from Terasen Gas. So my wife signed it and didn’t pay too much attention to the form. He told us that there would be a call later from his company to let us decide whether we were going to switch to them.

    After a couple of days, my wife got a call from Summitt Enegry and she was asked the following questions:

    Rep: Did someone from Summitt Energy come to tell you about the program?
    Wife: Yes.

    Rep: Do you know this is a voluntary program?
    Wife: Yes (she was thinking about the program to get information from Terasen Gas).

    Rep: Is your address xxx?
    Wife: Yes.

    Rep: That’s all we need. Thank you.

    According to my recent research on Summitt Energy, that was a confirmation call about the agreement — but clearly there was no indication that this was a confirmation about the agreement.

    In February, we got a letter from Terasen that our gas supplier would be Summitt Energy if we did not reply after 10 days.

    Unfortunately, we only got this letter after the 10 day period. We then called Terasen Gas to say we didn’t want to switch, but they said we have to deal with Summitt Energy directly as the 10 days have been passed.

    So we called Summitt Energy and they said we have signed the agreement and reconfirmed over the phone, so there is nothing they can do. If we want to cancel the contract, we will have to pay a $400 penalty.

    My wife and I felt we were being tricked. We would like to cancel the contract without paying the penalty. We didn’t want to switch in the first place. We do not know what to do now. Would you able to help us?

    Thanks,
    Dennis

  3. Dennis Chan

    Mar 25 2009

    Thank you so much, Ellen. I just got the email from Summitt Energy that they will cancel the contract without penalty.

    You are the best !!

  4. Sumathi Badappa

    Aug 27 2009

    Just like JB and Denis mentioned, I am having sleepless nights for getting into some mess like this just by being totally mislead. It’s the same Summit Energy gas protection plan agreement false prey.

    My husband and I are fairly new to Canada and bought our first home in Milton, ON on July 9th, 2009 after years of struggle and hard work. It was a dream come true by sustaining to our jobs in this recession time and being able to afford a home to start a family there but after signing the registration form and affirming to the phone call by being totally mislead by unclear and fake information provided by agent at door and on phone, our peace of mind at home is totally gone. We are very much worried and concerned about getting out of this whole mess without getting penalised
    ..
    It was Aug 15th – Sat afternoon that the doorbell rang thrice.
    I usually don’t open the door for any stranger. I was very sceptical to open the door and asked where he was from. He showed me Reliance company badge and said he was from our utility company. At that point of time,. We just had paid our first month’s bill to Union gas online and not even received a bill from reliance home comfort.
    First thing he asked was if I had not received any starter package from our utility company and confirmed about the name of our previous owners. He had all the data of our move date, previous owner information. I said no we haven’t received any package. He acknowledged to that and said that’s why I was not expecting him otherwise I would have known from the letter in package what time and date he would show up. I even apologized to him for being rude not to open door for him initially not knowing that he was genuinely not from our energy company. I infact started telling him what a hard time I had setting up account online with union gas and paying our first month bill which was not showing up online. He said oh yes, make sure you pay the bill going to bank if your bill is not showing up online and informed that system is not smart enough to know that we had moved and would have already generated bill.
    He then proceeded telling me that our previous owners had signed for a protection plan with the utility company by paying 300$ for 5 years and that it is good for 2 more years and wanted signatures and confirmation to take over and continue with that plan without any obligations.. When asked what the protection does, he explained to me that since I had not received first utility bill yet he would not be able to show me the difference in the price chart and showed me some data for previous years where Energy savings was huge by getting into this plan.
    He then proceeded telling me that it’s a peace of mind agreement that the energy company had with the govt of Canada for controlling the gas price per cubic meter and enables us to receive rebates from govt. He said if you have to take contract it will cost us but that I was lucky that our previous owners had this already so he mentioned that we could continue with no obligations. Then he asked for my account number that I had used to set up account for gas and took a signature on a form to confirm moving forward with the agreement that previous owners had. He then handed over a copy of the registration form that I signed along with a paper pamphlet of Summit Energy advertisement.
    He left saying that we should expect a starter package by them, which will have instructions to check if our furnace and hot water tank is intact. He said it will have very simple instructions to check the condition of the furnace and then we are supposed to sign that document and mail them back the condition so that they can put it in their records. He also mentioned that he would be informing about a rebate from govt for taking this plan and asked me to have a paper and pen handy when the person comes.
    On Aug 25th evening when I was in GO train, received a call and this was our conversation
    1) Hello this is so and so from Energy Company Am I talking to so and so.
    I said yes
    2) Did a rep come the other day to get docs signed?
    My answer was yes
    2) I questioned him back telling which company are you from. Reliance or Union gas?
    3) He said no we are from Summit Energy. He asked if I received any document from agent.
    I said yes. But knew something was not right since I remember that person showing me reliance badge.
    4) Asked him about rebate and he said no its not from us but its from govt.
    At that time since I was in Go train and asked him to call me back after 30 mins as I had lot of disturbance around me with people talking. He said it’s only another few minutes just have to confirm .if you are Ok with the agreement. Yes or NO.
    For which I said yes, thinking that it’s the same agreement he had mentioned which we were continuing from our previous owners.
    He said thanks and hung up

    When I came home and informed my husband, he said even he had got a call from same person few mins back and he clearly rejected the deal since they sounded suspicious. That’s when we looked thru the document and researched and found out that it was confirmation for a 5-year agreement to transfer our Union gas and Hydro to Summit Energy. Infact all the hyrdo and gas account is in my husband’s name and not mine . They are just holding me accountable because I said YES on a recorded phone call which was totally not clear . They have not even even sent a customer agreement and cancellation policy with terms and conditions and say that I am bound on a contract.
    What a big scam! How can people just come to a door step and lie that he is from some other company and give information to people which is false and get them sign a contract without even giving them a contract term and conditions.
    The code of conduct as they mention was just broken at my door and that is the source for the entire problem. I would not have agreed into a contract had my rights not been violated.
    How can a person be responsible for a contract and be bided to that by having gotten mislead to sign on a registration form without officially having a contract of cancellation policy given to us or signed by us.
    We called Summit Energy on Aug 26th after we found out more and they don’t seem to cancel our contract. They are informing that we will be a penalty. . Though we tell them we are not interested they are holding us responsible for saying “ YES” in the telephonic conversation and was informed that have taken over our gas and hydro from December and if we have to get out the contract we have to pay penalty specified by them.
    We have also faxed a copy of letter requesting Summit to cancel the contract without penalty based on the lines which does not abide by the fair marketing practises highlighted by the Ontario Energy Board
    We have been spending sleepless nights trying to figure out how to get out of this mess and get us out of the contract without getting penalised.
    Its totally not fare to give a person wrong information that too for a first time home buyer who is totally new to everything and get us bound to a contract for which we are not interested in and which we are not aware of..
    We are pretty new to Canada and consider it a absolutely safe home n environment to stay. These kinds of frauds should be brought to people’s attention so that they stay away from this utter mess. Government should really take action against these companies who are ruining other’s peace of mind for their gain. Totally unfair.
    Please and please help me cancel this contract without any penalty!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Greatly appreciated in advance.

    NOTE: Summit reference number for the registration formed signed on Aug 15th is F949715

  5. Sumathi Badappa

    Sep 15 2009

    Hi Ellen,

    Just received the letter from Summitt that they will cancel the contract without penalty. I really wanted to thank you for taking care of this for us. You’re just amazing and simply the best! You really don’t know how thankful I am to you at this point. Such a great relief for both my husband and myself.

    I will definitely be extra careful from now before signing any document. A big lesson learnt and I have to mention this that this issue would not have been resolved without you. I am glad I came across your website and your contact.

    Below is the email I received from Summit Energy:

    Dear Ellen and Sumathi Badappa:

    I am writing to advise you that your contract is being canceled without penalty.

    A drop request will be sent to your utility.

    The utility will set the drop date.

    Please contact our customer service department for the effective drop date at 1-877-222-9520.

    Regards,

    Gaetana Girardi
    Director, Compliance & Regulatory Affairs

  6. Becky Choi

    Oct 2 2009

    Hi Ellen, here is an email I wrote to the CEO of Telus Mobility and it is still not being resolved:

    Good evening Mr Entwistle,

    Before I begin let me introduce myself. My name is Becky and I recently dealt with Telus Mobility customer service and Futureshop on behalf of my younger sister to sign up for a Blackberry with voice and data service.

    I am very frustrated at the service and the attitude given to me by your staff at the customer service area as well as the retention department.

    Let me explain what happened to give you a background and I hope you will understand my point of view and the reason why I actually took time to search for you and to write you.

    1. On September 20th 2009 I went to the Futureshop at Kennedy and Lawrence (this is in Toronto Ontario) to purchase a Blackberry Curve 8310 with a 3 year contract on the student plan. The account i’m referring to is 416-817-XXXX (if you even plan to look into this for me at all, for I have given up on Telus and I will leave once my term is up and make sure my friends don’t ever sign up with Telus from now on).

    2. At Futureshop, I clearly asked the agent if the student plan includes personal email and they said yes. So I ported the number FROM Rogers TO Telus since my sister don’t have a contract with Rogers anymore.

    3. I went home very happy and my sister tried to setup the email accounts on the phone, only to find out that it doesn’t work so we called Telus customer service to see what’s wrong.

    4. The client care representative told us that our plan does not include email and if we want email we need to add $15 additional to the plan. We spent almost an hour on the phone with the representative and there was nothing they can do for us. Our options are cancel with Telus and go back to Rogers or stay with Telus and pay $15 more each month.

    5. I, Becky, currently uses Rogers Wireless and using a Blackberry as well. The plan I’m using with Rogers have everything that Telus’s student plan offers however it includes personal email. Therefore, I planned to switch my sister back to Rogers, which when I called them they offered me 1 month free service and an extra $50 credit to go back as a returning customer.

    6. I called Telus the next day and asked about their return policy. They told me I have 30 days to return it but I have to go back to the dealer I purchased the phone from.

    7. We went back to Futureshop and the agent there said they can take the phone back but we will be billed a cancellation fee of about $800. He said we should call customer service at Telus again to sort it out.

    8. I called Telus customer service and the first lady said the only thing she can do for me is to offer me a better plan with everything my sister wanted for almost the same price, and I know it is a deal that she is offering us. That plan included everything on the student plan PLUS unlimited email AND 500MB data and also voicemail and call display, according to Aziz from retention. (I spent 2 hours on the phone being put on hold and disconnected once just to get this sorted out)

    9. I asked Aziz at retention if there is any compensation we can get, even just to waive the $35 activation fee because we wasted our time on the phone AND travelling back and forth to and from Futureshop due to the Telus rep asking us to go back there. He was very unhelpful and rude and said that is the only thing we can offer and it was not “Telus’s” fault for selling the wrong plan to us.

    10. I was very frustrated already at that point because I did not hear any empathy from him for us to go through all this trouble just to get email working on a Blackberry phone.

    11. After arguing for a good 30 minutes, he said he will change the plan to the one he offered ($50 monthly, MY5, 250 minutes, call display, voicemail, unlimited evenings and weekends starting at 6pm, unlimited text message, unlimited email, and 500MB data) and he said “ok I will change it now bye”. And he hung up on me. I was furious at that point because I don’t even know when it takes effect and I did not get to confirm the plan details with him. He even threaten me that if I am going to call back and complain again he will not put that offer through for me. He needs me to “say” this issue has been resolved in order for him to put the order through.

    12. My sister and I got home and reset the phone to see if that data and email is working. It is working, thank god, however he took away the voicemail and call display. This means I have to call Telus once again tomorrow, the 5th time I have called within 2 weeks just to get a Blackberry working properly.

    This is what happened and I sincerely hope out of everyone at Telus, you would hear me out and help me with the situation. I feel that I was being passed around by Futureshop and Telus, both telling me I have to talk to the other party for resolution and caused unneccessary travel time and time spent on the phone.

    Also, the rudeness and getting hung up on did not help the matter. This is the cause of me bringing this to your attention. At this point I do not expect any sort of compensation because everyone I have talked to said “there is nothing we can do” and “accept the offer or go ahead and cancel and pay the cancellation fee”. All I want is my sister’s plan get sorted out to the way it was promised to me earlier this evening and an official apology from Telus for causing so much trouble and pain.

    I myself is working at management level at a corporate call centre too and I know this is not the way to treat a customer. And if this is the kind of service anyone else is getting, I am very extremely disappointed at this large enterprise, which I believed can resolve my concerns without all this trouble.

    Once again, I hope to hear from you, or hear from the appropriate person, if you still value me or my sister as your customer. I think this is at the least the respect that we deserve.

    Thank you for your time.

    Regards,
    Becky.

  7. Bernie N

    Dec 12 2009

    Hello Ellen,

    Good day, I seek your assistance on this 5 year contract with Summit Energy’s “Carbon Offset” program my wife unknowingly signed into.

    Basically I manage our household energy bills and my wife does’nt know anything about our energy bills.

    Last Oct 21, 2009 around 6 PM (beyond work hours), as per my wife (co-account holder), 2 pushy and aggressive male salesmen from Summit Energy loudly knocked at the front door. They did not properly identify themselves (my wife had the impression they were part/related to Enbridge) as well as was’nt able to explain the product in detail (my wife had the impression they were selling a green energy discount program of Enbridge). My wife asked for identification from the 2 salesmen and one of the salesmen called somebody and passed the cellphone to my wife, the person on the other end confirmed that the 2 salesmen are selling a valid product and they are part of Enbridge. Unfortunately, in my wife’s eagerness to get rid of the 2 pushy and aggresive male salesmen,they were able to convince my wife to sign in as they told her we would get big discounts and the created the impression that we are only among the few homeowners who have not signed in. What makes the matters worst the salesmen did not furnish my wife a copy of the contract.

    I know my wife has some shortcomings on the way the transaction was formalized but I must say she is really not familiar with what is going on around as we are just fairly new immigrants to Canada.

    On Dec 12, 2009, I got my Enbridge bill and found a $14.99 Carbon Offset charge. I immediately called Summit Energy customer service and told them I want to cancell the contract and they told me I would incurr $850 cancellation fees. I told them I did’nt want to be charged of the cancellation fees as my wife was was deceived into signing in and that she does’nt know anything about our energy bills as I do solely manage our energy bills.

    I went on Summit Energy’s website and search for the Carbon Offset product and find the the product details confusing. I don’t even hew we can benefit from it.

    We do’nt earn much and financially times are hard due to the current recession. Todate every single cent earned and spent counts and is certainly felt. The least we need now uneccesary expenses that would further drain our tight and dire financial situation.

    I went to your website and read a similar story last January 2009 from certain JB and Gaetana Girardi,Director, Complaince & Regulatory Affairs from Summit Energy was able to help.

    I had a sleepless night and I don’t know how to go about this problem. I hope you would be able to assist us on this pressing matter, thank you in advance and Season’s Greetings.

  8. Khalid

    Jan 11 2010

    Hi Ellen, a salesman came to my door last March and he told me he was from Toronto Hydro. He said that he just wants my signature that I am aware that my hydro and gas costs will remain the same and that he was here.

    After that, in November, I saw that Summitt Energy is my supplier for electricity and gas. I called them and they said that I signed a contract for 5 years.

    When I called them to cancel, they said I would have to pay $838 + gst for gas and $303 + gst for hydro. Please let me know how do I get rid of this things as I have been fooled by them.

  9. JD

    Jun 22 2010

    JT, if you really even work for Reliance Home Comfort, they are garbage and only a step up from those other places like Summitt. They call me constantly for the 15$ monthly fee regardless of whether it is due. Sometimes it’s just dead air, sometimes an automated message of “urgency”, and sometimes a threat of service disconnection OVER 15$ THAT ISNT EVEN DUE!

    Reliance Home Comfort are just Summitt energy scum with more customers and less door-to-door.