Summitt Energy nailed for $495,000 penalty

My least favourite company these days is Summitt Energy. Rarely a day goes by when someone doesn’t tell me about being tricked into buying gas or electricity by its aggressive and deceptive door-to-door salespeople.

A constant theme in these complaints is impersonation. Summitt salespeople pretend to be anyone else than Summitt salespeople. They’re from Enbridge Gas, they suggest, or from the local hydro utility.

Moreover, Summitt agents don’t leave customers a copy of the contract when they depart. Later, Summitt’s compliance people say customers agreed to go ahead on the reaffirmation call. But what are they agreeing to if they don’t have the paperwork?

Finally, the Ontario Energy Board — hearing the same complaints I did — had enough. It’s asking the company to pay a fine of $495,000 for breaking the rules. And it intends to suspend Summitt’s license until it behaves properly.

I’m glad the regulatory agency is using its power to discipline a rogue energy seller.

There are fascinating case studies in the OEB charges.

In Ayr, Ont., an agent called MG told a couple he was offering a price cap for gas. If the gas price went down, so would the contract price. FALSE.

He told them the current market price for gas was 41.9 cents a cubic metre. FALSE. (It’s 21 cents now and was even less a year ago when this happened.)

He asked them to sign a document, but didn’t tell them it was a five-year contract to supply both gas and electricity.

He didn’t provide a copy of the contract’s terms and conditions, nor was it ever delivered to the customers.

MG visited a person in Milton, Ont. this January and said he represented Union Gas. He said there was a mix-up in names and she had to re-register for the supply of gas.

As before, he sold her both gas and electricity, without saying it was a five-year contract or letting her see exactly what she was signing.

There are six more examples of MG’s duplicity, as well as multiple transgressions by GW, GS, AB and AT.

The regulator must have hired private detectives to follow these guys around. It has proved that many Summitt agents told lies from the beginning to the end of their visits and made fools of their victims.

Good work, Ontario Energy Board. It’s about time.

P.S. The administrative charges and penalty were cut to $299,000 later after a hearing.

Author: Ellen Roseman

Consumer advocate and personal finance author and instructor.

82 thoughts on “Summitt Energy nailed for $495,000 penalty”

  1. For all you brainless people out there, Enbridge is only in charge of the billing!

    Here’s a little helpful information that may or may not (a) make you feel like an idiot (b) help you see the bigger picture.

    Why Enbridge may visi your home:

    -Read, exchange or relocate your gas meter
    -Complete construction work on your gas pipes
    -Provide free energy-saving tools such as faucet aerators, fluorescent light bulbs and low flow energy-efficient showerheads for self installation

    What Enbridge doesn’t do:

    -Sell, rent or service water heaters
    -Sell, rent, install or service natural gas furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, pool heaters, barbecues or other appliances
    -Sell environmental initiatives, such as carbon offsets
    -Finance contracts for energy services
    -Sell natural gas supply contracts

    So there you have it, Enbridge has nothing to do with these rental companies, except to process the billing for you guys.

    Summitt Energy is just a simple company, similar to Direct Energy that allows you to rent hot water tanks, furnaces etc. Summitt is replacing old hot water tanks for new efficient Energy Star tanks for approximately the same fee as you were paying before. Both Summitt and Direct Energy get their billing done by Enbridge. Capiche?

    Let’s say you decide to call the one of the following because you’re confused…

    (1) Enbridge: Since they are basically only in charge of the billing, they probably won’t understand why you’re calling in the first place. They will probably just tell you to stay with your current company to make things short/shut you up.

    (2) Direct Energy: Summitt is taking Direct Energy’s business when switching tanks. Direct Energy reuses older tanks instead of giving you the new efficient ones, so that’s why people are switching to Summitt. Please tell me why in the world would Direct Energy tell you to switch over to Summitt? They are in competition, just like every other company in this world. Duh.

    Clearly, Summitt Energy has it flaws, as do other companies, but it is NOT a scam. I believe the problem is that some of the employees hired don’t completely know what they are talking about or are getting their information mixed up. They don’t purposely give you false information, although this does become an issue when you are lacking knowledge in this field as well.

    Yes, door-to-door sales people are annoying. I concur. However, these people are only doing their job. They need the money. Just say you’re not interested.

    You really think people enjoy getting doors slammed in their face, or worse, getting attacked? The answer is no.

    Unfortunately, the real scams out there are making Summitt’s job even more difficult every day.

    For those of you who go out of your way to make these working people feel miserable because you aren’t happy with your own lives.. I think it’s safe to say you are quite amusing and pathetic.

  2. They came to my house in 2010 and my brother (who was living in the basement as a tenant) was made to sign a contract with them saying its just a formality and they have to do it as a new homeowner.

    They didn’t provide any information regarding the contract that it is for 5 years or any other thing regarding the charges and from that time onwards they started charging me every month in my hydro and enbridge bill.

    Now recently I moved to a new address and cancelled my previous account with hydro and enbridge and now they are sending me statements that I owe money to them since I broke the contract and didn’t inform them before the move.

    They have not left me any contract terms to read also.

    Any idea of how can I get rid of this charge or fight against them ?

    Thanks in advance !!

  3. Two years ago, I signed a contract with Summitt Energy. The salesperson told me that they are the same group of Enbridge.

    I would receive the bill from Enbridge monthly and no change on the payment method. If I wanted to cancel the contract, that would only take one month notice with them and without any penalty.

    I received a bill from Enbridge recently, but they charged me back from Aug. 4, 2011, to June 18, 2012, for a gas adjustment of $346.71 more. I moved to this house on Aug 4, 2011.

    I called Enbridge, which said that is the different rate charged from Summitt Energy. (The previous bills were applied from Enbridge’s gas rate.)

    In conclusion, I need to pay almost 40% more gas charges monthly. I called Summitt Energy to cancel the service, but they told me I need to pay $63 plus tax for penalty, as I signed a 5 years contract.

    That is wrong, the salesperson from Summitt Energy never said that the contract is for 5 years.

    I felt disappointed and sad why that happened in here.

  4. Despite the penalty it seems they haven’t stopped their practices.

    I had a deceptive salesperson at the door today, complete with an Enbridge bill mockup and a story full of deceptions.

    I almost felt happy when he called me a fool as he left. It told me I had done the right thing.

  5. I just got an agent of theirs coming to my door and claiming to be from Fortis BC. She told a series of lies to con me into signing a “document” to change my gas price with Fortis BC.

    When I asked why I couldn’t do it simply by phone with Fortis BC, she claimed that this was an in-person thing only, which totally tipped me off. I told her I wasn’t interested and closed the door.

  6. What is the difference between Summitt Home Services and Summitt Energy?

    I just signed a contract yesterday for an Energy Star hot water tank to replace a 4-year old one, for which I pay rental to Direct Energy. The rental fee is to stay the same and billing will still be through my Enbridge gas bill.

    They were pretty quick to schedule an installation time. The sales rep says he is a law student in Ottawa and was very clean-cut and polite. He did not seem like a so-called sleazy salesperson.

    Since it was a weekday, I should have asked why he wasn’t in class, although I did wonder.

    Have I been scammed? How will I know if the rental cost from Direct is cancelled? I didn’t think of that until today.

  7. Hi Pat, Summitt sells energy contracts door to door. But it also sells home services, such as water heater rentals and carbon offset plans.

    You’re supposed to get a 10-day cooling off period to cancel without penalty. But companies like Summitt install the water heater quickly, hoping to intimidate you by saying you have to pay for removal if you change your mind, even duirng during the 10-day cooling off period.

    You have to call Direct Energy to find out how to return the old tank and make sure it is returned. You can’t trust Summitt to do it for you.

    I often hear from people who agree to switch and then get billed by both companies for months because the old tank wasn’t returned as promised.

  8. Hi Ellen,

    We signed up for a Summitt Energy contract in Dec. 2010, when time of use billing was not yet available in our area (Mississauga, ON).

    We agreed to a flat rate of 7.9 cents per kilowatt hour, which was lower than the medium and peak rate of Enersource.

    The guys who confirmed with us on the phone said that once time of use comes into effect by Enersource, there will be a Global Adjustment charge or credit by Enersource, depending on the rates at that time.

    We moved residences in Mississauga in June 2011. Just around that time, the Global Adjustment charge started coming into effect on our bill.

    We didn’t really notice how high our bill had gone until we got a charge for over $500 this summer.

    On going through the bill, we realized that the Global Adjustment charge was an additional 5 cents per KWH. That increases our flat rate to around 12.9 cents, which is even higher than the peak rate of Enersource (around 10-11 cents).

    I would like to cancel, but the cancellation clause in our agreement takes into consideration loss of business and average billing and works to about $600, as told to us by Summitt Energy.

    Last year, they changed their cancellation policy to a flat $50 for every year left in the contract. I have 3 years left. I don’t mind paying the $150 just to get out of this contract.

    Is there any way I can get them to charge me this new cancellation fee and not what was in my contract?

    Unfortunately, we were new to this and stupidly got conned, since we seem to have agreed to everything in the phone confirmation they sent us.

  9. So I had Dan and his stooge assistant come to my door on the weekend. They informed me that they were there to look at my carbon usage. I asked what the hell he was talking about.

    He stated that I had agreed to a carbon credit agreement 7 months ago. I told him that was impossible because I always sent door to door guys away.

    He stated that it was on my bill and that he would be happy to show me on my gas bill. I told him to go to hell.

    He asked me why I would say such a thing. I explained to him that he was a douche bag and should be ashamed of himself for being an obvious thief.

    He then stated that he would have my gas shut off. I asked if that was a threat. He said that I would see in two days.

    I then told him that I was calling the police for threatening me. I got the phone went outside and talked to the police while he bugged my neighbour.

    Since my neighbour and I get along, I went over and warned him that they were trying to rip him off. While I talked to the police, my neighbour was showing the scumbags his gas bill.

    With the police on the line, I asked my neighbour why he was showing them the bill. He answered I was told that I had to to ensure I was getting my carbon credit.

    The police suddenly became very interested and asked me to pass the phone to the scum. After a few hems and oks from the scum, I got the phone back and the police asked me what the men were doing. I said they were leaving rather quickly. The police had asked them to stay while a cruiser would be over immediately.

    Fortunately, the scumbag gave a business card to my neighbour. The police now have it in their possession.

    It is a criminal offence to misrepresent yourself and to request personal information under false pretenses. From now on, when these guys come to the door, I’m going to video the whole event.

  10. Add Summitt Energy to the group of jackwagons that come to the door trying to make money any way they can.

    Just like Ontario Consumers trying to tell me they’re replacing water heaters on the street or saying they have to inspect your water heater. Best thing to do is say ‘no thanks.’

    I don’t conduct business at my doorstep. The annoying thing is most of these companies try to prey on the elderly, which IMHO is pretty damn low.

  11. Last evening, I came home to find two guys already in my house. They were completely successful in convincing my wife to have our water heater changed.

    Even when I showed some anxiety at their presence inside, my wife was already so convinced that even she tried to make me convinced of their objectives of changing the water heater.

    I had some suspicion in the first place, so today I tried to do some research about the company. I found our story similar to exactly what people were saying here over the last two years. I am glad that I was able to cancel the contract right away.

    In brief, these guys should never be allowed to enter your house, no matter what happens. They keep running around because still there are a few innocent people who regularly become their victims.

    Please spread your messages as broadly as possible.

    I may contact government agencies to look into these scams. God bless Canada.

  12. I just called Summitt Energy and they told me their 5 year contract for 24-hour fixed rate pricing is 5.99¢/KWH.

    The rate from Ottawa Hydro is currently 6.3¢/KWH for off peak; 9.9¢/KWH for mid peak and 11.8¢/KWH for on peak.

    The tiered rates for Summitt are respectively 4.99, 6.99 and 8.99 cents/KWH.

    Am I missing something here?

  13. I have a few words for the public. You think it’s bad enough they scam their customers, but they even scam their independent contractors.

    They don’t pay them and slave drive them. The worst office is in Ottawa downtown on Metcalfe St.

    They force employees to “be ruthless” and say whatever you have to say to get in the door.

    They withhold paycheques and just take random things off their paycheques without anything in writing. It is outright disgusting!

  14. One of the dirtiest tricks is their auto-renewal policy.

    They send you a package and to avoid auto-renewal, you have to sign and send it back. You have to opt out or they can keep on billing you.

    I am convinced I never received this package. To put this in perspective, I have every bill, every credit card statement, every tax return for both my wife and me going back to when we were first married over a decade ago.

    And I missed their package in the mail? I DON’T think so!

  15. I bought an investment home in 2009. Summitt Energy showed up at that house (without mentioning who they represented) almost immediately, like they were watching. My guess is that they are on the lookout for “SOLD” signs.

    Thinking that it was common procedure for new owners, I signed. Now I am selling that house & the closing date is May 30, 2013.

    Guess what? I received a voicemail message to call Summitt Energy to discuss my contract with them. Two options were offered to me:

    #1: I pay the penalty of $170
    or #2: I transfer the contract to my home.

    I will be advising my lawyer of this & take it from there.

    Watch out new home owner, we are targeted!!!!!!!!!

  16. I’ve just received a Summitt Energy application (12 pages long) with a Visa card worth $100, this crazy and confusing.
    Stating that my Current Elec. price is 8.98 cents/kWh and New Renewal price 5.99 cents/kWh for 5 years / Savings of 33%. I keep asking myself “Why am I receiving this garbage?

    I’v noticed this article is outdated. It would be great to do another article about this non-sense.

    Thank you. Great article

    P.S. I’m still waiting for the Natural Gas gap @ 1.46 to be filled.

  17. a member of the energy summit just knocked at my door at 9 in the evening. I said I was not interested he said it was going up 55% probably on my next bill. I said I did not hear anything he smirked and said they wont tell you to after. I said I am with Union gas he said ya we supply them. told him I know someone who signed up for something like this and it ended up costing them more and then there was a large cancellation fee. he was a cocky person. and coming to my door and banging as hard as he did . not impressed at all. who does business door to door that time of the night. tsk tsk..

  18. Right after I sold my house in Durham, Summitt came to the door insisting that they represented Enbridge. I had to re-sign my contract with Enbridge because of price changes and I had to sign through them.

    When I told them I was moving in 2 days, they said if I refused they would shut off the power and the house sale would be made invalid.

    I signed after being bullied (they pushed into my condo and demanded my bills) and then contacted my lawyer, who cancelled the contract.

    A year later, I have now been served with a huge bill because I have apparently “run from services owed”.

    However, neither the credit agency on the lawyer’s letter nor the lawyer’s office itself seems to be real.

    Apparently they have done this to a number of people in Ajax and Pickering, Ont.

    I have contacted Enbridge, which said they get constant calls from people who have been told similar stories by Summitt representatives.


  19. Just now a rep from Summitt Energy tricked me into signing a 5-year protection plan agreement by telling me that she was to make sure the utility bills were issued with correct amount.

    She said that they were like headquarters and the utility distribution companies are like branches. I signed.

    After she left, I felt not at peace and began to google Summitt Energy and found this website. I just made a phone call to them and cancelled the agreement.

    Anyone who can tell me whether I need to do more to confirm the cancellation? Many thanks.

  20. I worked for Summitt for about a week.

    The rates we were selling actually weren’t all that bad, more or less market average, and a set amount per dollar was used for local reforestation.

    Company literature said something like “59% of people saved money over the year previous”. I have done my own estimates, and if you aren’t heating your house during the summer, you probably are saving money.

    Turns out I was pretty bad at it, though, since I’m neither pushy nor dishonest.

    During training we were told not to lie and there could be penalties. However, my manager would outright lie and deceive.

    He would tell customers that 100% of customers save money. He used deregulation to suggest that the government had sent him. He used scare tactics. Guy made about $1,000 a day…

    I do know that we always left a copy of the contract with the customer. Also, the confirmation call process was quite strict (although this manager had ways of getting around some of the protections it was supposed to ensure).

    I’ve never had a job that made me hate myself so much.

  21. Someone from Summitt just came to my door in the Lincoln Fields area asking to see my hydro and gas bills. She claimed hydro and gas company had just upped the charges by 45 percent because of the cold winter but they were not allowed to do this. When I asked for further explanation things got dodgy. I could not figure out what she wanted me to sign. I’m a lawyer so usually this is not a problem! I asked her to leave the materials with me so I could review and figure it out. She said she couldn’t do that but if I signed up I could cancel within 45 days. I said I was not going to sign something I did not understand and she told me to have a nice evening and left. Unbelievable this stuff goes on and is not stopped by the government regulator!!!

  22. I live in east end Ottawa. I have read comments from many of the ‘victims’ of Summitt Home Services.

    Unfortunately, I am one of them, having signed agreements for the rental of a water heater (June 2013) as well as a gas furnace and a/c (March 2014).

    The selling tactics used by this guy are exactly the same mentioned in all of the comments.

    Two weeks ago, this same guy (MH) popped at my door like popcorn -without a prior phone call or any advance notice.

    He wanted to follow up about the installation of the equipment, the new a/c that was installed in March, which obviously could not be set properly at that time because it was the coldest day of the winter.

    I told him that I did not get anything from Summitt informing me he would be coming. He said there was a letter with my gas bill about this purpose.

    I then answered that I did get a letter in the mail from Summit, telling me that the maintenance of the equipment would be done from now on by Reliance.

    Then, he introduced me to a guy from Reliance Home Heating and Cooling and told me to contact them if I had maintenance issues about my equipment.

    Later last week, I tried my newly installed air conditioner and realized it was not cooling at all. Reliance came to look at it. The guy was here for 2 hours fixing this new air conditioner and told me to monitor its functioning, which I did.

    As I was not satisfied, I called Reliance again and another guy came last Saturday to check it again.

    Last Tuesday, I left a phone message for MH (my contact person at Summitt) about my AC equipment. He never returned my call.

    Now that Summitt has my business, they do not care any more about the equipment they installed and are getting my money for it.

    As I am very unhappy with Summitt Home Services, I would like to cancel my contracts to rent the 3 pieces of equipment from them. But the 10 day period is now over for all of them.

    My only alternative is to pay a very high penalty if I cancel. I contacted the Ontario Energy Board and await their suggestions.

    By reading all the complaints about this company, I hope with all my heart that the OEB regulator will do something about this company…

  23. Summitt Energy scammed me. I need to know how I can break the contract with no penalty fees. The only reason they came to my door was for price protection, with no carbon offset.

  24. Summitt Energy has sent me bill for $226. I don’t even know why, since I have not been provided with any bills or contracts, just a collection notice.

    I did talk to their sales agents when they came to my shop, but when they called to confirm we did not reach an agreement at all. I assumed everything was void at that time.

    Can they actually ruin my credit even though they are after my corporation? What steps should I take to fight with them?

    Thanks everyone.

  25. I need Summitt email address and fax number I AM FILING A COMPLAINT FOR overcharging and misrepresentation. Any advice?

    Thanks in advance.

  26. I have lived at my parents’ home since July 2006. I was helping care for my invalid mother and now I’m there because my dad is nearly 94 and should not live alone. While he is amazingly fit for his age, both physically and mentally, there are times when he has memory lapses or gets confused.

    He asked me to help him with his Enbridge bill as he couldn’t understand all the charges. He rents a furnace and a water heater from National Home Services and has a Heating Protection Plan from Direct Energy. They call in the spring and the summer to make an appointment for a maintenance check and servicing on the furnace and water heater.

    Dad had an air conditioner which he owned outright and he had a Cooling Plan with Summitt Energy supposedly for servicing/maintenance. I don’t recall a phone call from Summitt at any time to book an appointment for servicing the unit. If there was a problem with it, Dad or someone in the family would call to ask them to come and look at it.

    The a/c broke down during the summer of 2013 and since it was nearing the end of summer, we just went without for the duration. When the service guy from National came at the end of the winter to do maintenance on the furnace, he checked the a/c for us, even though it wasn’t on their plan.

    He said the unit was no longer repairable and advised us to replace it it. We replaced it with a rental unit from Ontario Energy Group, installed Aug 15, 2014.

    At the beginning of October, when he was going to send the payment for his September billing, my dad asked me to look at his bill as he didn’t really understand it.

    In August, he had decided to replace his air conditioner with a rental from Ontario Energy Group and this agreement has a built-in service contract. So they informed us that the Service Agreement with Summitt Energy was actually duplicating theirs and was unnecessary.

    We attempted to cancel the Summitt Cooling Plan. They said my father would have to pay a ‘cancellation fee’ before he could have the monthly charge removed from his Enbridge bill.

    They supposedly sent out a cancellation letter and bill for $100 plus tax on Oct 14th and again on Dec 8th. My dad says he didn’t receive either of them and the charges continue.

    I have just spoken with them and asked them to send this cancellation letter and bill via email to me and I will have dad send in the required ‘penalty’. They said ‘oh yes this was an option and I would receive the email within the next 24-48 hours.’

    Really? In this computer age, it takes that long to send an email? And why was I told in October and in December that the cancellation can’t be handled by email, only by mail?

    Now in January, they can do it that way after my dad has continued to pay nearly $17 each month for a useless service. To a senior of retirement income, $17 a month is a lot to spend for nothing!

    My biggest objection is that they preyed on a retiree, even though in the years he had this so-called service agreement they didn’t actually do any real servicing of the unit they were ‘protecting’.

    Is there a recourse for him to get reimbursed for non-compliance? or someone I can call to with a complaint, like the Ontario Energy Board or another government ‘watchdog’ agency?

    I’m also wondering if Direct Energy and their Heating Protection Plan is the same situation, since the rented furnace and water heater are actually being serviced by National who own the units. I guess I’m going to have to spend another few hours of frustrating phone calls to get to the bottom of that!

    Is there some way to effectively protect seniors from getting caught up into these schemes?

  27. My furnace stopped working about 3 weeks ago, so I called Summitt to come and see if they could fix it. I have been paying them $19.99 + HST for 3 years for this service.

    The agent on the phone was named Relly. At first he was nice, sent a tech here to have a look. The tech’s name was Jay. If he shows up at your door, don’t let him in.

    He came into my home and went directly to the bathroom. Then he opened my furnace door, put his tester on 2 wires and told me my furnace wasn’t working because my ducts were dirty (he did not look in the ducts).

    ANYONE who knows ANYTHING about furnaces KNOWS that the ducts have absolutely nothing to do with your furnace shutting down. The ducts control the amount of air flow from the furnace to your home.

    We opened the ducts when he left and guess what? ABSOLUTELY nothing in them, save for a tiny amount of dust. By tiny, I mean it barely coated my fingers.

    I called back and spoke with Relly yet again. I told him the furnace still wasn’t working and the tech had left. He told me the tech would not come back until I had my ducts cleaned because that was the problem.

    I then called an outside company that had nothing to do with Summitt. They couldn’t come until the next day. We went all day and night with no heat at all.

    The tech opened my furnace, looked at the code the furnace was displaying and proceeded to clean the dirty pipe that collects the water from the furnace gas. Within 20 minutes, my furnace was fixed and working properly again. This cost me $84.75.

    I just called Summitt to have my Home Service cancelled and you guessed it. I got Relly yet again. He told me that I have to pay $100 to cancel the service and if I don’t, they will send me to collections.

    So not only am I out the $84.75 to fix my furnace, they now want me to pay $100 to get out of a service they don’t provide. How is this even legal??

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