Deception at the door

January 30 2008 by Ellen Roseman

My column today was about salespeople going door to door and misrepresenting their product in order to get a signature on a long-term energy contract. This drew more response than anything I’ve written in a long while. I know it hit home because many readers told me they had exactly the same experience. Here are some of their stories below.

I have many questions that spring to mind:

–How can the Ontario Energy Board say, “the energy choice is yours,” when many people are not making informed choices? They don’t know where energy prices are going, so they rely on promises made at the door. And the contracts they sign are impossible to understand.

–Why do energy marketers employ salespeople who use such sleazy tactics?

–Why won’t the Ontario Energy Board levy fines against energy marketers that employ sleazy salespeople? It has the power to do so — and has done so in the past.

–How can these companies justify charging so much more than the utility rate in return for an illusion of saving money?

–How can the Ontario government allow marketers to sign up low-income people at prices that are up to double the utility rate? I’m sure this is causing great hardship for households living on tight budgets.

My final question: Should this opportunistic business be shut down? Whose interests are being served?

I know that consumers benefit if energy prices rise higher than the contract price. But this is a gamble, best undertaken by those who know what they’re doing. Maybe these contracts should be legal only if the consumer approaches the company, not vice versa.

108 comments

  1. LSR

    Jan 30 2008

    I read your column regularly, and thank you for all the advocacy you do! I wanted to tell you our experience with Direct Energy from 1997. It belies their claim that DE doesn’t train its agents to misrepresent their company.

    At that time we already had a contract with DE, buying gas for the tiny sum of 11 cents per cubic metre. I work at home, so I was there and very busy when the DE salesman came to the door. He wanted to sell a contract, but I told him we were already customers, whereupon he asked me to sign a sheet on
    his clipboard, “just to prove I was here.”

    Imagine our surprise at the next bill, when our fee was 18 cents instead of 11! When we contacted DE, I was told I had signed a new contract at the door.

    I was furious at the deception and spoke to several people up the authority line. One woman had the nerve to castigate me for not reading something before I signed it. I told her I didn’t expect to be cheated by a reputable company where I was already a client!

    We eventually got them to agree to lower the fee back to 11 cents for the remainder of that contract (about 3 more years, I believe). By this time we had already paid a couple of DE invoices, since these arguments were dragged out over a couple of months. I insisted that they reimburse us for the overcharge, and that took a few more angry phone calls. We eventually won all the arguments, but only after I spoke to a police officer at the fraud squad and threatened the DE folks with legal action.

    They are not a responsible, reputable supplier, no matter what their spokespeople might say. Thank you for the opportunity to tell this story. I had never complained publicly, though I probably should have. I was just too busy at the time.

  2. JM

    Jan 30 2008

    Thanks for a great and timely column. We had one of these marketers come to our door last week, saying he was “from Hydro” and that he’d need to see one of our bills to give us a rebate.

    I told him I wasn’t about to show him anything, and if he really was from Hydro, why wouldn’t he just look up my last payment on the company’s computer? He hummed and hawed and then tried to save us money “on your gas bill”. Quite a feat for a household that doesn’t even have a natural gas hookup.

    What really bothers me is that these marketers prey on people. A few years ago, two of them came by my house, offering again to save me money on my gas bill. They left when I told them I didn’t have natural gas. I didn’t think anything of it until I got a frantic call from my mother-in-law, who lived in the house beside us.

    These people went to her house at 9 p.m., in the dark — we live in the country, and people coming to your door at night in a rural area is very uncommon (and can be frightening for an elderly woman living alone). Her English was not good and she was obviously ill. They bullied her into producing her bills, and then signed her up for a rebate. We were able to cancel the contract, but other people may not be so lucky.

  3. AM

    Jan 30 2008

    This story about Jerry Andrews sounds almost exactly like the experience my father when through one year ago. A representive from the “gas company” showed up at his door claiming to be able to offer a rebate on his bill. All he had to do is show him a current bill and sign on the line (folded over contract). In this case, the ‘rep’ was actually wearing a photo ID badge that identified him as an Embridge employee, although this individual was careful not to say so himself.

    Turns out my dad signed a 5-year contract for a fixed-rate gas supply with Superior Energy. They cancelled the contract at
    first request. I also notified Embridge and the Energy Board of the fake ID but never got much followup except confirming the cancellation from Superior.

    What is the Energy Board’s use if it doesn’t slap the wrists of the 30 or so ‘gas’ companies out there when they use dirty tactics? It seems to me that deregulation has created a roaming band of shady door to door salesmen that just jump from company to company every so often. Those convicted of lying to get a signature should not be allowed to work in the business again. Period.

  4. GG

    Jan 30 2008

    It wasn’t until I saw your article that I realized how intense the sales pressure could be.

    In fact, a salesman representing a company called Summitt Energy came to our house last week at 8:30 in the midst of a busy evening. He got in the door by telling us we might be paying too much for our energy and that he could possibly help us if we could produce a copy of an energy bill from our current supplier. A half-hour of searching failed to turn one up.

    It wasn’t until he asked me to sign a contract that I discovered that he was selling, not helping.

    My wife and I have consequently instituted a new house rule: when they come knocking at night, leave a business card and/or phone us the next day.

    As an addendum, a few years ago a friend of ours answered an ad placed in the Etobicoke Guardian by Direct Energy for “Enumerators”. It turned out that the job entailed being loaded into a van with a number of other “Enumerators” and being driven to a specified location where you were to go door to door selling the Direct Energy brand of power.

    He took his resume and walked out, angry that his time had been wasted by a company that couldn’t even be honest about the type of job that was being advertised.

    Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to vent my spleen. I don’t generally write to newspapers, but this was catharctic.

  5. AR

    Jan 30 2008

    I was glad to see your column today, because:

    Last Thursday at dinnertime, an energy marketer representing Ontario Energy Savings, which had inherited my contract from Sunoco, came to the door to renew my 5-year deal. She claimed I had a 15-day window to renew at 36.9 cents, even though my agreement expires in October. She claimed that the open market price was 43 cents, not the 27 cents you indicated.

    I am currently paying too much at 31.5 cents, so I refused to sign. She then insisted I sign a receipt for her offer that was now good for 10 days, which was clearly a contract!

    I told her I had a Ph.D from the University of Chicago and that I could tell the difference between a receipt and a contract.

    Why are people who represent gas companies allowed to misrepresent and engage in fraudulent practices?

  6. BL

    Jan 30 2008

    Great article Ellen. In November, a girl came to my apartment door in Ottawa, knocked and said she was there to read my meter. No one has come to my door in eight years living in that apartment to read the meter. I knew it was a scam and opened the door.

    Checking her official looking badge attached to her belt, it turned out she was with Direct Energy. I told her she should be ashamed of herself for scamming people and closed the door. I’m sure she gained entry to a number of apartments this way and, with a number of new Canadians (my neighbour is Russian, only in Canada for two years) in the building, I’ll bet she got some new contracts that evening.

    Based on what you’ve written and my experience, I believe Direct Energy trains their salespeople to use devious practices to trick people into signing these contracts. They should be held accountable. You’d think the Better Business Bureau would issue an alert or something.

  7. AR

    Jan 30 2008

    I enjoyed reading your article on Direct Energy. I, too, had problems with the firm. I sold my house in Don Mills last August to move to southern France where I am actually living.

    In August, I received a letter from DE asking for $683.38 as my contract had not come to term. I gave one of their representatives a call, and after hearing about my move overseas, he told me that he would eliminate the charge.

    Last November, I got a letter from CGC (Collection Group of Canada Inc.) reminding me that I owed them $683.38 that I had to pay promptly or my credit rating would be affected. I wrote back explaining the situation and have not heard from them since.

    Shame on Direct Energy for not advising me that my account was now in the hands of a collection agency, which never replied to my letter. You may want to check the Collection Group of Canada record!

  8. DB

    Jan 30 2008

    I read your article this morning and had a similar situation in December. A young man was hovering outside when I returned home and he asked to see my Hydro bill to see if I was eligible for a rebate — he said I was and asked me to sign a paper to say he had been there.

    I insisted he let me read the paper first and it was a contract. I insisted he leave immediately.

    It appears that Direct Energy does promote these scams or else they would not be happening. I don’t think I will renew my heating and cooling plan with them now, as they do not appear trustworthy.

  9. PM

    Jan 30 2008

    I live in Toronto and recently had a Direct Energy representative try the same scam on me (i.e. asking to see my bill and saying I can get a rebate). I actually had my first initial on the form before I noticed the fine print.

    When I challenged the rep, he initially said I didn’t understand and then beat a hasty retreat.

    The Direct Energy representative you spoke to is either naive or hiding a bigger conspiracy with respect to their selling techniques. Obviously, if it happened in Pickering and in East York (where I live), it is probably happening all over the place. I lodged a complaint with the Ontario Energy Board, which I suspect went nowhere.

  10. LM

    Jan 30 2008

    After reading your article about about the deceptive practices of Direct Energy, I thought I would pass along my experience with them.

    About 10 years ago, living in another town, I responded to a knock on my door about 3 in the afternoon. The “gentleman” at the door advised he was canvassing for Direct Energy (no ID was apparent, nor did he show one). I advised him I would not sign a contract – especially a 5-year one. He asked to see my Consumers Gas bill; I did not show it to him. (I had been aware through the media, including The Star, of complaints about Direct Energy).

    After some high-pressure salesmanship, he finally accepted the fact I would not sign his contract. He then requested I sign his form to show that he had called at my door, so that he could be paid. Reluctantly, this I did; accepting his word that it was only so that he would paid for knocking at my door, and this was not the contract.

    Some time later while checking my gas bill, I discovered Direct Engergy’s name on it. I contacted Consumers Gas and was told that I had signed a contract with them. I told them I had not. Did Consumers have the contract? No they did not. They found out by a telephone call from Direct Energy. This did not seem to me to be a proper business practice and so I advised the representaive of my feelings about this.

    I then contacted Direct Energy. They could not locate me in their database by name, address and gas bill. I requested to speak to a supervisor. After a short discussion (which I heard over her open mike), she advised that all supervisors were in a meeting. I told her that if there was no contact by Monday (this being Friday), I would see them in court.

    No contact on Monday, and being a paralegal, I started to prepare my court documents. I sent a copy to the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations to make them aware of what Direct Energy was doing.

    However, the last laugh was on them. I signed in at 12 cents a cubic metre; the cost eventually had risen to over 22 cents a cube. I then received a notice and a $50 cheque from Direct Energy to cancel the contract and sign a new one. I had been forewarned of this follow-up practice – again through the media; and I did not. I still have their cheque (and my file on them) to this day.

    After 21 years working for the OPP and almost 2 years of working in the court system, I had seen all sorts of scams. I’m also a paralegal and advise my clients about such scams; if I could be taken in by this misrepresentation,
    then what about less sophisticated people?

    So when they come to the door (as does happen) or call me (I had a call from Direct Energy 2 weeks ago), I tell them in no uncertain terms I will not accept their contract and talk their ear off about my experience with their company.

    My apologies for being too long-winded. I do not normally send e-mails this long, but I felt you should hear my experience with Direct Energy. And even though they say their deceptive practices have ceased, I am not suprised to see they have not.

  11. MS

    Jan 30 2008

    I was delighted to see your article on cheating gas salespeople. Finally someone is speaking up about the unethical sales tactics used at the door and also by phone.

    Direct Energy takes the “high road” when confronted by
    these scams, but I believe they know full well what is going on. In my view, they should be penalized for their false representations. I have had Direct Energy reps come to my door with clearly phony Enbridge I.D. and demand to
    see my energy bill. This false impersonation should have Enbridge fuming and taking action. Similar demands to get my energy bill come regularly by phone.

    How do we stop this practice? I do not want to do business with any company that uses such unsavory tactics.

  12. LC

    Jan 30 2008

    In 2006, my father signed a contract with Universal Energy Corp. Because he is not fluent in English, he signed the contract not knowing or understanding that it was for five years.

    He doesn’t usually review his bills because the amount is automatically deducted from his bank. But this month, he decided to look at it closely and was very upset at the amount he had to pay (over $300). He brought it to my attention.

    I immediately telephoned Enbridge and they informed me that the gas supplier he signed up with charges a rate much higher than Enbridge. (It was approximately 43 cents. I don’t have the bill in front of me so I don’t know if that was the exact amount, but I do know it was over 40 cents.)

    I then called Universal Energy and they informed me that if my father was a senior, which he is (85 years old, it may be possible to get out of the contract. They suggested my father send a letter to Universal Energy asking to have his contract terminated because of his age.

    I have written a letter on his behalf and hope for the best.

  13. GK

    Jan 30 2008

    I was beginning to think I was the only one stupid enough to join Direct Energy for my gas. I pay 42.7 cents for gas that costs 26 cents.

    I signed up on the phone. I was told that my account was up for renewal and did I want to renew. I guess I assumed it would be the status quo.

    It was only months later that I was comparing gas prices with my neighbour and realized I had been conned. When I questioned it with Direct Energy as to how I had agreed, they sent me an email of my taped message agreeing to the ‘renewal’.

    I understand that I can’t get out of my contract without a penalty, but I have advised them in writing that I do not wish to renew when my contract expires.

    Thanks again for your article and please keep warning people that even the big ‘respectable’ companies can play games.

  14. JF

    Jan 30 2008

    This sort of marketing infuriates me. Let me give you an example.

    I owned a business for many years. I signed with a gas retailer to lock my rates for 5 years. Direct Energy bought that retailer and my rates more than tripled in one month.

    When confronted, Direct Energy said they had no evidence of a contract. I produced a copy which they ignored despite constant contact. I was required to pay the higher amount or get my gas cut off. Five months later and with a $5,000 overpayment at the point of a gun, I won my court case against Direct Energy.

    Did I receive my money back right away? No, I had to send a letter telling Direct Energy that I would get the court to order garnishment of their accounts. Then I heard back. I demanded the money plus interest and received it only
    because I gave them one week to do it before petitioning the courts.

    One more. In line with your article, a door salesperson for Superior Energy asked to review my contract. I said I was not interested. She asked me to sign a piece of paper “just to show that she had tried to sell to me.” The top part of the form was obscured and I pushed the covering paper away and saw that IT WAS A CONTRACT!

    I confiscated the paperwork and slammed the door. However, that was no evidence that she attempted to swindle me. I contacted Superior and received a letter that they don’t condone that type of behaviour and that they would have a
    word with the salesperson.

    The problem is twofold. New companies and marketing methods are ripe for abuse with the lack of regulation muscle. And it seems that we the public are “targets” as in target marketing.
    We are perceived as lambs to be led to slaughter. We are the tourists on the beach and in the back streets of Calcutta.

    These companies and many others in various business ventures disavow and distance themselves from the ethical corruption of these “representative” marketers. Its about sales and individual gain. There is no guilt when commission
    salespeople are out to support themselves. And they aren’t
    accountable. “We’ll have a talk with them to let them know this is unacceptable.” Then what?

    A consumer is constantly being upsold to products and services not required. Some contractors use subpar materials because we won’t know and they will be gone years from now. I’m constantly being called and offered products and services, intruding into my private space, my home. I’m being cautioned to call about my credit card because it is of utmost importance. Why? A problem with my credit? The bank is bankrupt?

    No! It’s because I might lose out on a special offer. And my immediate thought was. Oh No!…… raising my blood pressure.

    Because of years of this kind of experience, I no longer worry about whether I am congenial or not with salespeople if I sense one iota of untruth, lack of knowledge or intrusion. And I was in sales!!!! I am the product of being a target consumer.

  15. JT

    Jan 30 2008

    At the outset of retail marketing in Ontario, the OEB gave the right to negative renewals. If you threw away the renewal notice without reading the fine print, you were automatically locked back in to the agreement. You were obligated to write cancelled on it and mail it back. Most of us throw out subscriptions and renewals when we no longer want to renew.

    What a sweet business-building clause that was for the marketers. We detested it when the cable companies attempted it, but the regulator approved it for Gas Marketers …
    whose interests were they looking out for then ?

    This clause has since been cancelled for new contracts but it still applies to any existing contracts that were signed when it was in force. Consumer beware.

    Fear mongering at the door is the sales pitch, prices going up, lock in now … or the ever-popular ploy, “If I could see your utility bill, I can see if you are getting all the discounts that you are entitled to.” Unsuspecting people disclose their account number to the salesperson and they
    are signed up. And if they fail to notice the insignificant change on their utility bill (name of energy supplier), then they sail past the cooling off period and are in for quite a fight to cancel and collect the overpayment — since the proof (signature) is slow and hard to produce from the marketing company.

    They don’t have to show a signature to the local
    distribution utility, just notify them that the account number has selected their company as their energy supplier. And the distribution company is obligated to turn over the consumer’s account information to the marketer … there goes your personal info to a less than genuine sales company. Personal information is a valuable commodity and should be treated
    with the utmost confidentiality.

    The marketer should be required to collect all the information from the potential customer, not from the utility. I never gave authorization to the distribution company to disclose my personal information to anyone.

    Dig a little further and you will see how much these rogue companies cost us in money and time at the distribution company, as customer service reps have to make changes to accounts, billing rates, issue credits, etc …..we all pay for this underhanded sales activity.

    The OEB missed the mark on this one — in the name of protecting the consumer.

  16. JR

    Jan 30 2008

    Basically, they are asking the homeowner to become a commodity speculator. Even professionals find it challenging to guess which way commodity prices are headed, so how can the government ever justify “opening up” the market this way??

    The deregulation of energy markets (hydro and gas) was a con from day one. At least if everyone has to buy gas from Enbridge or Toronto Hydro, we are all in the same boat.

    P.S. And that is to say nothing of speculators gaming the market, trying to push up prices to scare people into buying contracts at the peak for their own profit.

  17. Mark

    Jan 30 2008

    I know plenty of people who have signed these energy contracts (be it with natural gas or electricity) and in the end they all ended up paying *more* in the long run than simply staying with the local utility’s floating rate.

    The salespeople will stress the fact that you are “guaranteed price stability” when you subscribe to their plans, but they usually completely fail to mention that with stability comes an (often drastically) higher price.

    The ploys that these companies use to sucker people in usually revolve around the “teaser rates”. They start by offering a price that’s below the usual market rates and push those numbers on the consumer at the door, conveniently forgetting to mention that after the teaser period ends, the “regular” rate is often staggeringly high.

    Using the same approach with, for example, gasoline, they would try to sell you a contract assuring you “price stability” and a teaser rate of 75 cents per litre for a few months, conveniently forgetting to mention that the “stable” rate you receive afterwards is actually $1.30 a litre – significantly more than the current market rate.

    Consumers quickly sign on the dotted line with dreams of 75-cent-a-litre gasoline in their head, often oblivious to what’s coming afterwards. When they realize they’ve made a terrible mistake after the fact, they’re screwed.

    The marketers are quick to mention that if the market swings in such a fashion that the price of their product goes above their regular rate, you “save”, but in reality, the set-rate prices they offer are often so stratospherically high that the consumer almost always loses.

    More regulation is needed. Consumers are being unwittingly locked into contracts that they don’t need and won’t usually result in a single penny of savings – two things that unscrupulous salespeople often pitch as the main reasons for customers to sign up in the first place.

  18. George

    Jan 30 2008

    “I know that consumers benefit if energy prices rise higher than the contract price.”

    This, unfortunately, is only the case if the company that offered the contract remains solvent. If rates rise dramatically higher than the contract price, then the company is forced into a situation where it has to sell a product substantially below cost. This can result in the company simply going out of business and failing to offer the “protection” that a contract supposedly provides.

    I don’t think it makes any sense to pay more NOW for a tenuous promise of saving money later. Take the extra money that’d go to an energy contract and spend it on something with a guaranteed return, like improved weatherstripping or a more energy-efficient furnace.

  19. JF

    Jan 30 2008

    Just a little story along the same lines. My wife and I moved into our first house back in July. On the second day in our house, someone came to our door claiming to be from the gas company and asking us to complete some paperwork to finalize our new account.

    Having read the Enbridge website carefully before moving and seeing that there was no mention of someone coming to my door with paperwork, I flat out refused to sign anything.

    But I wonder how many other people would have signed the contract. They’re just moving into a new house, with all the stress that comes along with it, having someone come to their door and somehow knowing that they have just moved, so they think it’s legitimate.

  20. Vasile

    Jan 31 2008

    I can confirm that these energy marketers somehow know when people move! It happened to me.

    Less than a couple of weeks after the closing date, a quick-speaking salesman came to my door, pretending to be from Enbridge and asking me to sign on the dotted line. Fortunately, I had just opened the account a few days earlier, so I suspected a scam.

    At further questioning, it proved he represented Direct Energy, offering me the “stability” of the price. I told him to come back in 2 weeks, but he never showed, I wonder why? :-).

    I really don’t remember if he pulled the scam, “sign to show my boss I visited you”, but if he did, I’ll go in court with them.

    The practice seems to be widespread. A friend of mine was visited by them as soon as he moved. Probably they wander the streets looking for “sold” signs, then they keep coming back until they can find someone to con. Too bad no authorities step in to stop this kind of officially-approved scam.

  21. Christine

    Feb 1 2008

    I am STUNNED but have to confirm this is happening all across the country. I live in Vancouver and we have had Direct Energy salespeople come to our door numerous times.

    It appears the routine is the same – they appear to be doing a routine checkup and ask to see a gas bill. They then tell you that you’ll need to fill out a form and that all your neighbours have done it. They make it appear not as an optional service, but as something that’s necessary paperwork.

    DIRECT ENERGY KNOWINGLY EMPLOYS UNDERHANDED PRACTICES TO PREY ON UNSUSPECTING CUSTOMERS. Somebody has got to bring this company to task, or at least publicize this story enough so that people know that Direct Energy is not to be trusted.

  22. Christine

    Feb 1 2008

    More on Direct Energy’s shady past:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_Energy

  23. BS

    Feb 1 2008

    Steps for dealing with energy marketers, as suggested by an industry expert:

    1. Use your Wii or a tennis racquet to practice opening and closing the door in one fluid motion.

    2. Ignore their “the sky is falling” and other horror stories.

    3. Don’t fall for crooked scams like “cash this $ 50 cheque and thereby commit to a 5 year deal”.

    4. Realize that energy marketers make a gross profit of $ 150 (or much more) PER year PER residential customer.

    5. Confirm point 4 by doing some research on energy marketer income funds.

    6. Each year, stuff the $150 or more from point 4 in your “energy price risk mattress”. (Pull it out if required.)

    7. (specific to Ontario electricity) The government and its agencies have already entered into agreements that cover off 75% of the electricity you buy. So, realize that the energy marketer is trying to sell you 100 units of something when you needed only 25 units. That means they would have you “speculate” on the other 75 units, with no hope of profiting from the speculation. (The explanation is long and boring but please trust me on this.)

    8. The only thing that would make an Ontario residential electricity marketer’s contract price economic for the buyer would be another Chernobyl, on Lake Huron or at Pickering/Darlington … and if that happens we have much more to worry about.

  24. Mrs. Mustard

    Feb 1 2008

    My experience is this:

    I was a new resident of Ontario, having moved from Alberta 5 weeks earlier. I had my one-week-old son in my arms when a Universal Energy rep came to my door, stating she worked for the government to ensure that our hydro and gas bills were being billed correctly and that we were receiving our rebates.

    How did that rep know I was new to the province and had no idea of the province’s energy deregulation? I also suspect she was aware of the new baby, because I have encountered several women who were approached while caring for a newborn infant. As anyone can imagine, your mind is not functioning properly a week after giving birth, in the intense state of sleep deprivation, added to the fact that I was new to the province and had no friends to tell me about these energy marketers.

    Fortunately for us, we will be moving back to Alberta in the summer and will be released from our contract because of this.

  25. Jane Doe

    Feb 1 2008

    Unbelievable – I worked for Direct Energy and we are told to lie to our customers. We sell protection plans because if we don’t we are fired. So even employees are strong-armed into practices we don’t want to do.

    It’s terrible working for this company. They make us sell when all the customer wants is hot water or a working furnace. Management makes us tell people they should buy things they don’t need. I am ashamed of ever working for this company.

  26. CW

    Feb 1 2008

    Ellen – thank you for your article on the selling of energy at the door.

    I also experienced the high-pressure sales pitch at the door many years ago. At that time, it seemed like the right thing to do, so I signed up. Good thing I had second thoughts. The next day I faxed a copy of the cancelled contract to the company and so was spared the cancellation cost.

    Back in October, an energy representative was at my door asking to see my hydro bill to determine if I had received a rebate from my current supplier. When he saw that I had not, he immediately pushed a contract in front of me, with the paper folded over the terms, and told me to sign here. He kept insisting I sign and did not allow me to read what I was signing.

    I finally grabbed the contract out of his hands, turned it over and read the terms. It was then I told him I was not interested and basically shut the door in his face. Needless to say, he was a little upset.

    Just recently, another person showed up at the door. I did not waste any time, and told her I was satisfied with my current supplier. Again, she was disturbed that I would not even consider what her company had to offer.

    It seems this is the only way to deal with these people. Perhaps it is because of the way they are compensated by the energy companies. It seems in every other issue of the Scarborough Mirror, there is an ad for door-to-door sales reps in this field. The job advertises an added $15 commission for every signature they manage to swindle out of the unsuspecting, unknowing and sometimes gullible public.

    This type of salesmanship is encouraged, so do not be misled by company claims of innocence. If there is not a law against this type of solicitation, there should be.

  27. Mrs in MB

    Feb 1 2008

    This is a widespread concept in Manitoba too. There was a period last year where there would be at LEAST two people coming to my door and demanding that I sign something or show my hydro bill. I am now happy that I refused to do as they asked (later demanded) and that I shut the door in their face.

    How rude.

  28. Mark

    Feb 1 2008

    For the record, a simple “No salespeople/solicitors” sign near our front door did stop the majority of these sorts of salespeople. We were deluged for the first two years we lived at our current residence, so that sign did manage to get our point across to most salespeople that they were wasting their time.

    A few brave souls pretend to ignore it and ring our doorbell anyway, but they are quickly (yet politely) directed to the sign, and usually that clarifies our view on their sales pitch.

    This is quite possibly a low-tech solution to the problem for many.

  29. alice

    Feb 2 2008

    As an ex-Bell customer, these tactics sound really familiar to me. I’m not sure which is the lesser evil, fired Bell staff getting pogey or sleazing their way through GTA doing what they do best.

  30. Patrick

    Feb 2 2008

    I cannot believe this is still going on! When my wife and I moved into our first house back in 1999 in Mississauga, we had Direct Energy come to our door numerous times. It is time for some laws preventing this type of scam.

    The first time one came to my door, we were both sick with the flu and were pretty out of it. She demanded (yes, demanded) to see my Enbridge bill . After I showed it to her, she convinced me to sign their contract, which she said was for the $50 rebate and my currect gas provider would still be Enbridge. Being sick, I reluctantly went along with it.

    After she left, I had a bad feeling about what I just did (something didn’t seem right) so I went outside to find her. I waited until she finished harassing one of my neighbours and called her over and demanded everything I signed back, including the portion of my gas bill that she took. We argued, but eventually I got the papers back and also called to make sure that my contract was cancelled at their head office.

  31. Frank Medoro

    Feb 3 2008

    The Province should get rid of this Direct Energy nonsense. They’re not doing a thing for consumers other than gouge them. I too was told a bag of lies at the door, but I complained like hell last year and had my rate reduced to what the salesperson wrote down on the contract. I repeated “come hell or high water, I will only pay X%.”

    Yes, was the answer. but when the first bill came around, it was about 3% higher. I screamed fraud and they reduced the rate to the “contractual” one, which is a heck of lot higher than the going rate. Please tell the government to shut these people down.

  32. char

    Feb 3 2008

    A few years ago, Ellen got involved with my problems with Direct Energy, which had done some changes to account numbers. This cancelled my contract and upped my gas rate.

    Despite almost a year of phone calls/emails with them, the Ontario Energy Board and Enbridge, nothing was done to get my money back for bills that were too high. After a couple of weeks, Ellen had a sizable refund for me.

    I changed gas companies over two years ago. Yet I still get people at the door, even with a sign on my door saying “No Salespeople/Solicitors”, and also calling me.

    This does not stop with the gas marketers. It’s also phone, internet, TV, hydro. Why is this allowed? Playing innocent and saying the salespeople who come door to door are trained NOT to behave the way they do is a crock. It’s an easy out for them. It has to stop.

  33. Steve Jenkins

    Feb 7 2008

    Here’s a good one for you: Direct Energy employees are paid per call – so dialing in will cost the company hundreds of dollars… just dial in and say “Hi!” and wait for 15 seconds… this will cause them to have to pay out money faster and hopefully lead to their bankruptcy sooner!

    Call their service line at 1-800-266-3939 and be kind to the people who answer – it’s not their fault! And they will get $2.46 for every time you call! Help them get paid!

  34. TN

    Feb 14 2008

    I’m a naive kid in my 20′s. Just a while ago, a man from Direct Energy came and rang my doorbell. Because my parents weren’t home, he wasn’t able to see our bill. HOWEVER, I gullibly signed the paper “only so that he would get paid for knocking at my door,” as LM said in this post. I didn’t even bother to read the text on that page!

    And now, I’m in panic because I felt scammed, yet I still did what I did. What can I do now? Our bills are under my parents’ name, but I signed. Please tell me I don’t need to go to court to get this resolved!

    After this, I am definitely not going to trust anyone that comes to our door.

  35. LI Wong

    Feb 16 2008

    I used to work at Direct Energy. They just want the customers signed up so they can get some money from them. They know most of them will cancel but in the meantime they are making money from them. They make theit money from cancellation fees. SCAMMERS.

  36. jamie

    Feb 16 2008

    Just had someone here (despite “no soliciting” sign) who explicitly claimed to be an employee of the local municipally owned utility by name, had a clipboard with a real bill from the local utility and a name tag “Ontario Energy”. He correctly mentioned the upcoming meter change and said he needed to see the utility bill to ensure I was “getting the savings”.

    He was really with Ontario Energy Savings, trying to sign people up on contracts. When called on that, he said they were working “on behalf of the local utility”.

    I can’t believe the extent to which he explicitly lied, misrepresenting who he was. Mostly seniors around here, wonder how many will fall for it. Just incredible the province hasn’t taken action to put a stop to this.

  37. the truth

    Feb 20 2008

    I work for Ontario Energy Savings and just want to clarify a few things. First, when we hire sales people to go door to door, they are trained on how they are supposed to present our program. What happens at the door is a totally different story.

    These people get paid on commission, so they try to get as many signed contracts as possible (I mean, at $70 a contract). Since what they say/do at your door cannot be recorded, they obviously will try any tactic they can to get you to sign. As a company, we do everything in our power to avoid these situations, and believe me, we do have procedures in place when we receive complaints and many of these salespeople have been let go because of these deceptive tactics.

    One thing I wanted to mention, though, is that despite what people think about our prices being double the market (which I can’t lie about, they are), it’s only because we buy gas in bulk to guarantee the rates for the entire term of the program. We have customers who have seen savings after a 5 year term and some who haven’t.

    At the end of the day, it is the customer’s choice to be on the program. We allow a 10-day cooling off period, after which we will call to reaffirm the program (OEB states we must have verbal confirmation). If you don’t want the program, you can cancel, no problem. Anyway, I hope that answers some questions.

  38. Jon

    Feb 23 2008

    Hi all, I have been scammed by a company called Summit Energy. It’s a five year contract and I’m locked in at 38.9 cents a cubic meter for natural gas. I’ve been with them for a year.

    Is there any possible way to get out of this without paying any penalties? I’m thinking about calling in and canceling my contract and if they say there’s a fee, so be it. They cancel it first, send me a bill for the fee and I don’t pay. It just affects my credit, so what? Any input would be great!! Thanks.

  39. D S

    Feb 25 2008

    I recently applied for a job interview and was accepted into the application process for UNIVERSAL ENERGY. The two day initial period was full of big talk about the potential for income, but they were sidestepping questions about the nature of the work being done.

    I was quickly shuttled into a van at the end of the process and taken without explanation to an area outside of Toronto, where it was very hard to manage my way back into the city. When I entered the van, I was presented with a current employee’s “bonus” cheque, about $1,000, while they added the “you can too” mentality over and over.

    The rest of the day consisted of listening to my “trainer” who was scamming and misrepresenting his company in his own interest, even getting into arguments with homeowners at their own doorsteps! The entire time, he was bragging about his $120 bonus for every person he signed up for both gas and hydro. I felt ashamed to be involved with such an organization.

    Please don’t conduct business with these energy marketers!! They are only concerned with their own interests.

  40. Wendi Maroon

    Feb 26 2008

    Something happened to my elderly mother that I haven’t seen posted here yet. She was signed up with Universal Energy and had been for a couple years.

    Last December, a week before Christmas, Ontario Energy Savings came to her door (she’s 73, recently widowed and living alone). OES took a look at her bill and saw that she was already signed up with Universal. She was told, “We can offer you a lower rate and save you money if you sign up with us”. When my mother questioned him about the fact that she was already signed up with Universal, the guy from OES told her “don’t worry, we’ll take care of that, it’s not a problem.” So of course she signed up.

    Well, in January, she got a letter from Universal indicating that she was being charged liquidated damages for breaching he contract with them.

    I read the OES contract and was enraged. I’m a lawyer and was shocked and disgusted they would expect a 73 year old woman to read this at the door and give informed consent. The legalese in these contracts appears to be meant to ensure that people don’t understand. Nobody but a lawyer can understand this stuff, and even as a lawyer, I had difficulty with it.

    I called and spoke to a CSR at Universal, who was actually very helpful and advised me of a few things that would assist my mom. BUt I’m having difficulty verifying this information. He said that the Ontario Energy Board rules do NOT allow these energy resellers to contract with anyone over 70 years of age. I stil haven’t been able to determine if that is an actual regulation or not yet.

    In any event, it was clear to me that OES had induced my mom to breach her contract with Universal. Don’t forget, they look at your bill, they can see the name of any other reseller you might be signed up with. The inducement to breach was in the ‘we can save you money’ and ‘we will take care of it’ with respect to the Universal contract.

    When I contacted OES and asked what did ‘we will take care of it’ means (because in my mind it can only mean they will pay the liquidated damages), the CSR told me she didn’t know what that meant. No, they do not pay liquidated damages for a person breaching a contract with another company. I told her both these facts can only result in one conclusion, that their door-to-door salesperson induced my mother to breach her contract with Universal.

    Universal had also indicated to me that the the gas portion of their contract with my mother was not the problem. When the account name was changed after my father’s death, that voided the original contract. The electric portion, however, was still valid as that account name had not changed.

    So, on those representations, I did persuade OES to set aside the electric contract, or else I was prepared to take them to court. They caved and set aside the electric portion of the contract. Another conversation with Universal and I was told everything was resolved and I could ignore the letter demanding liquidated damages.

    End of story? Oh noooo….a few days ago my mother received another phone call from Universal with the same threat with respect to the gas portion. Luckily, I was at my mom’s house and spoke to them (of course a different CSR). When I advised her of the discussion last month and the hoops I went through to have the OES contract set aside with respect to to the electric, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PREVIOUS CSR’S representation that they would and had resolved the matter, she had no ‘notes’ about any conversation with their CSR and basically implied I was lying. Uggh. After a few more, not so pleasant words from both the CSR and myself, she hung up on me.

    So now I’m expecting my mom will soon be receiving another demand for liquidated damages on the gas portion and I will again have to do battle with both companies to ensure my mother is not harassed and ripped off because of these tactics.

    I do have notes from the original CSR at Universal that I took during our conversation where he advised all was resolved. Since it was only a month ago, I have a clear recollection of that conversation. I’m about to write a letter to our MPP about this.

    Has anyone contacted their MPP? Have they been of any help at all?

    Sorry for such a long post, but as I said when I started, I haven’t seen this particular practice of one company inducing a person to breach a contract with another. IMO, it doesn’t get any sleazier than that, which I’m sure OES knows and is why they caved on one phone call.

    So, that saga (and the stress) continues….

  41. Ellen Roseman

    Feb 26 2008

    Hi Wendy. I have a few answers for you about your mother’s experience. There’s little that happens with door-to-door energy marketers that I don’t know about because of all the complaints I get.

    –There’s no rule that seniors can’t be asked to sign contracts. The OEB thinks it would be discrimination against the elderly to exempt them. However, a number of companies do have a policy of releasinge seniors from contracts without penalty if they complain. I’ve had quite a lot of success helping seniors and I’m willing to help your mother.

    –What you describe is actually a common scenario. Marketers are allowed to approach each other’s customers and try to sign them up in mid-contract. This has always been the case with electricity and just started last June with natural gas. The utilities used to block such requests, but now it’s up to customers to decide whether to stay with the old marketer or sign with a new one. Of course, they will have to pay fees (known as liquidated damages) to get out of a fixed-term contract before it expires. There’s a period where the customer will be up for grabs, with both companies trying to get their business.

    –Why did the OEB allow this situation, where customers can sign two contracts (or more) at the same time? They call it freedom of choice. I call it confusion. The idea is that if you’re stuck with a very high rate, you might be able to sign up at a lower rate elsewhere before the contract term is up. But once you pay a big penalty for leaving, you’re probably no better off.

    –Are MPPs any help? Not much. I get better results than most MPPs’ offices, probably because I handle so many complaints. The Ontario Energy Board tells people to call their MPPs if they want to change the system of energy marketing in Ontario. I like that idea a lot. Put pressure on politicians to stop allowing door-to-door selling because of all the abuses. Let people sign these contracts only if they approach the marketers themselves.

    –Since you’re a lawyer and you can’t understand the document, how does an average person understand it? Ontario should have laws requiring plain-language energy contracts, as they do in some western provinces. This is a complex subject, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be boiled down into simple language.

    I could go on, but just let me say that I welcome complaints at my email address. I wish all boomer kids like you tried to get their elderly parents out of these high-priced deals, which seem to be marketed disproportinately to seniors on a fixed income.

  42. Wendi Maroon

    Mar 1 2008

    Hello Ellen,

    Thank you so much for responding to my post. As yet, we have not heard anything further from Universal with respect to the gas contract. I’m hoping that means they have decided to release my mom without further ado or penalty because of her age, and because of my discussion with them. It was a week ago Friday (February 22) that I last spoke with them and I fully expected my mother would have received another demand for liquidated damages by now.

    I’ve done some further research and now see that, yes, the issue of not signing up people after the age of 70 is an internal policy (funny how the one helpful CSR from Universal advised me of that to help me get out of the conract with OES, but another CSR atUniversal is now trying to deny that policy themselves).

    Ellen, with respect to the contracts, I couldn’t agree with you more that these contracts can indeed be put into plain language. I would go so far as to say I myself could put it into plain language. I’ve done it with mortgage documents and they contain as much legalese as these contracts do. That is why I am convinced the whole purpose of the legalese is indeed to confuse people.

    When we first encountered this problem of liquidated damages in January, and after I got through reading the contract, I was so enraged I was seriously considering approaching my mom’s neighbors, many of whom, like her, have been there decades and are elderly, just to see if anyone had been put in this untenable position so I could help. However, I’m concerned about the ethics of doing so and I do not want to make anyone uncomfortable. My own mother felt this was all her fault and said she would never sign anything again without me there. It truly broke my heart. I assured her as strongly as I could that I do NOT blame her for anything that has transpired. But this has caused her to feel foolish and I certainly do not want to insert myself into other’s lives and perhaps have them feel foolish as well.

    Again, thank you for your response. If it comes to pass that she does receive another demand letter, I will email you, thank you so much for the offer. I’ve found this entire forum very helpful and your knowledge on this issue has helped me greatly.

    Please have a wonderful day.

    Wendi

  43. LMS

    Mar 7 2008

    I have not had a chance to read all the replies here yet, but would like some advice.

    My mother passed away July 31, 2007. As she had been ill for some time, we had already pulled out all bills and documents needed to settle her account.

    In September, I received a threatening letter from Universal (addressed to my Mom at her former address, but as executor the mail was redirected to me). The letter said my mother had signed a contract with them on Aug. 14, 2007 and had not made payment, so they wanted $844.50 for early termination of the account. NOTE THE DATES: My mother passed away a full TWO WEEKS before she supposedly signed this contract.

    I called Universal and asked them to please explain how she could have signed a contract Aug. 14 when she died July 31. I got all sorts of responses, most of which accused me of lying. And if I wasn’t lying, then someone else at the house must have forged her signature.

    Obviously I was angry and VERY upset but sent them a copy of the death certificate as proof. I also asked them, at the time, to send me a copy of the contract she had signed. A month or so later (Oct/Nov) I get ANOTHER letter from them (same letter as the first, actually), again demanding payment. I made ANOTHER call to Universal, AGAIN asked them to send a copy of the contract my dead mother had apparently signed from her coffin. Of course, no copy of the contract ever showed up.

    I didn’t hear anything else from them until 3 or 4 weeks ago. This time, it was a letter from a collection agency threatening legal action. At this point, I TOTALLY lost it. Called the collection agency (and I was crying at this point – Mom and I were very close and having to deal with this BS on top of her dying was incredibly stressful). The girl at the collection agency was VERY nice, and asked me to send (again) a copy of the death certificate and she would contact Universal.

    I decided that I was going to contact them as well. When I called, I asked to speak to the manager I had spoken to back in Oct/Nov and was told she no longer worked there (big surprise). So, instead, I spoke to the new “manager” and went through the ENTIRE story again. She asked me to send a copy of the death certificate AGAIN, and I agreed to do so while asking again for a copy of the Aug. 14 contract.

    I called Universal again a few days later to verify they had received the death certificate. The person I spoke to THAT time told me that yes, they had received it and the contract was now cancelled. AGAIN I ask for a copy of the contract dated Aug. 14. He tried to argue me out of it, saying since it was now cancelled there was no need for me to have a copy. I told him as executor of the estate I was entitled to a copy. He said it would take 2-3 weeks.

    A few weeks ago, I received a letter from Universal stating the contract was cancelled. A few days later, I FINALLY receive the contract my Mom signed. The date on it? June 22, 2005.

    Obviously, they do not have, and never did have, a signed contract by my Mother dates August 14, 2007. I have just gotten off the phone with them again – I told the person I was speaking to that all I wanted was confirmation from him that they are not able to provide a contract dated August 14, 2007. He confirmed this.

    I’m sorry this is so long, but I wanted to make sure those reading it would have a good idea of the timeline and events.

    Who should I contact to report this? Is it considered fraud? Can I sue them for emotional distress in court? Or sue them for fraudulently trying to collect on a non-existent contract? Can I sue them for sending an invalid contract to a collection agency?

    Many thanks in advance.

  44. MT

    Mar 28 2008

    I am an energy sales agent and I know the truth. The reality is this.

    Last June, the Ontario Energy Board allowed gas customers to move their contracts to a different company. Direct Energy (DE) and Wholesale Energy Group(WEG) started to pay their sale agents a commission on gross contracts submitted in order to increase their sales,

    This means companies compensate their sales agents on all energy contracts without having customers reaffirm them (as required by law). A lot of sales agents started to obtain two companies’ licenses and representing two companies in front of the same customer’s door, in order to receive twice the commission on same customer from the two companies.

    With these two companies (DE and WEG), sales agents let customers sign a new energy contract — no matter whether they already have an energy contract or not — without telling customers that the contract they signed is a switch. This means they have to pay liquidated damages later to go back to their original company.

    Agents are just cheating customers to sign for a so-called government rebate and will not tell the truth.

    Sales agents never show their work ID badge. They just tell customers they are from the utility (since Direct Energy’s name and company logo shows on the Enbridge gas bill).

    Sales agents let customer sign for different companies’ energy contracts at their door and don’t tell customers at all what they are signing for.

    Customers never realize that they are signing two different energy contracts at the same time. Once customers call DE to cancel because of agents’ cheating, they have to pay a $50 administration fee in order to get rid of a liquidated damages notice.

    In order to avoid receiving complaints, 99% of DE and WEG agents never leave any copies of the contract with customers! Some agents even let customers sign one energy contract and forge the customer’s signature for another company contract!

    Since these two companies pay on gross paper, with no quality control, there’s a whole bunch of energy sales agents from these two companies now cheating people all across Ontario to make quick money! Eight per cent of sales agents now join these two companies to make easy quick money!

    Direct Energy sales agents receive commissions NOT from the company directly, but from DE sales agencies or so-called distributors. A lot of bad agents who got fired from DE or agents who have bad records can still use different names to continue working for DE.

    Let’s say agent A got fired from DE, but he can still use agent B’s name to write sales for DE. The sales agency or distributor will write cheques to agent A, using agent B’s sales volume.

    Agencies and distributors co-operate with agents to cheat DE! That’s why DE has already fired so many bad agents, but these agents are still working for DE by using a fraudulent ID badge.

    I can tell you now that 50% of Direct Energy’s contracts have fraudulent papers, not real agent-written deals, and 99% of these energy contracts are never left with customers. Tons of contracts have forged signatures. They sign up seniors and minors who are not the account holder!

    A lot of DE agents have two companies’ work ID badges and sign customers for two companies at the same time. Some agents even get the customer’s energy bill from the mailbox and fill out the energy contract by themselves, forging the signature in order to receive commissions on this “paper.”

    If they’re found out by DE, the agents get fired. No problem, since their sales distributors will provide another agent ID and he or she can continue working to make money for himself and his agency.

    This is what’s happening with DE and WEG every day and at every door across Ontario. I don’t understand why the Ontario Energy Board stands by and lets it happen.

    Please tell Ontario residents to be careful when energy guys are in front of their door. I hope the OEB will become aware of what’s going on and clean up this marketing ASAP!

  45. Susan M. Leclaire

    Mar 30 2008

    I am absolutley overwhelmed at the number of people caught in this energy scam. I am one of them.

    I live in Belleville and 2 years ago, vans from Universal Power came zipping through here. At the time, the scare was on over the smart meters and high costs projected by our own MPs for energy. Their documents looked official, they were able to back up their claims with publications from the Ontario Energy Board and they offered a guaranteed protection at a reasonable rate just a few pennies higher than the going rate set by the Energy Board.

    Gradually over the past two years, this rate has increased to the point where Universal is now charging me 9.6 cents a kilowatt hour for electricity and 49% more than the rate set by the Energy Board. I contacted Universal Power last August to express my concerns at this, as another of their agents had appeared at my door regurgitating the same promises looking for another customer.

    I wanted to show him that what he was stating at the door was totally false. He assured me that I could blend down, as stated in the contract, to a more reasonable rate. He spoke to the Universal agent on the phone himself, only to be surprised that no, I couldn’t. He was told this is only allowed three months before the signing aniversary date of your contract. He said that was not what they were instructed to say to potential customers. He was to imply that if rates went down, Universal Power would give their customers the same opportunity to benefit from a lower rate and a fair market price.

    He was also shocked to learn, though not specified in the contract in clear terms, that huge cost was involved should you wish to dissolve the contract. I had recently moved and discovered that Universal had extended my contract another year and a half, as I had been assigned a new account number. The agent was surprised that the blend that would be offered was in the amount of .4 cents per kilowatt hour only on the condition that my contract was automatically extended for another 5 years. Of course, I laughed at them and refused. Not at all what they are trained to tell customers at the door.

    I have been trying since then to find a solution to this problem. I have contacted the Energy Board twice beginning last December and again this February and March 2008.

    On Feb. 15, I sent letters to Universal Power telling them I wished to end my contract. They responded by email on that date saying I would hear from them in 5-15 days. Hasn’t happened yet. They had ignored emails from the Energy Board as well until this past Friday. They lied and said they had dealt with my issues. I don’t think the board bothered to ask them for proof.

    I had fully informed the the Energy Board of the problems I was having. I recommended they go to the Universal website and read their promises of “guaranteed savings” and protection from high unfair market prices. I had charged that Universal was guilty under the Energy Board’s code of conduct of misleading and deceptive marketing practices and unfair market pricing. A representative from the office of the Ontario Power Authority had recommended I do this and someone from the Energy Board would help me find a resolution.

    I was told by a Universal customer service rep that if I was forced to move because I couldn’t afford the hydro here to a cheaper apartment, they would still bill me for breaking my contract. I asked how much and it was over $800 for the remaing time of the contract as she said I had to pay for the cost of the hydro purchased in my name by them. If I cancel the contract, pay the $800 plus and they resell the same hydro to another customer, just think of the profit they are making.

    I am on a disability pension and live alone, yet my bills are coming in at $430-$445 every three months. This is more than a $200 increase. There is no doubt if it continues, I will be forced to move. There is an alternative. I have looked into putting my hydro into another person’s name, letting Universal try to sue me for the amount they require to break the contract and then taking them to court. I intend to make as many in my community aware of these snake oil salesmen and this company’s gaming methods as I can. I have nothing to lose and many can gain from my experience.

    The best advertising is word of mouth. I don’t think we need to hide in shame, nor feel that we were stupid by signing these contracts, as we trust our government to make good choices. Why has the Energy Board licensed these people and refused to apply the code of conduct? It is in my mind legalized fraud. I tell everyone here I can, don’t let them in. If I see their van coming through, I’m going to follow them to every door and warn the people.

    There is nothing they could offer me now to keep my mouth closed on this matter. Election time is coming up and I am looking for ways to make someone accountable for what’s happening. You can also pummel the Energy Board with complaints until they pay attention. Their website to file a complaint form online is http://www.oeb.gov.on.ca and http://www.mgs.gov.on.ca.

  46. John Andrews

    Apr 1 2008

    Heard the sales guy telling my spouse that he wanted to see our bill because “we might be getting charged too much”. So off I go to see what this is about. Now confronted, meekly suggests that he was just going to show us where on our bill their company is (they rent us our hot water heater) — so possibly an attempt to conflate one set of services with another. Then blatantly misrepresents our current (smart meter) rates and times in order to bolster his sales pitch.

    He wasn’t happy when I mentioned that their attempt to sell us electricity was for a higher flat rate than even the peak rate under the smart meter.

    I’ll be posting notices around the neighbourhood about this. I don’t want my neighbours being taken in by these hucksters. Given stories about outright fraudulent practices including forgery (google Direct Energy + misrepresentation — that’s how I found your page), I called my hydro company to ensure we were still with them! Fight, I say! Fight!

  47. Willem

    Apr 2 2008

    Hello:

    Can a hydro retailer contract be enforced even if the customer has not signed in writing?

    I am thinking of the following happening:

    1. A hydro retailer calls you and quotes a price for five years.

    2. You accept.

    3. The hydro retailer sends you a contract within 40 days of the call.

    4. You don’t do anything regarding the contract.

    5. On a day after the tenth day and before the 60th day that you received the contract! they call you to reaffirm your wish to ‘sign’ the contract and you say “I will ‘sign’.”

    6.You have not signed on paper, but are you legally bound?

    Willem

  48. X

    Apr 10 2008

    The other day I was offered a job with Summitt Energy. After doing research (have been screwed by ‘low end sales’ jobs before), I am sure I will not be taking this position.

    I don’t have any problems with direct selling. In fact, it is a great way to build up a resume in the field, but there seems to be too much fraud among energy salespeople — all while their employers and the government fail to do anything about it.

  49. Estelle

    Apr 17 2008

    Please never sign up with a gas marketer. It is impossible to get rid of them after your contract ends. Although we did return their “form” clearly marked “Declined” before their deadline to respond, for some reason “they did not receive it”. I had no idea they were so dishonest that I should have sent it by registered mail.

    I should have known this would happen. We had been hounded for several months by calls to renew our contract before and after I had mailed it. They refuse to take NO for an answer. We asked several times they not call again, but they kept calling and we had to ignore the phone. When we realized the calling had stopped, we thought they had accepted our decision and we were done with them. WRONG.

    We did not notice in July 2007 that a new rate of 43.9 cents (double the original rate) had come into effect. Our bills are low in the summer and, furthermore, Direct Energy had told us our contract was ending in November of 2007. When we finally realized in March 2008 that they were still acting as our supplier and charging us double for it, we contacted Enbridge and had their name removed. It’s still too soon to be sure, but I hope we are now done with them.

    We are now trying to collect the difference, which is a minimum of $400 we overpaid in gas charges to date. They gave us a claim number, but nothing else happened. Two days ago, we filed a complaint online with the Ontario Energy Board. Direct Energy called this morning to say they had not received the Form saying we had declined and could not refund us, to which I responded that they had received it and we will continue pursuing them.

    I hope the OEB can do something about this injustice. It’s not just about the money; it’s the deceptive, callous, dishonest way they operate. When a contract expires and you do not renew it, it should end. Period. We will never sign up with a marketer again. NEVER.

  50. Kathy

    May 12 2008

    Help!!
    I signed the contract on Jan. 1, 2008. At that time, I didn’t know it was a contract. I just would like to save money like the door-to-door seller said. Summitt Energy would help me and would return the additional fees I paid.

    After I saw the Consumer’s Right and Buyer’s Rights to Cancel, I had no sense of fear. But when I received my electricity bill on April 29, I was shocked by the high payment. I mailed a notice of cancellation to Summitt Energy by registered mail.

    Today I received a bill that shows total due is $1,467.20 ($1,010.63 for gas liquidated damages, $456.57 for electricity liquidated damages).

    My heating system actually uses oil, not gas. I don’t have an account for gas. The door-to-door seller circled Natural Gas Program, but the Enbridge account number was blank. Why should I pay liquidated damages since Summitt Energy didn’t have any damages in gas service?

    I wrote a letter to the Ontario Energy Board this afternoon. Haven’t got an answer yet. Tell me what should I do now. I don’t want to pay so much money. Crazy country.

  51. Just Tell Them FO

    May 20 2008

    When these door to door liars come to my door I simply and literally tell them to FO. I then tell them to get off my property or I will have a surprise for them…I would love to tell you what it is but it is a “surprise”.

  52. Ryan

    Sep 24 2008

    Thank you for drawing attention to this escalating problem. I recently purchased a house in downtown Toronto, and soon after a representative from Summit Energy came to my door.

    He already had my name and personal details, which was shocking in retrospect. But since I’m a first-time home buyer, it seemed convincing at the time. He said his company is the EXCLUSIVE energy provider in my area and he was simply visiting to confirm that everything was okay in my new house.

    Of course, I did not let him in or give him any information. But he did ask me to sign something that merely said he had visited the property. I verified that it was not a contract and I initialed it (NO full signature).

    Since then, I have received well over 50 harassing phone calls trying to force me to give them my Hydro account number to confirm my “contract”.

    I suspect the salesperson forged my signature and I don’t know what to do now. I have told them that I did not and will not sign any contract nor give them any further information, but I receive harassing phone calls from them at least twice a day.

  53. sharifa hosein

    Oct 28 2008

    It is truly horrible what is allowed to go on. The so-called salespeople are harrassing unsuspecting individuals.

    I bought a house a year ago and was asked to sign a gas contract. I signed unknowingly. The house was never occupied and still isn’t. The gas supply was cut in August ’08.

    Summit Energy sent me a bill for $1,000. When I called their office in Mississauga, they threathened me that if I did not pay, this would go against my credit rating.

    There should be some kind of government intervention in this matter. A lot of unsuspecting individuals are caught in similar scams.

  54. Rash

    Oct 28 2008

    Two of those rouge salespersons came to my house, asking me to sign for cheap gas. One said he wanted to see my gas bill. I hesitated.

    He was being very persistent. I started becoming a bit nervous/scared by his bullying attitude. After about ten minutes, they left when I insisted I am not signing anything.

    My Mercedes was parked in my yard at the time. I came out of the house soon after, only to see a boot print on front bonnet of my car.

  55. CL

    Nov 12 2008

    I felt like an idiot I got scammed. And now I am trying to find a way to get out of it.

    I just moved into my new home a few weeks ago. During the first two days of closing, I was in and out my place doing some moving. This is the first time I moved into a new home. I used to live in a condo, so I have no idea what this utilities thing is about.

    Anyhow, a person came to the door while I was busy moving, and the appliances guy were there too. Long story short, I was led to believe the person was from Enbridge and required me to sign a document to ensure my gas services.

    I was suspicous at that time, so I asked him his name or an Enbridge representative number, just some kind of ID so I can trace back to Enbridge later if it is all a scam. He showed me the form he wanted me to sign, which has his representative number on it.

    So in a very chaotic situation, dealing with appliances guys in and out of my house, needing me to sign delivery stuff, in a rush I signed the contract with the supposed Enbridge person.

    For the first two weeks, we were busy moving in and out, and lots of fixes needed to be done in the new house, just the chaos and stress in settling down. Anyhow, I totally forgot about the energy thing.

    One day (I guess it is 10 days later), I received a phone call asked me if I everything is ok with my utilities, and of course I said “yes”. Who would have thought that “yes” just costs me? I verbally agreed to bind the 5 years contract with them.

    During this time, another guy came and asked for my hydro bill. That got me very suspicious. I called the hydro company and they told me I am signed with Summitt Energy. I called Summitt and asked them to cancel my account. In fact, I just realized I didn’t just sign the gas contract with them, but both hydro and gas!

    I asked them to terminate my contracts. They told me it will cost me $450 to terminate my hydro contract and $962 for gas. I was furious!

    The customer service agent from Summitt even tried to tell me they offer good rates and why would I want to terminate. Before he even finished, I told them it doesn’t matter how good you are or what your company offers, it is integrity issues. I was misled into thinking that your salesperson was from Enbridge.

    How can I get out of it without paying them an outrageous fee?

  56. MARK

    Dec 1 2008

    Hello,

    I am a victim of Summitt Energy and I am not sure where I should go to file a complaint.

    To summarize, I never consented to Summitt being my energy supplier. However, I have them as a pending gas supplier as of January 2009.

    It began in August. 2008; a representative claiming to be from Union Gas came and asked me if I was the owner of the house. I confirmed and they asked if I had a recent bill to prove it.

    I proceeded to show them a copy of my most recent bill. As I took a closer look at the sheet of paper on his notepad, I realized they were not a Union Gas representative but Summitt.

    The exposed part of the representative’s ID stated Union Gas but under the clipboard was marked Summitt Energy. Afterwards, I declined their offer and I closed the door. I did not sign or consent to any contracts.

    Fast forward to November. I am checking my bills online and I notice that there is a pending gas supplier who is Summitt. Immediately I remembered their visit but I had not agreed to anything.

    One of two things happened here: one, they copied down my account information when I showed them my bill and forged the rest. I did not consent to it. Or secondly, they decided to go ahead with the change in supplier without any sufficient basis, hoping that I would not notice in time.

    Either way, I contacted them by fax to ask them to provide me with a copy of the contract. Summitt responded saying “there was no confirmation, so no cancellation number is provided.”

    However, when I asked them why I still have them as a pending gas supplier as of January, they could not comment.

    What do I need to do next to ensure that I do not have Summitt as my gas supplier? How do I know that they have taken me off and that my gas supplier is Union Gas instead?

    I would like to file my complaint now, as my status is still changing to Summitt and I do not want to waste any more time. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

    The following is the information I see on my account:

    Pending Natural Gas SupplierBeginning on Jan 1/09 your natural gas supplier will be SUMMITT ENERGY LP.
    For questions about your natural gas contract, please contact your pending natural gas supplier SUMMITT ENERGY LP at (877) 222-9520.

    I have already spoken with Union Gas. The company will not intervene.

  57. Mike

    Jan 21 2009

    I can’t believe that nothing is being done about these deceptive practices. This needs to be cracked down on immediately!

    I was aware of these scams and had already turned someone away from my new home who was trying to “lock in” my energy rates. Then along came a guy with the hard hat and all kinds of Union Gas paperwork, whodid not even mention he was selling anything. He was simply confirming that new residents had their hookups, etc. He wanted me to sign that he had been there and had all the information obscured, except where I should print/sign.

    With a crying baby and a barking dog, I signed quickly just to get him out of there. As he handed me the paper, I noticed “Summitt Energy” on the top and said, “You don’t work for Union Gas?” He just said “No” and walked away quickly.

    I immediately knew what was up and couldn’t believe how stupid I was. But with all the distractions and his completely misleading tactics, I can see how many people would get ripped off and never know the difference, thinking that they had just signed a 5-year agreement.

    I was furious and immediately contacted Summitt Energy in writing, saying that I did not want to enter into the agreement. I also contacted Union Gas to make them aware of the situation. These types of sales tactics are criminal in my mind, doing nothing short of stealing from people.

  58. Craig

    Jan 30 2009

    I was just visited by a guy from Summitt Energy. I guessed right away it was a scam but wanted to hear his pitch.

    He told me that there’s new government legislation and I needed to sign a form right away or I’d see my energy prices skyrocket. He asked to see my energy bills and wanted me to sign something. I asked him to give me some information that I could read and I’d get back to his company. He refused. I asked him to leave.

    What a terrible scam. I feel sorry for older citizens who are grew up in times where people and companies were decent. Where can we go to demand an end to these door-to-door scams?

  59. OS Northern Alberta

    Feb 6 2009

    Alberta Energy Savings LP are incredibly unethical and corrupt.

    A sales agent approached our home this summer and offered us a contract, indicating that we could get out of it upon selling our home. Five months later, we are being asked for $1.5K to cancel and have been told that we fabricated this information and asked if we could read the contract.

    The bottom line is firms should be liable for the verbal guarantees made by their agents.

    A quick check with the BBB and Googling the firm tells the story – a long trail of misinformed consumers and corporate greed.

  60. Allan

    Feb 6 2009

    I also fell into the same trap with Summitt Energy. I received by first hydro bill and it had more than doubled.

    I’m not the type of person to get scammed, but I’m not going to pay double for my hydro either. I’m thinking about canceling with Summitt and telling them that I am moving to a basement apartment and hydro is included.

    Does that give them the right to charge me a penalty? There is nowhere in the contract that shows any type of dollar amount for breaking the contract. Does it just come from the top of their head?

    I will call them back using a private number. I’m sure they have call display and they know who I am. I will ask if I do move, will they penalize me?

    When I did call them about moving, they said I would have to provide a copy of my new renter’s agreement, my driver’s license and my last hydro bill. It seems to be a little too much ito give. I wonder if I give them this info, would I be setting myself up for more hardship down the road?

    I have an excellent credit rating and even if they do charge me a large lump sum, I will never pay it, even if it goes to collection. Any info back would be greatly appreciated.

  61. Furious

    Feb 20 2009

    Superior Energy rep scammed an elderly neighbour we know into signing a contract at the door, stated they were from Enbridge, took their utility bills and left.

    Rep would not leave until homeowner signed. This has been incredibly stressful for the homeowner; she now is asking to go into a care home because she feels too vulnerable in her own home! This has all arisen because of the scare she had when the guy would not leave her house.

    We were approached by her for help and cancelled within the 10 day refusal period. Superior initially agreed in writing to cancel the contract. We even received an apology and an email from their head of customer service, promising to cancel everything without penalty.

    We requested in writing that no one from Superior should ever contact her again, and she withdrew her consent for them to use personal information. Despite this:

    Two weeks later, the homeowner gets a Superior letter & contract in the mail welcoming her as a new customer! It asks for a confirmation to be signed back.

    We respond with another letter, copying all correspondence to them. So far, we have heard nothing back. The customer service guy’s phone number never gets answered and he never replies to voice mail. We have even sent registered letters to the President with no reply!

    The OEB complaint line is useless. They have no interest in helping. Our lawyer is interested in helping, of course, but for a fee.

    Why should consumers have to spend money to put these bozos out of business? Where are our regulators? Ellen, you are our last resort!!

  62. Ellen Roseman

    Feb 20 2009

    To Furious: Just send me an email with all the details, including the person’s name and address, and I’ll get it to the president of Superior Energy.

    These companies have policies that they will release seniors from contracts without penalty. The problem, of course, is reaching a decision maker who will listen to you.

  63. Karim

    Mar 5 2009

    My wife and I just moved into our first home this past weekend and last night a rep came to our door. She represented herself as a rep for Hydro One and Enbridge to just complete our registration as the new owners of the home. This made sense to me since we had only contacted both those companies by phone.

    Then she gave me a pamphlet and just said it had some energy saving “tips”. I looked at it and it said Summitt Energy. I asked who that was and she said that’s where Enbridge gets their gas from.

    Then she asked if she could get my printed name. I said this isn’t to lock us into a fixed rate contract or anything, right? She played dumb like she wasn’t aware of any such thing and we went on to tell her that Enbridge had warned us about door to door sales people.

    She continued to play stupid and acted surprised that Enbridge would warn us. At that point, she couldn’t get out of there fast enough and told us to have a good night and left without my signature.

    At no point did she fess up about who she really represented or what she was asking me to sign. That to me is complete and utter misrepresentation. I can’t believe a company would engage in such deceptive business tactics. I really expect this kind of business practice to occur in the US, not here in Canada.

  64. steph

    Mar 14 2009

    These stories are freaking me out. I’m on the hook for another 5 years with Ontario Energy Savings and Summitt got me last year, and I cannot believe how much my hydro went up when they hooked me. I HAVE to get out of this contract!!!!!!

    And the only reason I have found out about all this is because CBC’s Marketplace is doing a story about these marketers coming up next Friday. I cannot believe I fell for this, but just like most of the stories above, I had just bought my house and guess who came knock knock knocking on my door. I really had no idea. Is it not time for a class action lawsuit? Thank you Ellen for drawing attention to these marketer scams. I am quite sick to my stomach right now over all the money this is costing me. I hope Marketplace has some other insights. I want out!!!!!!!!!

  65. Colin Bowern

    Apr 6 2009

    I just had a Direct Energy agent try this to me this evening. She asked to “ensure you have price protection” on my energy bill without explanation. This is unethical and needs to be shut down.

  66. Bing Wu

    Apr 9 2009

    I had same story. Can we do anything about this? This scam business need to be put off.

  67. Niraj Chandra

    Apr 14 2009

    Thanks for a very insightful article; reader comments are equally interesting.

    There is yet another scam going around: Water heater rentals. You can read about it at http://wecanadians.com.

    Many people own everything else in the house but they rent water heaters. Why? Its a rip-off, plain and simple.

  68. Leah

    Apr 22 2009

    In this current economic climate, it is especially infuriating that these companies are cheating honest people out of their (VERY) hard earned money.

    It is equally infuriating that the ‘higher ups’ in the companies profess any untruths to be the sole actions of some ‘delinquent salesperson’ when all of these common stories seem to indicate that:

    A) The salespeople are trained to misrepresent themselves in order to sign people up.

    B) These companies make it extremely difficult to get out of a fraudulent contract once it has been signed.

    It is actually very embarassing for me to admit that I was recently defrauded. I feel incredibly stupid for having fallen for it. Having spoken to my lawyer, however, I have been informed that this is a prevalent scam at the moment, so I felt it warranted to try and do something.

    On Sunday, April 19th, a man came to my door claiming to be the distribution company for Enbridge Gas with a logo substantiating this claim. He stated that he only needed to verify my contact information that I was with Enbridge to ensure that I received my first bill.

    I responded that my lawyer had given them the information and went to close the door. He then claimed that he only required me to verify the contact details and sign.

    After doing so, I was handed a pamphlet as he left. It turns out that he was not from Enbridge but from a company called Summitt Energy and that he had misled me into signing a 5 year contract with them.

    A quick google on the internet demonstrated that hundreds of people have fallen victim to this scam and many don’t realize until they are stuck.

    According to the pamphlet, I was free to cancel within 10 days but after sending several faxes, emails and registered letters I was told by their customer service that they could not find my account in the system and that I should ‘call back in a couple of days.’

    I have since discovered that they will never admit to having your account in the system when you are trying to cancel.

    Subsequent calls to the company were immediately disconnected without anybody answering. (As in somebody would place me in ‘priority sequence,’ pick up the phone and hang it up again.).

    When I employed *67, they answered and were just *shocked* that I had been repeatedly disconnected.

    After speaking with my lawyer, I elected to get in touch with head office in Mississauga and began calling them every 30 seconds on speed dial from several different phones, hiding my number so that I would not be disconnected and leaving messages on absolutely every extension and voicemail I could reach, telling them that I HAD spoken with my lawyer and would explore legal actions.

    The secretary tried to stop answering my calls, but I kept calling from different numbers.

    Finally, after doing this for several HOURS, they cancelled my contract, mostly just to get me to stop calling.

    There is a woman who is trying to do something about Summitt Energy, in particular. If you have a similar story to share you can contact her at: suzannanichols@gmail.com.

    For those who say these are reputable companies that have the potential of saving people money, I say: That is not the point. They are lying to people in order to get them to sign by misrepresenting themselves.

    Regardless of whether or not what they’re selling is a scam, the means to glean people’s signatures IS fraudulent. And the companies are in full knowledge of this.

    I am very angry and want to help bring this fraudulent company down.

  69. Joanne G.

    May 4 2009

    In January, I received a letter from Enersource stating that my bill was increasing from $180 to $302 a month due to rising costs. I was surprised and angry.

    I live in a small townhouse with my 3 adult children in Mississauga since 2005. My electric bill has tripled since I first moved in.

    We do have electric baseboard heaters. However, to compensate, ALL my light bulbs are energy savers along with my newly installed dishwasher.

    I immediately contacted Enersource and was told that my consumption has tripled since last year. But then I did a bit more digging and discovered that apparently I signed a contract from some Summitt Energy salesperson that came to my door!

    I know I didn’t sign it and sure enough, when requesting a copy of this contract, I discovered that it was signed by my son, who does NOT have signing authority in my absence. This is fraud!!

    I responded to them, along with Enersource, that I will be taking my case to a lawyer and they need to credit my account with all the charges since this contract was signed back in 2007.

    This is highway robbery but I promise that they haven’t heard the end of me!! I’ll keep you informed of my progress.
    Thanks, Joanne

  70. Jenny

    May 5 2009

    In June 2008 while moving into our first home (literally on moving day), my husband and I were approached by a marketer from Summitt who presented himself as an Enbridge employee. Bottom line, we thought we had to sign just to get gas services.

    Like many of you, we’ve been told by Summitt that the contract is valid since it was signed and we confirmed during the reaffirmation call. However, we currently have a case open with the OEB.

    There are two things that the marketer did that are against OEB rules and I encourage each of you who are “locked” in a contract to review:

    1) Did the marketer leave any marketing materials with you? Review these materials. If they include the logo of a utility (i.e. Enbridge) and include forecasts of future gas prices, this is against the rules and you might have a case.

    2) Are the signatures and initials on the contract your own? Clearly this is an issue and you can submit a forgery claim with the OEB.

    Our case is under review but I won’t stop until we are out of this contract. I encourage each of you to do the same.

  71. WOW!!!!

    May 16 2009

    I am in the middle of relocating… I was looking for a job in the city where I will be moving (London, Ont.)

    I replied to an ad for a customer service representative/sales associate! The wages are $800-$1,000 weekly + bonuses!!!

    Being naive and 20 years old, I thought WOW, I’ll be set for life… *(Thinking it was an office job)* I applied…

    I got an email back asking me to come in for an interview and it said that I would be assisting customers with filling out a registration for price protection. and would be dealing with home energy accounts. They also said they would give all the training necessary!!!

    I was so excited that I had an interview and might get a job that pays SOOOO much cash… I called my boyfriend’s mom and read her the email.

    She told me that this price protection for energy is a scam and that she was suckered into it, but was lucky enough to be able to cancel…

    Her point: “This is how the company scams people into working there… they make it sound like an ideal job, and getting tons of pay… like honestly, who wouldn’t want to make $1,000 a week!!!”

    She made me realize that the training provided is probably how to rip people off…

    Tonight, I just came on here to research the company and see if what she was saying is true. I am in complete shock and sick to my stomach…

    I can’t believe people can do this and trick people like myself into getting a great job with great pay. It’s pathetic…

    I would never want to work for a company like this. As soon as they told me I had to lie to people and cheat… all they would get from me is… I QUIT!!!! (No one can pay me enough to be a scam artist and live in regret EVERY DAY of my life!!!)

  72. Debbie L

    May 30 2009

    I have just had an encounter with Universal Energy company which demonstrates that they and thier employees are less than honest. The man at the door badgered me relentlessly but I refused to give him a copy of my utility bills, my utility account numbers or to sign anything. This all happened on the Victoria holiday weekend while I was entertaining my grandchildren. I started receiving phone calls from the company asking me to confirm my contract information and provide them with some additional information. Once again I refused but was told that I had signed a contract.

    I requested a copy of the “signed contract” and imagine my shock when I saw that someone had indeed forged a signature on a contract the sales rep had completed and that I had refused to sign. I refused at least 3x’s.

    So a word to the wise, If any of these energy resellers show up at your door, slam it as fast as you can. Never give them any personal information, not even your name and especially not your phone information.

  73. Odog

    Jun 23 2009

    A salesman from Summitt came to our door yesterday and in my search for information on this company I came across this web page.

    I’ve worked in the energy industry for many years (on the commercial and industrial side, not residential) and have some opinions that seem to be at odds with you and your readers.

    The angle that Summitt was using was that with smart meters and time-of-use electricity rates, our costs will increase. Well, maybe, and maybe not.

    He was quoting 7.5 cents/kWh (energy only) for the contract. A glance at the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) website shows that the 3-tier prices are 4.2, 7.6 and 9.1 cents/kWh.

    Let’s say that you’re not home during summer weekdays and you have your air conditioner set at maybe 26 to 28 degrees. Then, even at 9.1c/kWh, your cost may not be that much higher than if you were on a fixed price contract at 7.5 cents. But then on the weekends and overnight, when you are home and presumably using more electricity, you’ll be paying only 4.2 cents/kWh, rather than the fixed 7.5 cents.

    While these types of companies have used, and from the comments on your page still appear to use, deceptive selling practices, as you state, the business itself is not illegal – selling these contracts is not a scam in and of itself. From your readers’ experiences, perhaps HOW they sell them is. That’s where the overseers, like the OEB, should step in.

    You (rhetorically) ask how can people know where commodity prices are going? Well, that is precisely the point of this business and many other businesses isn’t it? One doesn’t know.

    Just like one doesn’t know where mortgage rates are going (should I float with a variable rate or lock in? for how long); just like one doesn’t know where the equity prices are going (should I buy stocks or mutual funds or a GIC and if a GIC, for how long?); I’m going to the US in a few weeks, should I buy USD now, or wait?; and one doesn’t know if one’s house will burn down, but most of us buy insurance even though I expect that the vast majority will never need it.

    Same with this business – if you are risk averse and don’t want to be surprised by high gas or electricity prices in the future, then buy this “insurance”. But there is no free lunch – these companies are in it to make money and in the end you will likely be paying more than if you just let your energy prices float.

    I have never bought an electricity or gas contract, and I believe that I’m further ahead, but a friend has, and even sought out a contract seller himself when his old gas contract was expiring.

    When these contracts first came out, I think that a number of purchasers ended up being further ahead. In the last little while, gas prices have come down a lot and people are now whining. I’m sure that they were pleased with themselves when their fixed price was less than the floating price.

    Will today’s low prices suppress gas exploration and lead to higher prices in a couple of years? I don’t know. No one does. But we do know that commodity prices are cyclical. If you want price assurance, then buy the “insurance”. If your energy costs are a small proportion of your overall budget, then don’t.

    And, if you want energy price insurance, just like with other insurance products, you probably don’t buy the first policy you see; you shop around to see who has the best price; you ask friends and neighbours.

    I was more than a bit disappointed by some of your questions (and implied answers) – you appear to believe that grown adults in this country should be treated like children – oh, I’m so helpless, please government, I don’t want to figure things out for myself; please just supply me with all of my services and charge me whatever you want so I don’t have to think for myself and take responsibility for my own actions.

    Why don’t you also advocate regulation of interest rates and stock prices? Even in spite of high pressure, no one can MAKE you sign a contract, but if you do, without reading it, then you have no basis for complaining.

    However, if it’s a clearly and provable fraudulent pitch, then that’s something else and you should take it to the regulator (in Ontario, it’s the Ontario Energy Board).

  74. Kevin

    Jun 30 2009

    I recently moved into a new home, I had a little under a week to get all my renovations completed (changing all the carpeting to laminate floors and painting the entire house etc) I work 9am-6pm sometimes monday to saturday, with the limited time I had I was super busy trying to make the proper arrangements etc to get everything done and even worked on the house til 1am sometimes and got 6 hours of sleep to work another 8-9 hour shift.

    On one of these fateful days a Summitt Energy employee rang my door bell, I could barely open the door as I had so many materials blocking the door way from the renovations (I’m sure he noticed this and how busy I was, and I’m sure he was already thinking in his head “jackpot, this guy should be easy”).

    He flashed his ID at me and I don’t even remember seeing what was on it, it was that quick, he spoke quick and kept mentioning the fact that he was basically part of power stream and I’d still be with power stream etc etc, he started to put my name down and wanted me to sign a registration form and I figured it was to get my power stream account setup, but ofcoure, this was not the case.

    Literally, 2-3 weeks later when everything had settled down I came to realize that he had power stream written on the registration form but it was under the name of Summitt energy and signed me up for a 3 year contract, at that moment in time I really wish he was still standing at my door because if I had known he was trying to deceive me that day 3 weeks ago and taking advantage of the fact that I just bought a new home and was insanely busy both at work and at home, I would’ve made him regret stepping onto my drive way to begin with.

    I don’t like the fact that he had my info to know that I was a new home owner and made it seem like he was with power stream, he knew I was in a rush and made it sound like what he was doing for me was for my benefit by making it “quick and easy” I cannot beleive this can actually happen and am completely appalled by the fact they do this!

    Beleive me, I will pass this information to everyone I know and make sure that one day the company goes under.

    I am sending a fax/email like the customer service rep told me to do over the phone in order to cancel the registration form, I hope she is not as deceptive as the guy who I saw that day, and I hope this is the end with them as I would never deal with them every again, if they had approached me in an honest manner I might consider them, but because they approached me in such a deceitful manner, I wish he could get fined or fired..

  75. Dominika

    Jul 8 2009

    Wow, this is astonishing. The same thing happened to me.

    As a student, I moved into an apartment and was required to pay my bills to Toronto Hydro. When a man knocked on my apartment door saying he was from Hydro (obviously under false pretences?) and also said I had to sign up for gas and that my rates would be fixed and would not go up, I signed.

    He had my first and last name, my address and a contract that said my provider was Toronto Hydro (??). He did not tell me that I was signing a 5 year contract. He took advantage of the fact that I was thinking it was Hydro and that I thought I had to sign up. I paid my Hydro bills every month.

    I moved in recently with my parents, having cancelled with Toronto Hydro and they forwarded the last bill I had to pay to my \new\ address. All in all, I paid it.

    Two days ago, I received a call from MTR collections, calling on behalf of Summitt Energy. I started thinking they were trying to pull the wool over my eyes. I researched MTR collections and found out where their main office is.

    I went down to the main office and spoke to a woman who said I had signed a contract with Summitt Energy for 5 years. I didn’t believe it and asked her for a copy of the contract and she provided me with one.

    I explained to her that this person had all my information. Clearly, I thought this was something I had to sign for with Toronto Hydro.

    She explained that I have to pay them $960 to cancel the contract. Summitt Energy never tried to contact me. On the contract, they have my address and phone number. Why didn’t Summitt call me themselves? Why do I have to deal with a collections agency? Why do they prey on innocent people under false pretenses?

    I don’t know where I’m going to get the money to pay them. I wish the deception stops on their part. An unfortunate lesson learned for me.

  76. Rick

    Jul 17 2009

    One of these Summitt guys came to my door today. I’ll admit, their sales pitch is good.

    I didn’t sign anything, not even initialize anything, since it didn’t feel right, and the guy left disappointed. However, he did have a look at my hydro bill and wrote some info down.

    Now I’m worried whether my signature is gonna be forged on that contract. I’ll have to keep a close eye on my bills in the coming months to make sure nothing changes.

  77. jodi mcivor

    Jul 23 2009

    RICK, you should phone your hydro company immediately and ask them to put a security question to validate that is you, such as social insurance number or whatever info they don’t have… before your account can be transferred. Hope this helps.

  78. I did it!!!

    Aug 4 2009

    I got out of my contract without having to pay any exit fees.

    After watching CBC Marketplace’s report, Power of Persuasion, I realized the agent who came to my door broke the Provincial Code of Conduct.

    I called and spoke to the head of the complaint department. Never raised my voice or swore and was always cool headed. I just kept repeating that their agent broke the code and cited which parts of the code they broke.

    I was insistent. I spoke to 4 people in the company to no avail. In fact, the head of complaints was really horrible to me.

    Then I wrote a letter to the CEO, Ontario Energy Board, CBC, my minister of the energy, basically everyone I could, asking to make sure my matter would not be dropped. I carbon copied all the people who received the letter to the CEO of the company.

    I received a call a week later, and at this point the supervisor of complaints was nice as pie. They tried to bargain with me, informing me they would pay for half of the cancellation fee and I would pay the other.

    I continued to insist that I did nothing wrong. Their agent broke the code at my door and I wanted to get out without exit fees.

    It took about 2 months, many phone calls, and a letter that I directed to about 16 people. It works if you are persistent, insistent, calm and you never admit that you made an error.

    You say that the code was broken at your door and that is the source of the problems. You would not have entered into a contract had your rights not been violated.

    Hope that helps.

  79. TCV

    Aug 18 2009

    ACTUALLY, MOST OF THESE POSTS ARE NOT TRUE!!
    People need to be more literate! C’mon! Seriously!

    I work for an Energy Retail Marketing Company called Summitt Energy. I know many people think that it is scam and crap..but thats bcoz you guys dont know how it works…just bcoz one person posts a comment saying they are scam and you want to be on the thread doesnt allow you to speak whatever the crap you want about the company!!

    LETS SEE! I’m an INDIAN…just an example…Just bcoz 100 Indians are considered to be poor doesnt mean that INDIA is poor. BCOZ OF 1 Salesperson who was sleazy does not imply that the whole COMPany is scam!! If it were scam I would not work for them at any cost!! The guys who think this is scam and all please call Summitt Energy/ Direct Energy and gain full information…It depends on you to get cheated or NOT. You’ve to make sure that what you have signed up for is true… Be civilized…Dont sign up for a bloody contract and then say “Oh crap I didnt intend too…” And Ellen, with all due respect,I think you must study more about this stuff before you simply create a bad impression on people’s minds..I’ve read lot about you too… ALL SALESPERSONS ARE NOT DEVILS…THere are people who do their job the right way…If I want I can simply spoil someone’s name by begining a rumor…Everyone makes mistakes but you have to look at the positive sides…

    HOPE THIS HELPS!!!

  80. Jo ann malysh

    Sep 15 2009

    I “fell” for the deceptive marketing practice of the Summitt Energy salesperson a year ago.

    It was about the 5th visit and he was insistent that “all my neighbours were signing up,” “prices were going to go up,” etc.

    When I asked him specifically “what happens if the price goes down?” he told me that “I was protected – the price would go down automatically.” He showed me their price guarantee and their “peace of mind” guarantee.

    I am now paying over double the going rate that Terasen Gas (the provincial supplier) charges here in B.C. The rate at Terasen will soon be $4.97 per GJ and I am locked into a contract of $11.99 per GJ for the next 4 years. The rate did not go down automatically.

    When I called the company, their response was to offer me a reduced rate of $11.25 per GJ and I would have to extend my contract for an additional year. I was given 2 days to decide if I wanted to accept their offer, which I didn’t.

    I have formally complained about them to the B.C. Gas Securities Commission, Terasen Gas and the Better Business Bureau. I don’t think I will be able to get out of this contract without paying a penalty, which will amount to about $600 (by my calculations in trying to read their contract).

    I don’t have “peace of mind” about this situation. Instead, I am frustrated and anxious and have pretty much eliminated the use of hot water and heating of my home!!!

  81. Mera

    Sep 23 2009

    Today is the 4th time that Summitt Energy has come to my door after I told them the first 3 times to leave us alone.

    He insisted on coming in after I told him to get off my property. I said no, leave my property or I’ll call the police. He proceeded to hurl insults and the f-word repeatedly.

    And you think it’s not a scam? I think it’s a scam to tell people that they’re offering a lower price and then the bill is higher – up to 5 times higher!

    Only a scamming company would hire people to harass a nursing mommy repeatedly.

    Next time, I’ll tell him to just wait on the porch, while I call the police and let them explain what harrassment means — because apparently Summitt Energy doesn’t know.

    Extremely Frustrated in Hamilton

  82. scrimador

    Nov 6 2009

    Nov 2009: Two sales scammers from Summitt Energy came to the door, presenting a hydro bill and trying to mislead me into believing that they’re from the utility company.

    I suggest that they properly identify themselves in the future, and BTW, let me see your ID. At that point both took off their badges, became abusive and scurried away like roaches.

    Good Bye, Summitt Energy.

  83. David

    Nov 15 2009

    Past energy-salesman here from B.C. I worked for Energy Savings and Summitt Energy.

    I want to say that, in short, the problem lies with the managers: They recruit dishonestly, and spend way more time hyping up the incentive of greed in their door-knockers than actually training them how the business works.

    Read on if you want to know snippets of my experience.

    When they hired me, they didn’t really tell me what they did. They just promised $25+ an hour in their classified ad. I’m a University student looking for a job, so looks like a great deal (I’m sure it looks like a great deal to a lot of other greedy people out there).

    Of course, I asked the obvious question when I called them: “What do you actually do?”. I was convinced I would be underqualified for a $25/hr job, so wanted to make sure the job was a good match and if so how best to write my resume. What I got in return was a very ambiguous response.

    That’s just to give you an idea of the recruiting tactics. This attracted all sorts of types.

    First there were the students like me, high school and up. Some were honest, most would learn to follow bad examples.

    Next were the kids not going to school. They tended to be a lot worse… they would walk around to read people’s gas meter after asking for their bill, to look like they were from the gas company. Some even threw drinks at salespeople on the street from competing companies while driving by… All they wanted were nice cars and nice clothes.

    There were also the odd middle aged folks. A TV actor who needed extra cash between times, housewives who were retired. There was even a homeless person who had moved out from Ontario, who was doing pretty well off of it.

    Now you have this crowd of folks getting hired, who are already deceived to some degree. We get a quick intro to how the business works, hyped up with the amazing things we’ll be buying earning $2000+ per week. (At least 5 contracts a day will get you that, not too hard right?… I don’t know about Ontario, but try it some day in B.C… pretty tough.)

    Now if anybody has read this far, this is where the crux of what I’m building up to lies: It’s with the sales management. All of their sales managers are door-knockers who’ve worked up from the bottom. They don’t give a rip about hard data, honesty and all that (unless it actually gets you a baseline of sales per week).

    *** They spend way more time hyping up their door-knockers with greed than teaching them about how the business works ***

    I hope my point is clear. I put it at the top too.

  84. David

    Nov 15 2009

    On the other side of things, though:

    Please be careful before being grumpy to door-knockers. Some of them are nice people like me, who want you to get a good deal even though they might not know everything they are talking about.

    All of them have to work hard, constantly walking all day, probably thirsty or not able to use the washroom until the rendezvous with their manager and they get a ride home.

    Also it’s easy to come off deceptive without even meaning to, just because of your assumptions. You assume that the door-knocker is from the gas company even without them saying a word, though they’re wearing hats, jackets and badges that have a company name other than the name of your utility.

    Don’t bite the head off the kid because he’s the 10th guy coming to your door. I had a guy spend 10 minutes swearing and yelling that he’d get his lawyer to sue me (he didn’t look like he could afford a steak let alone a lawyer). This guy didn’t know that there were tens of companies running around, he thought there was only one. Instead of biting the kid’s head off like he did, please:

    –Get the name of the company and the phone number of the office where the door-knocker is based.

    –Get the name of the kid’s manager and his phone number and any other info on the company you can.

    –And THEN complain.

    Much more effective if you really want to get mad. The kid can’t do anything, he has 25 out of the 250 doors he knocks on get mad at him every single day, and what good did that do?

    OK, random rant again. I should just write a book about my experience or something. You sure get to know what your city is like when they’re in a grumpy mood.

  85. Kalleigh

    Jan 8 2010

    Ha! And to think I was about to go to a job interview there tomorrow. There add says $850/week, fully paid training, no experience necessary. Now they are located in Scarborough. Geeze I’m really glad I didn’t take the trip from Oshawa all the way there to realize how bogus it was. Thank you.

  86. Amanda

    Jan 14 2010

    Unfortunately, I fell for this scam. I am a single mother and was totally misinformed. These people are brutal.

    I signed this contract in October 2005. I called Union Gas recently just to see if I have actually saved money over the 4 years. And indeed I have lost money every month!

    Their claim that I would save money and the price of gas would go up is a total lie!!

    The only good thing that came out of all this is that I have learned my lesson to never ever trust someone who comes to your door to try to sell you something — and never sign anything that you are unsure of!

    Every other month, I have these sales people(if that’s what you would like to call them/or for lack of a better word) come to my door and ask for my hydro or gas bill.

    Now I tell them they are a scam and I make sure all my neighbours hear it too! These companies need to be out of business!!!

  87. Eddie

    Jan 16 2010

    I was a victim as well of this Summitt Energy thing. Aside from making sure we cancel this outrageous contract before its expiration (to make sure they will not automatically renew it), is there anything that can be done that other people will not be victimized by this monster? Is there any initiative done already to get somebody’s attention to protect consumers like us from this kind of thing?

  88. Shona

    Jan 18 2010

    How can this company with so many complaints still be in business? Apparently fine they were given was not big enough.

  89. Steve

    Jan 24 2010

    I’ve had Summitt Energy come to my door 3 times in the past 2 years. The last time they came, I swear this kid was 14 years old!!

    Each time has been a unique experience and I admit the first time I was stupid and signed up and with this kid. The best part was when he told me that all the complaints online were lies!!

    Anyone who defends themselves as being a “nice” door to door salesperson needs to realize something. You ARE bothering people and disruptiing their day/night, no matter what way you try to spin it, so of course they’re going to be grumpy.

    In my opinion, a product or company should sell itself and not be shoved in your face with sleazy and shady tactics! Ever wonder why there isn’t a ton of companies out there using door to door sales??? It’s because it doesnt work and represents bad business tactics! If it worked everyone would be doing it and they’re not!!!

  90. Cheryl

    Jan 25 2010

    Is there a class-action lawsuit in the works against Summitt Energy? If not, let’s get it done!!!!

  91. Suzana

    Jan 28 2010

    Please help. I was stupid, I admit, in signing with Summitt. It has been at least two years now and I’ve called several times to cancel my contract. Each time, the person on the other end tells me they’ll send the bill for the fee for canceling, then nothing happens.

    I can’t sleep at night. The stress caused by this is unbelievable.

    Even if I suck it up and wait for the contract to run out, who is to say they won’t just sign me on again? I never received the confirmation call or the contract package ….

  92. GP

    Feb 1 2010

    I am also victim of Summitt Energy and a first time new home owner.

    After I was not even settled down, a gentleman appeared and told me he is from the Ontario Govenment and he protects rights of New Home Owners and helps them.

    He talked about smart meters and finally told me to sign a contract and assured me government was looking for my best interest.

    I did not even at that time know what is the rate for these utilities.

    He told me he was giving the same price as my company, 34 cents for gas. But I checked and it was 14 cents.

    I called them and they are not listening. They talk like gangsters and told me I have to pay heavy amount for cancellations (around $2,000).

    How I can get rid of this? I am paying triple the market rate for both Hydro and Gas.

    If anyone can help me against this, I mean OEB or Police.

  93. Suzana Banaszkiewicz

    Feb 7 2010

    Ms. Roseman,

    A couple of days ago I received an e-mail from Tamara Sinson, a Compliance Specialist at Summitt Energy, advising me that my contract has been cancelled.

    Thank you very much for your help; this is a great relief.
    Suzana
    PS I am enclosing Ms. Sinson’s details, in case that can be helpful to anyone.

    Tamara Sinson

    Compliance Specialist

    Summitt Energy Management
    100 Milverton Dr, Suite 608
    Mississauga, On
    L5R 4H1
    Tel#: (905) -366-7037
    Fax: (905) -366-7063

  94. Judy C

    Feb 10 2010

    It is definitely buyer beware. My husband (not at that time) signed a contract with Universal Energy a few years back. When we moved just recently, we no longer needed gas service because the heat is included in our rent. We cancelled our service with the gas company and thought everything was ok.

    We had several phone calls from Universal Energy requesting (actually demanding) our new address, so they could transfer our account. Yes, my husband was a little peeved (understated), informing them we no longer need their service.

    We then get a statement from a Collection Service stating that we owe Universal Energy $656, due and payable with the termination of the SUPPLY AGREEMENT.

    As I said “peeved” is understated. Had this been investigated prior to signing this agreement with a door to door salesman, this would never have happened. I’m not blaming my husband. I’m sure this salesmen was probably very convincing.

    We were very fortunate. When we called the gas company, they told us that that contract expired the year prior. We still had to provide verification from our new landlord that our heat was included in our rental agreement.

    I would never want any one to get caught up in that kind of a situation. So I say to everyone: read, investigate, ask questions and above all “no door to door salesmen” !!

  95. Bruce

    Feb 16 2010

    I just had someone from Summitt Energy come to the door, stating that he is checking the neighbourhood to confirm that we are properly registered for some green service as required by the Ontario government.

    I asked “Are you sent by the Ontario government?” He said that he is confirming if residents are set up.

    I asked “Are you canvassing on behalf of Summitt Energy to get me to change to your company for gas?” He said “I am not trying to get you to change anything. I’m here to confirm that you are registered for the green program as required by the Ontario government.”

    I asked “Do you work for Summitt Energy?” He said “Yes.”

    I told him I don’t know anything about Summitt Energy. At which point, he muttered something under his breath, turned around and walked away.

    It is NO ONE’S right to see my bills except ME! Summitt Energy’s sales rep misrepresented himself as though he was sent by the Ontario Government to check that things are registered correctly. This is fraud. This is illegal.

  96. Ashton

    Feb 20 2010

    I just kicked out two reps from Summit Energy. I have to say their timing was perfect as it was a Saturday and we just got the new variable electricity rate notice in the mail. A person who is not knowledgeable about the changes could easily fall for their trick. I think this door to door technique should be illegal. Unfortunately, the concept of a “free market” in Ontario means you can do anything to sell or cheat a customer. Good luck undoing your mistake and taking a legal action against the preyer.

  97. JLD

    Mar 1 2010

    I just want to share what happened last Saturday.

    A young guy rings my doorbell. I have a sign that clearly says “NO SOLICITORS”.

    I see that the guy has a badge that says “Summit Energy”. I immediately say “I am not interested!”. He replies” You don’t know what you’re not interested in”. I point to the sign and says “Yes I know why you’re here and look it says no solicitor”. At that point a 2nd guy suddenly shows up from nowhere (from behind the garage) and he says, and I quote :”We’re not here to play solitaire Sir. We’re here to check your gas”. I say “Look it says NO SOLICITOR. Leave!”. He replies with a smart ass attitude “I told you we’re not here to play solitaire. we’re here to check your gas!”

    At that point I blew it “You $#%# liar! Get the #%#% out of my property NOW!. etc… “. You see the point. The guy doesn’t leave! He calmly pulls out his phone. A THIRD guy shows up. “What is the problem sir!” At this point I’m screaming at them calling them all kind of names “Leave my property NOW you #$%#% piece of ****!”

    Anyway, my piece of advice: If you see someone knocking at your door wearing a Summit Energy badge, close the door immediately and don’t think twice!!! …and get ready to call the police. They are obviously trained to use bully tactics.

    Avoid SUMMIT ENERGY at all cost!

  98. CJP

    May 27 2010

    I might as well add my experience to the long and growing list…

    My girlfriend and I moved into our new house yesterday. I am not exaggerating when I say that not even a single box had been taken off the moving truck before a representative of Summitt Energy was at our door, explaining that we had to register our new account.

    I explained that we had already set up our account with Enbridge and we did not wish to use Summitt, thank you very much. The pressure continued much as described in other postings above: “we can save you money; the previous owners of this house were with Summitt, so we’re just continuing the account with you; it’s just a standard procedure to register; please just sign here.”

    Fortunately, we had done some research on utilities prior to moving from a condo to a house and, thanks to articles like this one, we were well prepared to deal with these guys and the others that will surely follow. We know for a fact that the previous owners of our house had been using Enbridge directly, so the Summitt rep’s assertion that we should “continue the account” was an outright lie.

    Way to build that reputation, Summitt – keep it up.

  99. Mohit

    Oct 7 2010

    Here’s my piece of story about Summitt Energy and Direct Energy:

    I came to know about your article from a colleague of mine at work. We actually discussed this matter yesterday and he showed me your article on newspaper today.

    I am the 20th victim of Summitt energy sales abuse. My electricity bill went up by $100 and I was looking at the details of the differences and this is where I found out about Summitt Energy being my supplier of electricity.

    I didn’t know who Summitt Energy was, so I called Toronto Hydro to ask about them. They told me Summitt Energy is my supplier of electricity and I have a contract with them. I checked with my wife, who was not aware of signing or met with anyone about this contract.

    I called Summitt and asked when the contract took effect and who signed for it. They said it took effect on January 2007 and it expires in January 2011.

    I told them it’s a mistake because neither I nor my wife signed any contract with them. She said my wife signed this contract.

    I asked them to fax me a copy of the contract and when I checked it, to my surprise, the signature is not even my wife’s. Check this out, the contract states it’s for electricity and for gas, but I am only being charged for electricity and not for gas.

    I called Toronto Hydro and they asked me to file a complaint at OEB. I called OEB yesterday and filed this complaint.

    Just for my own curiousity, I checked if there was any problem with my gas bill. Guess what, I didn’t know when Direct Energy became my supplier of gas. I was always with Embridge in the past and didn’t know when this happened.

    I called Direct Energy and asked about this change and when it took place and if I have signed a contract with them. The rep told me the acceptance date was Dec. 13, 2006 and the contract expires in December 2011.

    The representative said I either signed a contract or verbally approved this contract through a phone call. I said to her I never approved such contracts over the phone.
    I asked my wife, but she doesn’t remember and she thought we are with Enbridge.

    I asked Direct Energy to fax me a copy of the contract or mail it to me. It takes between 2 to 30 days for it to come. I am still waiting to see this new surprise.

    What is confusing is that there’s some hardware that we pay monthly to Direct Energy and very often we received calls from them to buy a protection plan on those hardware. I believe we purchased the protection plan, but other than that my wife and I do not recall signing a contract with Direct Energy.

    However, if they called and represented themselves as Enbridge about the monthly equal payment plan, then we might have accepted it, understanding that we are with Enbridge and not Direct Energy.

    I asked for both the contract, if there’s any, and also a review of the phone conversation, if there’s any. I am waiting.

    This make me feel that both Summitt Energy and Direct Energy are together playing this game. If I have a contract for both electricity and gas with Summitt Energy and another contract for gas with Direct Energy, why am I not being charged for gas by Summitt? Did they talk to each other and kept things quiet?

    Let’s find out soon.

    I can’t believe what I found out in the last couple of days. I am just appalled by this type of business by energy companies. I will keep you posted on the Direct Energy issue when I hear or read from them.

    In a way, thank you Toronto Hydro for raising your electricity price. Otherwise I wouldn’t go into details about my bill and know about these scammers.

  100. Pat

    Jan 29 2011

    A Summitt Energy guy came to my door and I chased him off my porch with my kids Sponge Bob toy!! These guys should be banned!

    “Can I see your account number?” Who the hell are these guys to ask for my account number? I honestly think this should be illegal! Come on City, ban these fools!!

  101. Tiffany

    Mar 31 2011

    Hello, I just read all of this and would just like to inform people that I will be going and protesting at Summitt Energy on Monday.

    I had a man show up at my door over a year ago, telling me he was with Enbridge Gas. He needed me to fill out this form. He did not show me an I.d. tag or give me what i signed.

    I have been trying to deal with this for over a year now, with Summitt Energy blocking many of the phone numbers I have been calling from. They have sent me to collections for $1,200.

    I refuse to pay this amount, but I am in the process of opening up my own business and cannot get a loan or credit cards with this hanging over my head.

    I have contacted the Ontario Energy Board. Summitt keeps replying to my emails with “we will contact you on the last day of the deadline,” pretty much saying screw you, we don’t care.

    I am extremely upset and I am willing to bring the news media into this, along with lawyers.

  102. Maria

    Apr 28 2011

    I am Spanish. NORMALLY I don’t take telemarketer calls, but I made a big mistake in my life.

    I did not want to be rude, so I signed a contract with Summitt, but I didn’t know it was a contract. They were offering very low prices. I just wanted to save some money.

    In April 2011, I received a bill. I WAS in shock because they charged more money, plus some fee for Global adjustment. My hydro bill is 100 dollars more.

    I didn’t sign for gas. I hope that every thing is ok with gas.

    I called them, saying I wanted to do a cancellation, but they told me that I have to be responsible for 5 years, even if I sell my house.

    If you know about it, please let me know. Thank you.

  103. Metalo

    Jun 4 2011

    Hello Maria, just close your account with hydro and enbridge and open a new one that same day under someone with a different last name.

    Don’t bother wasting your time with these vultures that will try to scare you. If you sell your house, their contract is cancelled. They will send the owed money to a collection agency. It may hurt your credit record, though.

    Hey Tiffany, that’s very brave of you. We need to stand up to these thieves. I wish you the best. I also got screwed. The agent even had an Enbridge badge with photo name and logo. I hope everything goes well and they go to jail.

  104. Aydin

    Nov 15 2011

    Hello, same thing here, signed a contract with them and I cannot believe I did this because I simply believed what the Salesperson has told me.

    It has been three years and my rates are tripled. I did not check my bills but simply paid, as I knew something was wrong but had no time to call them.

    Finally, I have lost my job. As a result, I try to survive and reduce my expenses.

    Since I have some time, I called Summitt Energy and asked them to cancel my account with them as I am paying triple the rate of Union Gas. Gentleman was nice and said he would cancel the account if I provide a confirmation that I have lost my job. I am in the middle of doing that.

    Yes, they are scams. I have their brochure saying that gas rates will increase 35-45%, but in fact they are down. So I will try the BBB to see any help from there to get some of the money I paid already.

    I am going to put up a sign indicating that no soliciting, especially Summitt & Direct Energy.

  105. ned

    Jan 18 2012

    This thread is a little old, but… Summitt Energy came to my door last night and convinced me to sign.

    However, they did not get my hydro account number from me. Does that mean they can’t do anything?

    Thanks for your help… after researching this company online. I am really starting to become worried.

  106. brian

    Feb 24 2013

    is there any class action against these companies?

  1. Door to Door Energy Sales « HRBuckley.Net
  2. Summit Energy Scam or Legit? | KeyFrame5

Leave a comment