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. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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!!!)

  4. 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.

  5. 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).

  6. 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..

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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!!!

  12. 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!!!

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!!!

  19. 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?

  20. 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.

  21. 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!!!

  22. Cheryl

    Jan 25 2010

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

  23. 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 ….

  24. 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.

  25. 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

  26. 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” !!

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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!

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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!!

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. brian

    Feb 24 2013

    is there any class action against these companies?

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