February 8, 2002
A document released Feb. 6, 2002, by Opposition leader Dalton McGuinty shows that Direct Energy is continuing to mislead consumers. See previous Energy Probe reports on these problems at: http://www.energyprobe.org/energyprobe/index.cfm?DSP=titles&SubID=623.
The document – a Direct Energy Q&A intended for training door-to-door sales staff – contains a number of misleading statements.
Q. Thank you for coming, but I would like to wait and see who else is offering discounts and what their programs are.
A. Thanks Sir/Madam. Normally, it might be practical to wait and check out [the] competition. However, in this case, right now there is only your current utility or Direct Energy. There are no other companies active in the residential and small business market and your price may go up before other competitors arrive. Therefore, you can continue to pay more for your electricity with no price guarantee or you can register now, pay less and have price protection that will last for five years. All you need to start is one of your recent Electricity bills, could you get one now please.
Consumers should be aware that there are three other marketers offering electricity contracts in the Ontario residential and small business market: Ontario Hydro, Toronto Hydro, and First Energy. Consumers should also be aware that wholesale prices for electricity are currently falling in neighboring electricity markets that are open for competition. Wholesale prices in neighboring U.S. states is well below the current wholesale price you are now being charged. The most recent new entrant in the marketing field has also introduced the lowest priced offering so far.
Q. I want to stay with my local Electric Company.
A. Your local Electric Company will continue to serve and bill you as always. Direct Energy just makes sure you pay the best price. All you need to start is one of your recent Electricity bills, could you get one now please.
The prices Direct Energy are offering appear to be lower than your current price but are approximately 20 per cent to 40 per cent higher than your current price. Of all the offers available from marketers, Direct Energy’s are currently the highest-priced.
Of the 17 recommended responses outlined in Direct Energy’s sales training information, 15 suggest asking the customer to show their utility bill to the marketer agent. Energy Probe has previously warned consumers not to allow energy marketers see your household electricity bills. Refer: http://www.energyprobe.org/energyprobe/index.cfm?DSP=content&ContentID=3176.
Consumers should be careful to prevent marketers from obtaining their confidential customer numbers without consent.