Just Energy Canada nasty business practices.
Posted by Peeter Joot on December 23, 2010
I’ve just had the unfortunate experience of dealing with the Just-Energy company. Years ago, after turning down the endless stream of pushy door to door energy salespeople, I had on the advise of my father in law I signed up with one of these fixed price gas distributors, specifically, Just Energy. I was never comfortable with that decision after the fact since I expected some sort of minimal exposition of the rates that I was paying vs. the utility rates, to validate that I was paying less on average, or if I wasn’t, at least inform me of the fact so that I could make an informed decision about renewal.
Because of the opacity of this company’s dealings I had no intention of renewing. I didn’t know that my (now) ex-wife had submitted to one of the same pushy door to door sales people, and had signed on for renewal. I am guilty of not looking at my gas bills closely enough and didn’t even notice the fact that the gas distributor on the Enbridge bill had not reverted to just plain old Enbridge at floating rates.
That renewal was in 2007, and obligated us to a fixed rate contract until 2013. One thing that the pushy door to door salespeople never tell you is that they impose humongous exit fees for their contract, and that the fine print in the contract also requires the contract to migrate with you if you move. In our case, both of us moved, and we were never contacted about any sort of continuance obligation. Mail forwarding for both of us was working fine, but there was never any attempt for Just Energy to contact us. Instead what they do is try to intimidate you into the continuance by immediately sending collections agency’s after you. That is a very underhanded, almost mobster, approach in my opinion. They claim to have sent a letter before the collections agency, but I don’t actually believe them. It would be interesting to talk confidentially to one of their employees to see what their internal policies actually are. I’d not be surprised at all, if collections agency before contact, is part of their standard operating procedure.
So it was a rather rude surprise when my ex-wife called me rather perturbed saying that their was a collections agency after her for a just energy bill and threatened court action on non-payment for a sum of about $450! This is the way that this company appears to work to force you into contract continuance on move. Calling in about this I got nothing but a runaround, over and over again. They claimed to have my ex-wife’s signature on file for the renewal, and it took over a month and a half of calling to try to get a verification that this was in fact the case. I’d asked them to email me and my ex a copy of this document, and they said they could only surface mail it. I never did receive anything from them, but my ex did. She also received more collections notices. They are very fast sending those and have absolutely no trouble doing so.
Eventually, they admitted that they could email this, perhaps after I’d been on the phone with them for at least an hour and a half over all the various repeated attempts to see if I really did have some sort of contractual obligation to continue dealing with them. For some reason it took them over two weeks to produce this email. In that interval, they had no problem sending their collections arm after my ex once again.
I had no intention of dealing with their fixed term contract business if they did provide a copy of a valid contract, and my ex and I decided to split the cost of the contract termination fee. That exorbitant $450 split two ways would probably have been cheaper than continuing to deal with them further. One of the phone support people (perhaps the third one I had I talked to) let it slip that I could get out of the fixed term contract by assuming the contract at a variable rate. The variable rate that he quoted was what was on my gas bill, so I’m hoping that they do not inflate that too. They did verify in the end that I’d paid more with them, than I would have had I not been on a fixed term contract, something that is in sync with other information that you can easily find about others experiences with this company.
- Energy sellers face total of $305,000 in fines
Because of the gouging prices they impose for contract termination, and the availability of the unadvertised variable rate, I did end up assuming this last bit of old marital baggage without a fixed price. Once this contract expires I’ll never ever ever have anything to do with this company again and will not hesitate in supplying the same advice to anybody. Their logo should probably be beside unethical in the dictionary.