My letter to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) about Just Energy
Posted by peeterjoot on January 7, 2011
The Just Energy customer service people contacted me today, since they’d read my complaint letter to the OEB about my case. Basically it was explained to me that I’m screwed. This company cannot afford to cancel the contract that I did not sign nor know about because they have purchased the gas upfront at the rate in effect when my ex-wife signed the renewal agreement. What a load of crap!
What is true, is that they have no sense of fairness. Only the bottom line to the shareholder matters. This is a company that tries to stay under the radar. They don’t want you to remember that you have a Just Energy contract, so that you won’t feel inclined to question whether the rate that you are paying is a good one. This is why they don’t send renewal paperwork and only use telephone confirmation. Most people will end up blindly paying the bills without questioning, and this company profits massively. And if you want to get out, prepare to pay through your teeth.
This was my complaint letter to the OEB. Just Energy has now received this too since I also emailed them letting them know I’d done so.
In 02/12/2003 after much badgering by door to door salesmen and my father in law who repeatedly asked me if I had “signed a fixed rate contract yet”, I submitted, and signed a 5 year agreement with Ontario Energy Savings.
I had never been happy with my decision to do so since it was based on sales pressure, rather than an intelligently researched decision, but once I had done so it wasn’t possible to change it due to the cancellation fees. I had no intention to renew that contract, and thought I had let it expire.
It came as a rude suprise when I found that I still had such a contract in 2009. The way that I found this out was that after I moved a collections agency notification had been sent to us by Just Energy’s collectors, “Bond Street Collections Inc.” for $448.06, stating that:
“Your outstanding account has been assigned to our office because you have failed to pay this bill in an acceptable period of time.
Failure to remit payment within 7 days of receipt will result in one or more of the following:
Recommendation that our client proceed with immediate legal action
Impact your credit rating
Escalated collection activity
Please forward payments to our office immediately!
Having a poor credit rating will affectyou in the future. You may be declined future credit or financing.
Govern yourself accordingly,
This is a rather intimidating method of first contact. It did not go over well with my ex-wife who recieved the mail. No other contact from the company stating that any bill was due was recieved by either of us, and our post-separtion mail forwarding was active and working fine. I’d also been at the old marital home a few times and the new owner had not recieved any of our mail erroneously.
After a long call to Just Energy, on Nov 22, 2010, I was able to find out that they claimed to have had a renewal contract signed by my ex-wife and that one of us was obligated to assume the contract under replacing our current gas provider as a supplier. Since my ex-wife had moved out far out of the area, that left me with the obligation. After repeated calls they were finally able to send a copy of the renewal agreement, verifying that my ex had indeed signed it. To the best of my knowledge we never recieved any paperwork with confirmation of this renewal, nor were we left with a copy of the renewal agreement. I do not know what was said to my ex-wife to get her to sign, but I suspect it was while she was in the middle of preparing dinner for the kids, at a point where she was not in a position to carefully reflect on the implications of the signature. By 12/23/2010 after repeated calls, I finally recieved a copy of the contract that my ex-wife had signed.
When we originally signed this agreement, it was presented as a guarenteed savings method. When questioned on the phone to determine whether or not I did even save money on average with their company, they claimed that “this is hard to tell.”, and that the information is widely available. Later, when pressed, I was told that I had paid 1c more per cubic meter on average using the Just Energy supplier. The information is not “hard to tell” apparently. Instead this company’s employees seem to be operating under a policy that requires them to deliberately mislead, instead of providing information.
With confirmation that Just Energy did not save us money for the duration that we used them as a supplier I told the Just Energy representitive that I was not interested in continuing to use their services. Instead I was going to pay the cancellation fees (close to $450 as stated above in the collections letter), and my ex-wife and I were going to split the cost. There was an interesting change to the sales pitch at that point. They then claim that Just Energy isn’t a savings company. Instead they provide insurance and peace of mind. You can know that you can lock into a fixed rate, so that if the rates do go up you will at least not have to pay more than an well known and expected amount. Like any insurance policy there is a cost to the “peace of mind”, and that you will not save money by purchasing insurance. This is a company that relies on motivating fear of the unknown to attempt to coersce potential customers to use their services.
With a final refusal to agree to a fixed term contract at a rate of 26c/cubic-meter when enbridge was charging 17c, they offered me a floating rate at the gas company’s distribution cost in order to keep my business. This seemed like the cheapest alternative and I agreed to do so. The alternative was a requirement to ante-up $450 or deal with the collections agency and threats of law suits.
If it were not for the coersive pressure to assume the contract at my new residence I’d have nothing more to do with this company. It should be plainly stated by the sales people what the cost implication to breaking the contract or renewing it would be. There ought to be a stated explicitly by the salespeople that this is a contract that will remain in effect after a move, even a move involving marrital separation (something that is difficult enough to deal with without collections agencies being introduced). The fact that this company appears to use collections agencies as a method of first contact is, frankly, disgusting. However, I’m not suprised that they do so. It is effective to be threatened with legal action and credit rating loss, so I suspect that most recieving such a notification of post-move contract continuation, will just submit and pay the fees without further fight.
How is is that this company can be allowed to charge such exorbitant cancellation fees in the first place? If they were providing a service that had any sort of honest value add they would not need to do so.
It is my personal belief that I was not informed of the implications of this contract, nor was my ex-wife when she renewed it. It seems reasonable to me that under the circumstances this contract should be invalidated without fee, but the company is not willing to do so. It will hopefully not cost me anything more to use their floating rate distribution service than I would pay using Enbridge gas, but I suspect this will not be easy to determine. Out of principle I’d still like this contract terminated, since it is my preference to not do business with companies that do not behave with customer interest in mind.
- flat fee for “adminstrative costs” … a pure profit mechanism that isn’t justified in any way IMO.
- a higher than the gas company floating rate.