It’s the time of year for door-to-door pitches to get you to switch your energy provider, but consumers need to be wary of shady sales tactics.
Norm Krebs of Dayton said he was pressured into an energy contract with a new supplier. Instead of saving money, as he was promised — his bill skyrocketed.
He listened to a pitch from a salesperson from Statewise Energy LLC.
“He said ‘we can save you money. We can save you up to 45 percent,’” Krebs said.
He said he was handed a blank contract and then the salesperson told him to speak with another salesperson over the phone.
“It was supposed to be after he left. This is where it gets interesting,” Krebs said. “They asked me specifically has the salesman left the premises.”
Krebs said the salesman was still in his home and told Krebs to lie.
"The rules specifically state that the salesperson cannot be present for this exact reason — the purpose of a third party verification call is to assure that the customer is fully and accurately informed," said Kim Norris, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio public affairs director.
Krebs said when he got his bill it was 45 percent higher. He tried to cancel but was told he’d have to pay a $500 cancellation fee. He did a search online and found a long list of complaints similar to his.
Statewise has an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Krebs contacted this reporter and filed a complaint with the PUCO as suggested. Soon after Statewise waived the cancellation fees.
“I’m just glad there was an avenue to go to, to get it fixed,” Krebs said.
PUCO has a website where you can compare energy suppliers to find out which one is a good fit for your needs. It can be found here: http://www.energychoice.ohio.gov/.
"Statewise Energy takes complaints very seriously. We have a very stringent door-to-door sales process that goes beyond the requirements under the Ohio Public Utilities code," said Jeff Donnelly, director of regulatory affairs and compliance and chief privacy officers with Statewise Energy, in a statement.
According to Donnelly, an investigation was conducted into Krebs complaint and Statewise found Krebs allegations were not supported by the third party verification call, in which Krebs said the sales representative was no longer present and that he had a signed copy of the contract with him.
Donnelly also stated that "Krebs did not contact Statewise Energy during the cooling off period, but rather waited 4 months before contacting Statewise Energy to request cancellation."