Hot Line: Complaints to BBB raise red flag about Just Energy
“There were two young women at my door,” a telephone caller told Hot Line. “They were trying to get me to sign up to have my electricity from a company called Just Energy. I didn’t sign up for it, but I was curious about it. What can you find out?
Just Energy’s headquarters is in Ontario, Canada, but it has many offices in the United States including Beachwood, Columbus and Rocky River. It sells both gas and electricity, depending on location.
The Better Business Bureau report shows the BBB has processed 561 complaints against Just Energy in the past three years, 197 of which were closed in the past 12 months. The BBB’s records state that the business has a large volume and pattern of complaints concerning misleading sales practices, salespeople giving prospective customers false information and using high pressure sales tactics. The report said the company has been notified of the BBB’s concerns but has failed to correct the underlying reason for the complaints.
Government action was taken against the company at Ontario, Canada, where it also is known as Hudson Energy. On Aug. 25, 2011, the Ontario, Canada Energy Board issued a written notice that it intended to make enforcement orders related to allegations of the company’s not complying with the Energy Consumer Protection Act of 2010, according to the Ontario Energy Board’s Website.
The alleged violations included omitting required statements in contracts and sales agents not revealing their true identities to consumers. The company promised to comply and to pay an $80,000 administrative penalty.
On this Website,
www.citizensutilityboard.org/news20100224_CBS2JustEnerg.Sy.html is a report of complaints to the Citizens Utility Board of Illinois detailing allegations of deceptive sales practices by representatives of Just Energy, formerly called U.S. Energy. The Illinois attorney general settled the matter by accepting Just Energy’s agreement not admitting guilt but agreeing to improve its sales practices.
On its own Web site, Just Energy lists the electric companies in Ohio with which it can compete. They include Ohio Power Co., a member of AEP which serves this area.
Anyone considering switching utilities should be vigilant in reading every word of the contract, especially the small print. It’s an excellent idea to keep the contract overnight and have it reviewed by an attorney, someone with utility knowledge, a trusted friend, or financial adviser who is familiar with contract language.
If the salespeople won’t let you do that, the refusal could tell you something.
Anna Lee Brendza is The Times-Reporter’s consumer columnist. Contact her by writing Hot Line, The Times-Reporter, Box 667, New Philadelphia 44663 or emailing email@example.com.