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direct energy- sucks big time
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 Posted: Wed Jan 14th, 2009 08:13 pm
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checkm8

 

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I have been a customer of direct energy for almost 2 years now( signed a five year contract), what a rip off, I dont know how the alberta government can allow outfits like Direct energy(de) to operate without any business ethics and morals, they dont come and take reading, its always guess work, for a 1150 sq feet home I pay more than 350$ a month in winter(gas, electricity and heating), whereas my friends and relatives who have homes above 1600 sq ft pay close to 250$ a month, I have been trying to get out of the contract for a year and they ask me a fine of $500+.

             I am very sure that the sales rep when he called on me at my home never mentioned a thing about the fines If I break the contract,  there have been so many complaints about direct energy, still albertan govt seems to be sleeping peacefully allowing these shady outfits to rip off consumers of their hard earned money, any one can do a google search on "direct energy complaints", you will be astonished as to what kind of crap is going on, this inspite the fact that the US govt had cautioned and adviced about the business malpractises of de, hard to believe we   live in a developed, democratic  and free coutry like Canada and businesses like these flourish, theres no one to regulate them, I have learned my lesson, never ever am I going to sign a contract with anyone, it would be great if some one can advice me  about how to get out of these contract.

Meanwhile I will have the sign "NO SOLICITING, ESPECIALLY DOGS FROM DE" outside my fornt door

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 Posted: Wed Jan 14th, 2009 08:20 pm
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checkm8

 

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Part Three: So many complaints, no quick fixes
Delays and limited resources have frustrated regulators. But Direct Energy says it reacts to complaints "swiftly and appropriately"
Calgary Herald - Sunday, May 16, 2004
by Grant Robertson


Detective Jack Gill's patience was wearing thin. His phone at the St. Catharines, Ont., police department was ringing daily with new complaints about Direct Energy, which was selling natural gas and electricity contracts in the area.

As a veteran of the city's fraud squad, Gill was no stranger to dealing with consumer complaints.

There's a rule in his business: When the numbers get big enough and the complaints start sounding the same, "you know you've got a problem."

By the spring of 2002, Gill and his colleagues across Ontario knew they had a problem with Direct Energy. Complaints about the company were flooding police stations throughout the province.

Angry callers told of agents giving confusing or misleading sales pitches and forging signatures on household utility contracts. The concerns easily outnumbered complaints against any other company in the market.

But Gill's police squad, lacking manpower and time, didn't have the resources to go chasing down each allegation. Cases took days, if not months, to settle and other work was piling up.

"At any given time, I'll have 35 files on my desk. Direct Energy was just one of them," said Gill.

Other police forces were seeing the same problems.

Faced with this deluge, fraud investigators from around the province called an emergency meeting with the Ontario Energy Board in the spring of 2002 to figure out a way to deal with the mounting concerns.

They decided to focus on the most glaring allegations: Direct Energy agents were forging consumers' signatures on utility contracts in order to claim new accounts.

Investigators gathered a stack of suspect Direct Energy contracts and shipped them off to Ontario's Centre for Forensic Science. The disputed signatures were going under the microscope.

It was an unusual, if not risky, move for the board. Calling on the province's crime laboratory wasn't something to be done lightly. The process was costly and time consuming.

"We went to them almost as a favour," said Paul Gasparotto, an investigator with the board's licensing division. "They have murders to investigate, so we knew we weren't the priority."

When the reports came back, though, most of the 50 questionable contracts sent to the lab showed signs of forgery. Of those, 21 were irrefutable fakes, displaying "differences in handwriting characteristics such as line quality, proportions, connections and letter design," the examiners said.

That determination was all the board would need to take action. The province issued a $157,500 penalty to Direct Energy.

The board acknowledged the company provided copies of its forged contracts to investigators and promised to retrain its sales agents. Direct Energy points to such recognition as evidence of its willingness to co-operate with regulators.

"We've done an awful lot of work and I think the board has recognized that," Paul Massara, vice-president of Direct Energy's parent company, Centrica, said last year.

Still, the Ontario process was onerous, taking months to complete. Sorting through similar problems in other markets has proved even more difficult for regulators.

When authorities in Michigan and Georgia launched investigations into similar complaints about Direct Energy's U.S. affiliate, Energy America, they were stunned by the company's response. Not only was Energy America breaking the rules, the company and its executives repeatedly aggravated state authorities by not co-operating. In the most disturbing examples of Energy America's disregard, the company was caught withholding evidence from regulators and ignoring orders to testify at state hearings.

Inside an Atlanta hearing room last year, sheltered from the heat of an early Georgia summer, investigators began delving into stacks of complaints about Energy America. The room's air conditioning did little to cool the frustrations of Georgia officials, who were in no mood to let Energy America off easy.

The state, which deregulated its natural gas market in the late-1990s, never thought it would have to discipline a gas company. Georgia believed it had the toughest laws in place to protect utility consumers.

"Joan of Arc might think she had it good compared to the first company found guilty," Stan Wise of the Georgia Public Service Commission proudly declared in 1998.

But the deregulated market was barely two years old when complaints began to mount about Energy America, which was selling gas contracts door-to-door.

"Agents were literally putting their legs in the doorway to keep people from closing the door," said Cynthia Johnson, Georgia's director of consumer affairs.

In 2000, state regulators forced the company to pay $136,000 in penalties and demanded its agents be retrained.

The complaints stopped for a while, but returned less than two years after.

By 2002, Georgia was probing hundreds of allegations that Energy America was using telemarketers to enrol consumers without their permission.

Despite the threat of stiff fines for reoffending, Georgia officials say Direct Energy's U.S. affiliate repeatedly stalled their investigation, failing to co-operate with the state's demands.

When asked by the commission for recordings of the telemarketing calls that led to the complaints, the company refused for months to produce the tapes.

After the hearings began, two company managers who were ordered to testify in Atlanta failed to show up, though they were served with subpoenas in Toronto several weeks before.

The commission knew it had a strong case because the violations discovered on the recordings were so glaring.

In one of the more bizarre recordings, Georgia consumer Frank Thomas told the telemarketer "No, thank you," and hung up the phone after listening to Energy America's sales pitch. But the agent continued talking after the line was disconnected, thanking Thomas for his time and signing him up for a natural gas contract.

What angered Georgia's public service commission most was the company's attitude towards the regulatory process.

"Getting them to co-operate was like banging your head against a wall," said Mike Nantz, assistant to the director of enforcement at the commission.

"There was a complete inability on the company's part to take responsibility for what was happening."

This time, the state forced the company to pay more than $680,000 in penalties, although regulators wanted more than just fines. Direct Energy's U.S. division was also ordered not to solicit new customers in Georgia for a year.

Like police in Ontario, Georgia regulators struggled with limited resources to investigate the company's actions.

The commission put more than a dozen people -- nearly its entire investigative staff -- on the case. It was an unusual effort, but a necessary one, officials said.

"The company had already been fined once," said Nantz. "The commission wanted to send a message."

Just as regulators have been pushed to great lengths to corral Direct Energy and its U.S. affiliate, consumers haven't fared much better in trying to resolve disputes.

By the spring of 2002, Michigan homeowner Jack Carmichael grew tired of waiting for the state to wade through allegations of forged contracts and deceptive sales pitches. Rather than fill out complaint forms down at the attorney general's office, Carmichael took Energy America to court on his own. He believed Direct Energy's U.S. affiliate didn't seem concerned when he told them his signature was forged on a gas contract.

On the day of his hearing, though, the judge delivered some unusual news. District Court Magistrate James Pahl said he couldn't hear the case. He, too, had been visited by an agent representing the company. And because Pahl questioned the sales pitch delivered on his own doorstep, the judge considered himself "a potential witness" in the case.

The publicity over Carmichael's story prompted more consumers to come forward with similar allegations.

However, before Carmichael's hearing could be rescheduled, the company offered to settle -- quietly.

He took the deal and was paid an undisclosed sum of money on the condition he no longer discussed his case publicly. When contacted for this article, Carmichael declined comment.

It would be up to the Michigan attorney general's office to have the last word a few months later.

In May 2002, the state forced Energy America to pay $340,000 in penalties to cover the cost of investigating the thousands of complaints registered against the company.

Michigan officials were particularly upset with the company's response to the mounting concerns.

"The bottom line was, they weren't responding," said Kathy Fitzgerald, Michigan's assistant attorney general. "They were doing nothing -- and the complaints kept piling up."

Back in Ontario, Det. Jack Gill's phone is quieter these days, leaving him time to work on other cases.

Consumer concerns about Direct Energy now go straight to the Ontario Energy Board.

Yet, there are still problems. In September, just three months after Ontario fined Direct Energy, new allegations emerged.

The complaints had a familiar ring to authorities. Five households in Ottawa told the board of a Direct Energy agent who was aggressive on their doorstep, trying to coerce consumers into signing a utility contract on the spot.

Such evidence contradicts numerous statements made by Direct Energy over the past year that the company has clamped down on its problems.

"Where issues have arisen in the past in other jurisdictions, the company has reacted swiftly and appropriately," Gary Newcombe, regional director of regulatory affairs for Direct Energy, told a conference in Calgary in October. "We've put stringent controls in place and have modified business practices and compliance measures as required."

Despite the spate of new consumer complaints, it's unlikely Direct Energy will soon face another in-depth probe like the one it saw in Ontario in 2003. Limited resources mean extensive investigations -- such as using forensic experts to prove a case -- aren't feasible whenever a company is suspected of breaking the rules.

"You can't do that every time you get complaints," said Gill, explaining what frustrates him about the job.

"There's just no way."

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 Posted: Wed Jan 14th, 2009 08:24 pm
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checkm8

 

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from another forum

Negative option contract renewal!

Complaint Rating:
In 2001 I signed a five year natural gas contract with Direct Energy. The contract was due to expire in August 2006. Around May of 2006 I received in the mail a large envelope with a contract renewal form. Direct Energy was offering me another five year contract for 44 cents a cubic meter. The price of gas through Enbridge at the time was around 34 cents, so I decided to put the contract aside for a while and watch what gas prices were doing. (Prices are approximate. I am operating from memory.)

Well, prices went down. One article I read said there was a temporary oversupply, and further price reductions were a possibility. (At the time of this post, February 2007, the price through Enbridge is 31.5 cents.) I decided not to renew.

Around November of 2006 I happened to notice my gas bill was unusually high. When I looked at it closely, I was surprised to see that not only was I still paying to Direct Energy, but the rate was a staggering 49.9 cents a cubic meter. I had not thrown out any of the contract renewal papers, so I went through them carefully. Surprise! If you want to discontinue your contract you have to sign a form and mail it to them. I signed and dated the form and sent it to them via registered mail.

When my January bill came I was surprised once again. I was still paying to Direct Energy. After more checking, I discovered I was too late. I could only withdraw from the contract within 35 days of my first bill, which would have made the deadline some time in October. I am stuck paying this rip off rate until August 2007.

I have two complaints with this company. First, the entire practice of negative option contract renewals is a scam. A contract should be something you sign to get into, not something you have to sign to get out of. Second, their rate of 49.9 cents, when the going price is 31.5 cents, is an outrageous rip off.

No doubt, Direct Energy would say this is my fault for not reading the contract renewal in its entirety when I first received it. Perhaps. But I would prefer to do business with a company that isn't hovering like a vulture waiting for me to make a mistake so they can pick the flesh from my bones.

My advice to anyone dealing with this company - Don't expect them to be honorable or honest. Go over everything you get from them with a fine tooth comb, preferably with a lawyer present.

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 Posted: Wed Jan 14th, 2009 08:30 pm
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checkm8

 

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Direct Energy Rip Off!!Product/Service: Electricity provider
6/22/2008 San Leon TX

I was using the balanced billing with Direct Energy. I noticed our bills were esculating rapidly toward the end of 2006 then they started dropping off. I thought they had discovered their error and was actually billing for the correct usage. This was after the November 2006 billing. Then in April/May 2007 I got a balanced bill for $0. I knew then something was wrong and called. They checked and said my meter had STOPPED WORKING in November!! I checked on the PUC website today and discovered they, by law are supposed to read my meter at LEAST every 3 months. This meter "stoppage" wasn't discovered by THEM, I discovered it SIX MONTHS LATER!!! They were not reading my meter or they would have discovered it!! Then! THEN!! They SAID they sent a man out to check the meter. They SAID we had TAMPERED with the meter and that was what caused it to stop working, making it legal for them to charge us for more than 3 months bills. They provided no evidence whatsoever of the tampering. We DID NOT TAMPER with the meter either. We've lived in this house for over 20 yrs and it would be STUPID to do something like that as we know we would have been caught doing something like that, plus, being from the old school, we are HONEST. I asked them WHY the meter man didn't SHOW us the evidence if he truly had found something and was told it was against their policy!! That would be like taking your car for an oil change only and then them billing you for major repairs like a transmission replacement and them telling you that you would have to just trust them that the repairs were made, you'd have to pay, even if you didn't authorize them to replace the transmission!! THEN DIRECT ENERGY SAID they got the actual usage from Tx New Mexico elect. and billed us for almost $4,000!!!!!!!! I had been paying on the balanced billing, and the period of time that was unmetered was over the WINTER time. There was NO WAY we could have used that much electricity!!!! My husband is 73 yrs old, has Alzhemiers disease and is on oxygen for Emphysema. He HAS to have A/C and electricity. I had no choice but to try and arrange payments with them as we couldn't and can't change providers until past bills are current. We are on a fixed income and with the cost of EVERYTHING going up...we can't afford to even eat!! Just as soon as I can get that paid off I am going to switch electric providers. Other people in our area who are NOT with Direct Energy have much lower bills. Those WITH Direct Energy, they have bills like mine. EXTREMELY HIGH! Our neighbor, with D.E., had the same thing happen to them...so-called meter tampering and was billed an additional $3,000!!!! They moved as they were renters. They later told me their bills went from $600 plus a month to $180!!!!!!! What's wrong with this picture?????? My on-line billing site past bills information was also changed from what WAS on there to what is on there now, making it harder to figure out what happened and why my bill/meter reading was so screwed up! IF my meter really wasn't working, D.E. SHOULD have caught the problem no more than 3 months after it stopped working IF they had ever been actually reading my meter!! My advice? DON'T use DIRECT ENERGY unless you like being ripped off!!!

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 Posted: Wed Jan 14th, 2009 08:31 pm
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checkm8

 

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Do not use Direct Energy
Product/Service: Electricity Provider
6/10/2007 Dallas TX

Direct Energy was my service provider for 2 years. Over the course of the 2 years I steadily saw my bills increase from $200 per month to a hefty $600 per month. At first, I thought the increases were due to increasing gas and oil prices.

When I started receiving bills near $400 a month, I called and asked to have my meter checked. It was supposedly checked and they maintained it was functioning properly.

Suddenly, after my meter was checked the bills jumped back down to around $250. Then slowly they began to rise again. The changes in my bills did not correlate with weather changes.

This past February we had very nice springlike weather here in Texas. I did not turn on my heat or AC for 6 weeks. I used my lights and other electrical devices very sparingly, making an effort to use a minimal amount of electricity. It was almost as if I was playing a game to see how little electricity I could use. I even used candles after the sun went down to see how low I could get my usage.

Imagine the extreme horror I felt when I received the bill for February. It was $587!!!

I have switched providers now. Direct Energy persisted in stating that I must have a problem in my home that is causing the high bills.

I am delighted to report that I have now received two bills from my new provider. The first bill was $180. The second was $197. Please note... the $197 was me returning to the comforts I should be able to enjoy in my own home, such as lighting, having my TV on in the background and , yes, temperature control. Now my bills are comparable with my neighbors and family living in similar sized homes.

Direct Energy almost put me into financial ruin. It makes me sick to think of all of the money they scammed me out of in two short years!

Bottom line... DO NOT USE DIRECT ENERGY, unless you want to throw your money away!




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 Posted: Wed Jan 14th, 2009 08:32 pm
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checkm8

 

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Need to file a major complaint with this companyProduct/Service: utility service electric provider
5/13/2007 houston TX

Direct energy had one their service men with come out and replaced our old mete, the service man had purposely misread the meter due to he did not want to do his job and change the meter out, we were later billed the following month abill for over 2,000 dollars usage in killowatts keep in mind we live in a small 1500 sq foot home. We are never home during the day and there is no possible way we could use this due to we keep daily logs of our kilwatts usage. We use actual from 45-55 kwatts a day at the most duing a 30 day billing period.After 50+phone calls made with complaints they did send a service man out to read the meter he stated they had made a mistake still the following month they tried to bill us an additonal 700.00 bill usage to justify their mistake they are obviousley not even reading out meter and they quoted we know there is no way you could of used this but we are not going to help solve the problem or fix it you have to make installment payments.We have changed to a new provider of course out newprovide is not in effect until a week from now.Please intevestigate this, Direct energy are trying to cheat customers and it is way to obvious other neighbors have had the same problems and friends as well.We would like to file a formal compalint in reference to this please send the proper means to do so.Regarding bill with direct energy account#3212687 kenneth cole houston tx. 77044

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 Posted: Wed Jan 14th, 2009 08:38 pm
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checkm8

 

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are we the consumers blind and short sighted, and what the hell is the government doing, so anyone unhappy with direct energy, I would encourage them to file thier complaints to AUC by clicking on the following link:

http://www.auc.ab.ca/about-the-auc/auc-information/Documents/AUC_Information/AUCinfo_5.pdf

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 Posted: Thu Apr 9th, 2009 12:04 am
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newbie720

 

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I completely agree.  I was on a three year contract with direct energy and also found myself paying more than others in the same size home.

Once the contract was over, I decided to go with another company.  In the time between that new company taking over and the old contract ending, I was apparently renewed with another subsidiary of direct energy and charged another connection fee for this service.

When called to dispute this new connection fee, I was told that the head office in Ontario charged this for all new customers and that they would not be willing to refund this fee.  What great customer service this company delivers.

After reading the Calgary Herald article I can see that this type of deception will continue as long as the company is in business.

I am now with Enmax of Calgary and will not be going back to Direct Energy ever again.

Do not use Direct Energy.  They are scammers.  Consumer Beware.

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 Posted: Thu Sep 17th, 2009 05:45 pm
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kmiller09

 

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I made the horrible mistake of signing up for their fixed rate service back in October '08. They gave me 10 days to think about it. I got my bill in January and it was triple what my previous bill was. We decided after 2 months of horrifyiing bills to cancel this service, and decided to just eat the $400 cancellation fee. The first time we tried to set up a payment plan (since we couldn't afford to pay them $400 in one shot) they hung up on us. Finally they let us pay $100 until it was paid off. On Saturday I didn't think I could mail in a check on time so I went to TD to pay it, using the blue statement with accound number printed on that statement. TOday I get a refunded cheque say I'd overpaid one account. I call DE and they said I'd paid the wrong company. I asked If I was getting a late charge for this and they said yes. To be clear I USED THE SAME ACCOUNT ON THE BLUE STATEMENT THEY SENT TO US!!!!! But they are claiming I didn't pay the right company. Is this legal?

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 Posted: Wed Sep 1st, 2010 03:14 pm
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yyc22

 

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I fought this contract for a year and finally I won. I am not sure what type of contract you have but I can tell you that if they do not have a terms and conditions that clearly states the out clause that it is illegal. My contract had 3 pages no where on my contract was there a terms and conditions and a Termination Clause. We were moving and we wanted to go with another provider as our "site" was changing. I ws told I could not do this and if I did not continue to use Direct Energy that I would have to pay out the contract. They sent me a final invoice for $600. I argued back and forth with Direct Energy to no avail. It then went to the credit burreau I was thankful because I thought finally I can deal with someone other then Direct Energy as they would not listen to my argument that their 5yr term was illegal.  Well that was almost worse the manager at Equifax would hear nothing of it and started to call and harrass us daily. I finally had enough and felt this was just wrong and bullying people was unethical. It made me wonder how many people/seniors etc they have tried to fool with their BS. I  contacted the gov't of ALberta and was directed to the Consumer department for energy. I provided all of my info and 3 wks later received a letter from Direct Energy apologizing and crediting our account.  Please note this was possible because my contact was 3 pages NO terms and conditions and not Termination clause therefore the contract was illegal. I share this because they are screwing people. CHECK YOUR CONTRACT! 

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