New Rules for Energy Retailers in 2017 – Know Your Rights

<this communication excerpt courtesy of the Ontario Energy Board>

You’ve just sat down at the dinner table after a long day at work or maybe you’re lugging the vacuum out of the closet to finish your housework. That’s when the doorbell rings and you open the door only to find yourself in the middle of a sales pitch.

The salesperson has all kinds of questions about your energy habits and how much you pay for energy each month.  They might even ask you to show them your latest electricity or natural gas bill.

For some people, that can be an unnerving experience.

But Ontarians now have stronger protections when it comes to dealing with energy retailers that sell electricity and natural gas under contract, based on recommendations that the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) made to the government in 2015.

On January 1, 2017, tough new rules came into force under the revised Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2010 (ECPA) that make it illegal for door-to-door energy retailers to sign you up for an energy contract while they are at your home. As a result, residential consumers won’t have to feel pressured to make a decision on the spot.  They will have more time to think about whether an energy contract is right for them and make an informed decision.

Several other important new measures now also apply, including limits on when energy retailers can come to your home to market or advertise their business, and reduced cancellation fees for most residential consumers.

The ECPA has been in effect since 2011, helping to protect consumers from hidden costs, excessive cancellation fees and other unfair practices, while ensuring they have information they need to make the right decisions about energy contracts.

But after a lengthy review and recommendations from the OEB, the government revamped the ECPA to make it stronger, and the OEB has also developed new consumer protection rules of its own. The new protection measures ban door-to-door energy retailers from signing you up for an energy contract while they are at your home. Other new rules include:

  • Place limits on when energy retailers can come to your home to market or advertise their business
  • Extend the time that consumers can cancel an energy contract without penalty to 30 days after they receive their second bill under the energy contract
  • Require all energy contracts – now even those entered into online – to be verified by the consumer 10-45 days after they’ve entered into the contract to confirm that they wish to continue with it
  • Eliminate auto-renewal of all energy contracts
  • Reduce cancellation fees for most residential consumers
  • Require energy retailers to include OEB-approved plain language terms and conditions in their energy contracts

The OEB encourages all consumers to visit its website at oeb.ca/knockknock and learn more about their rights and the rules that energy retailers have to follow, and to contact the OEB if they have any concerns.

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