That includes knowing what to expect when approached by sales agents at home as well as understanding the steps and obligations involved in signing and reaffirming an energy contract.
Some tips for consumers:
- Understand your current energy situation.
That means first knowing if your electricity or natural gas is supplied through your local utility or through a contract with a retailer or a marketer. If you do have a contract, you should know details like who your company is, what price you're paying, the duration of the contract and how much energy you use monthly.
- Know your rights when approached by sales agents at your home.
Agents are required to:
- Identify themselves
- Show ID with their name, the company they represent and their license number.
- Always leave consumers with their business card and, if asked, a copy of materials presented at the door.
Consumers should also know:
- If the agents don't identify themselves, consumers should ask to see ID.
- They are not required to sign anything for the agent to leave information.
- The OEB website (www.oeb.gov.on.ca) has a list of the licensed retailers they can find by clicking on the "The Energy Choice is Yours" icon.
- Utilities and government agencies do not offer energy contracts.
- Compare prices.
- Electricity utility prices are set by the OEB and can change every six months under the Regulated Price Plan. In the natural gas sector, the Board may adjust utility prices every three months.
- When buying from an electricity retailer or gas marketer, the price is stated in your contract and is usually fixed for a number of years. The OEB licenses these companies but does not regulate the prices they offer.
- You can access historic electricity and natural gas rates charged by utilities on "The Energy Choice is Yours" page of the OEB's website (www.oeb.gov.on.ca).
- Read any contract and before agreeing to it, make sure you understand it. Don't feel rushed - know key terms and conditions such as the price offered, exit conditions and renewal options. Also make sure to read the fine print.
- You have a 10-day "cooling-off" period to review your decision. After you receive a copy of your contract, you have 10 days to cancel it. This is your opportunity to read the contract in detail. Research any questions you may have.
- You may need to "reaffirm" the contract in order for it to remain in effect. In most cases, after the 10-day cooling-off period, the electricity retailer or natural gas marketer will contact you (in most cases, by phone - and they must keep a recording of that call) to confirm your decision to proceed with the contract. You can say yes or no.
Be aware of the time period you have to confirm or change your decision - this should be indicated in the contract.
IMPORTANT : Consumers are NOT required to reaffirm the decision to enter into a contract with a retailer or marketer where:
1. the contact with the retailer or marketer was initiated by the consumer.
2. the consumer responds to a direct mail solicitation.
3. it is an Internet agreement.
- Keep a paper trail.
Keep copies of all your correspondence with utilities, retailers or marketers.
- Be informed.
If you're considering an energy contract or simply reviewing their supply options, you can find out more by clicking on The Energy Choice is Yours icon on the Board's website at oeb.gov.on.ca.