Energy salesman charged with lying to consumer

CALGARY, ALBERTA - The Alberta government has charged a door-to-door energy salesman for allegedly using misleading practices to get a Calgary customer to sign a utility contract.

Dwight Davis, a Calgary-based marketer for Alberta Energy Savings, has been charged with two counts of making false statements to consumers, which is a violation of the Energy Marketing Regulation under the Fair Trading Act.

Mike Berezowsky, a spokesman for Service Alberta, said that the charges carry a fine of up to $100,000 and could include up to two years in jail.

Alberta Energy Savings, a company that markets electricity and natural gas across the province, does not face any charges, according to a government news release.

The province began an investigation after a complaint from a Calgary business owner who signed an energy contract in July but was concerned about the salesman's actions.

According to the business owner, the salesman denied he worked for an energy retailer when asked, and instead claimed he was a supplier to Enmax and was checking consumers' bills to ensure they had the "proper" energy discounts.

The man then got the business owner to sign a form for discounts, but the customer quickly realized it was a contract and took it back.

Under the Energy Marketing Regulation:

• Salespeople must identify themselves properly and show identification cards when requested.

• Marketers are not allowed to take advantage of a consumer's lack of knowledge, lie or exert undue pressure on consumers, or make claims about price savings or benefits that do not exist.

• All advertising materials must reflect actual conditions.

• All data used to support a claim must be reliable.

"The government has clear rules on what energy salespeople can and can't do," said Service Alberta Minister Heather Klimchuk. "We take complaints seriously and will take action when those rules are not followed."

Davis is scheduled to appear in a Calgary court on November 9.

Meanwhile, the province is reviewing changes made by another retailer, Direct Energy, to its training program for salespeople and its complaint process for consumers.

In May, the province ordered Direct Energy to report back by September 30 to show its sales staff have proper training according to provincial guidelines, and to demonstrate improvements to its complaint process.

Customers had complained to the province that some sales agents were selling long-term contracts without making it clear they were for unregulated rates.


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