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What You Should Know About Energy Contracts

Your rights and obligations in several jurisdictions.

Ontario

Important Note:  Please, be aware of whether or not you are already in a contract. If you are, your utility bill will show the company name. If you sign a second contract, you will be charged a termination fee by one of the companies. The company you originally had a contract with can either.
- choose to contest it, in which case you will be charged a termination fee by the newer company;
- choose not to contest it, then charge you a termination fee based on what is in their contract.

As of January 2011 there are new energy consumer protection rules in Ontario.

If a door to door agent comes to your door, they must:

  • have photo ID badge and present you with a business card;
  • provide you with an OEB-approved Disclosure Statement and Price Comparison;
  • not put you under any obligation to show a copy of your bill;
  • contact you after a 10 day cooling off period to re-affirm your intent to sign the contract;
  • if you enter into a contract, give you a copy within 40 days;

Contract Reaffirmation

If you sign a contract for natural gas or electricity, and it was signed with a door-to-door agent or in response to telemarketing, it must be reaffirmed. The contract does not need to be reaffirmed if the contract was signed over the internet, or in response to direct mail, or was initiated by you. The rules that apply to reaffirmation are as follows:

  1. Between the 10th and 46th day after you acknowledge receipt of the contract, the marketer is required to contact you (usually done by phone) to reaffirm that you want the contract.
  2. If you do not wish to reaffirm the contract, you are not required to pay cancellation fees.
  3. If you want to cancel an electricity contract after affirmation, you have up to 30 days after receiving your first bill with the new rate. This option is not available for gas contracts.
  4. If you reaffirm a gas contract and then decide at a later date to cancel it, you will likely be required to pay a cancellation fee.

Renewal and Extension of Contracts

These rules apply to contracts signed before OR after Jan 1, 2011.

A renewal package must be sent to you between 120 and 60 days before your contract ends.

The package must include the renewed contract, a renewal form, two copies of the OEB approved Disclosure Statements and two copies of the Price Comparison.

Electricity contracts cannot be automatically renewed or extended so you do not need to respond to a renewal package if you choose not to.

If you do not respond to a renewal offer for a GAS contract, it can be automaticallly renewed under certain conditions.
- the contract has not been previously automatically renewed
- the new contract price is the same or less than the previous price
- you may, at any time, cancel a gas contract that was automatically renewed

Alberta

Internet Contracts

Internet contracts are seldom cancellable since you initiated the transaction. Before you purchase an Internet contract, you must be able to view and obtain a copy of the contract. You must be able to correct errors immediately before you enter into the contract; you must be given the opportunity to accept or decline the contract; and you must be able to retain and print the completed contract.

Telephone Contracts

Energy marketers may sell or renew an energy contract over the telephone. The marketer is required to tell you the price you will pay for energy and to inform you of the contract terms and conditions. To agree to the terms and conditions and energy price, you will be asked to give your voice consent to the telephone contract, which will be recorded. The marketer must send a written copy to you. You can cancel a telephone marketing contract without cost or penalty up to 60 days after the first billing statement.

Door to Door Sales

Energy marketer sales staff must:

  • Tell you who they are
  • Tell you that they are selling energy contracts
  • Show you their identification card if you ask to see it
  • Make timely, accurate and truthful comparisons
  • Use reliable data to support claims
  • Allow you to cancel your marketing contract if you move out of Alberta or to a location where electricity is not deregulated.

Contract Requirements

  • Information about any provisions that will allow for automatic renewal of the marketing contract
  • A statement about your cancellation rights
  • A disclosure statement that acknowledges that you have read and understood the contract information

Cancellation Information

  • You can cancel an energy contract without cost or penalty within 10 days from when a marketer gets a signed copy.
  • If a marketing contract currently exists for the same property, you can cancel the new contract without cost or penalty.
  • You can cancel a telephone marketing contract without cost or penalty up to 60 days after the first billing statement.

Automatic Renewal of an Energy Contract

  • The marketer is required to send a renewal notice to you at least 30 days but not more than six months before the date the original contract will expire.
  • If you agree to a renewal, you have 10 days to cancel the marketing contract.
  • If you do not respond to the renewal offer, the marketer will automatically renew the contract for one year at the price stated in the renewal notice.
  • You have 30 days after receiving this first bill to cancel the renewed marketing contract without cost or penalty.

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