Mandy is from Sugar Land Texas and ordered electric service with Direct Energy based on an advertised rate she saw that said 15 cents per kWh.
She said they told her that her electric bill would be 15 cents per kWh but when she got her first bill it was 18 cents per kilowatt hour.
When she enquired about this apparent bait and switch she was told it is now 18 cents per kWh because it is a fluctuating rate. Her question was, “How could it fluctuate after 2 weeks?!?!?”
She was unhappy with what she saw as dishonesty and tried to cancel but they told her there would be a cancellation fee they would charge and refused to waive.
She was disgusted that they would charge her more than what they described the rate to be but wouldn’t waive a (thousands of dollars) cancellation fee in the face of what she perceived to be their wrong doing.
As far as Mandy could see they had straight up lied to her about what the electric rate would be. Only two weeks and the fluctuating rate had changed price already!
My concern is whether Texas electric providers sometimes are advertising prices that are only good practically speaking for the time the rate is seen in an advertisement.
What exactly happens? Does the rate stay the advertised price a day or two and then they change the price at their discretion?
The customer service agent justified the hardline attitude that a cancellation penalty is required because, “this is how the process works”.
Mandy had signed up for a 4 year contract so the cancellation penalty was in the thousands of dollars.
She ends her complaint by warning consumers not to bother with “scammy” companies.
This is Where You Enlist the Help of The Public Utility Commission of Texas
The main thing I would encourage people to do in regards to similar situations as what happened to Mandy is to reach out to the PUCT with your complaint.
Once you have tried explaining yourself to your electric company the PUCT can handle it from there.
The reality is the PUCT will work directly with you to reach out to Direct Energy and hold them accountable to handle this customer complaint.
In many cases the retail electric provider has an in house attorney that works directly with each customer complaint to reduce these complaints and offer meaningful compromises most customers can happily live with.
I have seen where electric companies have even refunded money back to the customer that really didn’t belong to the customer but it helped to resolve that complaint and improve the electric companies overall reputation with the PUCT and the statistics the PUCT puts out on each provider.
Donny has been writing about the deregulated energy markets since early 2007. His knowledge has helped consumers lower their electricity cost.