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Rip-off response

Earlier this week, we issued tips to protect yourself from bad deals in the natural gas market.  More than 1,800 of you responded to our accompanying survey, and about 56 percent of you said you had encountered a pitch from an alternative gas supplier. Here were some of your experiences:

  • “The person who came to the door wanted to see a copy of our gas bill to check the account number. We told him NO and that we were not interested in his deals.  He was shocked we did not want to SAVE money!”
  • “Got a letter in the mail and tore it up. I’m not happy with Nicor’s rates but I don’t want to gamble on some other company.”
  • “I said I wanted to check other companies before I made a choice. They said I had to choose now and I said goodbye.”
  • “I previously signed up with an alternative gas supplier and had a very bad experience. I signed a five-year contract and over the life of the contract probably overpaid nearly $3,000 more in bills than had I kept Nicor gas.”

Past CUB reviews of the gas market have shown that about 9 out of 10 offers were money-losers. Be wary of suppliers who come to your door and want you to sign up on the spot. And make sure that you don’t give out personal financial information—including your gas bill or account number—to anyone who calls or knocks on your door and claims to be from the “gas company.” That person could be trying to “slam” you (switch you to another gas supplier without your permission).

There have been so many stories about people’s confusion regarding alternative gas suppliers that we’ve issued a special warning about Nicor Advanced Energy.

Hmm, where have we heard that name before? Sounds just like Nicor Gas, the regulated utility, doesn’t it. Well, looks can be deceiving.

Nicor Advanced Energy is an unregulated supplier, completely different than the regulated utility, Nicor Gas. We’ve argued for years that this is a recipe for confusion in the gas market, but we’ve been unable to get rules established to prohibit unregulated companies from using a name and logo that’s so similar to the utility.

The time is ripe for rip-offs, so be careful.  For more tips, click here.