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Consumer collects $598.13 electric refund with CUB’s help

By Samantha Vercellino

20150407_aimeekudosDoreen, of Country Club Hills, couldn’t figure out why her power bills were becoming unusually expensive. Not wanting to be left in the dark, she headed to a CUB speaking engagement in Richton Park for answers.

At the event, she sat down with Community Service Liaison Aimee Gendusa-English who uncovered the truth.

Doreen was enrolled with Direct Energy—not the regulated utility—and paying 12.49 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for electricity. (The price was 64 percent more than ComEd’s 7.572 cents per kWh rate.)

“When I explained that she was with Direct Energy and paying an expensive rate, she did not understand how that could be and insisted she never authorized such a thing,” Aimee said.

But sure enough, Doreen had signed up with the supplier more than four years ago.

In fact, the company followed all the necessary protocols when enrolling her, and she even read and responded to her first renewal notice.

After a year, however, Direct Energy automatically transferred Doreen onto variable pricing, which changes from month-to-month. CUB argued that the company failed to properly notify her about the switch.

“This is a great example of a teaser rate,” Aimee said. “They offer a decent discount for a certain amount of time but ultimately hope the consumer will fail to perceive that her rate has gone up.”

After CUB advocated for Doreen, the company issued her a reimbursement check in the amount of $598.13.

“Consumers should always check with CUB if they feel they are getting a runaround from a utility or an alternative supplier,” Aimee said. “We will make sure they know what their rights are, so they can stand up for themselves.”

If you have a complaint about your utility or cable service, call CUB’s Consumer Hotline, at 1-800-669-5556, or visit CUB Services Event Calendar to check out informative events near you.