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Consumer to CUB: You saved my butt!

I received this report from a CUB member about an encounter he had with an alternative supplier–a company we haven’t heard of in the market. The consumer thanks everyone at CUB for “saving my butt.”

Last Wednesday night (March 9th), shortly after dinner, my doorbell rang.  Very unusual for my doorbell to ring ‘unannounced’ without my making plans with friends….

Using the intercom, I asked who it was.

It was an electric supplier. “You recently had your electric meter switched to a smart meter and we want to look at your electric bill and make sure there aren’t any extra charges on it.”  (They mentioned two fees – I’m not sure what they were.)

The sales rep was persistent. I responded, “No thanks.”

To be honest, if I wasn’t a CUB member, I probably would have gone downstairs to meet them and see how they could reduce my electric bill.  But CUB has not only helped me save money on my utility bills – including getting a refund for a $400 overcharge from the gas company — CUB has taught me about the different scams that unscrupulous suppliers use to trick people and take their money. 

Thanks, CUB, for “covering” my wallet — and the area of my back pocket I keep it in….

Remember, getting a smart meter won’t add extra charges to your bill. In fact, the devices should help you save money. So the supplier’s pitch immediately raises questions. If you let somebody see your bill, the sales rep can get your account number and sign you up for an alternative supplier–even if you don’t want to sign up. It’s a scam called “slamming.” Also, beware of these pitfalls:

Exorbitant rates. Find out what the company is charging and how that compares with the utility rates.  ComEd is charging under 7 cents per kWh right now.

Low introductory rates that disappear: Introductory rates can shoot up after a short period. Ask if the rate is an intro rate, how long it lasts, and what the new rate will be.

Extra fees: Always ask if there is a monthly fee, and factor that into the per kilowatt-hour (kWh) price.

Punishing exit fees: Many suppliers charge exit fees if a customer leaves a plan before the contract is up. Under the law, customers are allowed to leave a contract without paying an exit fee within 10 days after the date of the first bill.

Read our fact sheets on electric competition for ComEd and Ameren customers.