Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Door to Door Energy Sales

Pardon me while I vent.

We had a visit from a door to door energy salesman last night. I don't know how successful he could be, his pitch was so sleazy I felt I needed a shower after he left. I don't know what company he represented, even though I asked him three times. Each time he just rattled of the company name, too quickly for me to catch, while flourishing his hand under the logo on his shirt. I later went to the web sites of each company licensed in Ontario to retail energy and could not find a similar logo, it was a very small embroidery though.

Of course it was quickly apparent that he was there to get us to sign a five year contract for fixed price energy delivery. We can't buy a five year gym membership in Ontario any more because the gyms couldn't seem to stay in business for more than one or two, but we can be tied into a five year contract for our domestic energy needs. Does that seem right to you? The first such company to approach me is no longer licensed in Ontario (may no longer be in business), but I digress.

As the pitch goes, he had just stopped by to confirm that we were getting our price savings on our energy bill and he needed to see our statement. The conclusion that we are meant to draw is that this fine fellow from Mumble Energy is on our step appointed by our energy provider to make sure our account is in order so that we get the best price. Well, who doesn't want that. But if he is working with our energy provider why does he need to see our bill? So I ask him that question, a couple of times, in different ways. He never confirms or denies that he is associated with our energy provider, there is much flipping about of a binder to quickly point at information that has arrived in our gas and hydro bills, and talk about deregulation and rising energy prices. Finally he offers that privacy laws prevent his company from having the details of our bill. This is the closest thing to the truth I ever get out of this man. Of course privacy, and contract laws would keep his company's nose our of our business with our current provider because, not being a party to that business, there is absolutely no reason, legal or moral for them to have any of that information. That is why he must cajole, brow beat or swindle it out of me at the door.

I tried to get him to just tell me plainly why he was there. "Explain it to me, you're not being clear." His only reply to this was, "I don't know how I can be more clear, what don't you understand?" Finally he shows me on a sample bill what he is looking for. "Fine" I say, "I'll check it later" and indicated that as far as I'm concerned we are finished. He stares expectantly at me. "You can go now" I say.

"Oh no, you'll want to check it now" he replies.

"Why do I want to check it now?"

"Because if you aren't registered you will want to fill out and sign a form to get registered."

"I don't think I will."

"Oh you will want to."

"I'm not going to be filling out any forms tonight."

"Who said anything about forms?"

"You did, just now."

"No, I didn't say anything about forms."

This was really too much. I told him to "get off my property now," which he did.


For the record, here is how he could have been more clear:

"Good evening, I'm Some Guy from Mumble Energy Retail, here is my business card. As you may be aware the energy market in Ontario has been deregulated allowing companies such as Mumble Energy to sell directly to end users. Can I have a few moments of your time to tell you about our pricing structure for gas and electricity and explain the terms of the contract we will want you to sign to take advantage of these prices? If you do decide to enter into a contract with us, I will need to see your last gas and electric statements to get your service information. At that time I can show you how to find out if you are already in a contractual agreement with another provider who may charge you a penalty for breaking the contract early."

I still would have said no, but I wouldn't have felt the need to banish him from my property and we could have parted on amicable grounds.

Reporting from The Star - Utility deals left lots to be desired.

Ellen Roseman - Deception at the door.

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