Universal Gas & Electric, a Canadian company, sends out door-to-door salesmen who lie to homeowners about the imaginary “savings” they’ll enjoy if they switch gas suppliers, when in reality Universal is currently about 50% higher than the default supplier. One former Universal employee says, “I’d have people ask, ‘What am I paying now?’ and they’d look at the bill and it’s right there in front of them and they don’t know where to look and I would avoid telling them that.”
Universal officials in Toronto told Target 8 Investigators that over the life of the five-year plan they believe customers will actually save money. They say you shouldn’t judge the plan six months into a five-year contract, even though prices are currently dropping.
Former salesman Al Brogg, who calls the way Universal sells gas “misleading, dishonest, unethical,” also thinks that might still happen, and that it might work eventually in customers favor.
But he said, “Today it’s not going to save people money. It’s actually going to cost them almost 50 percent more.”
Universal officials take no responsibility for any lies told by sales people. They say lying violates their code of conduct, however, “it’s possible…a couple of sales people went off and did their own thing to increase sales.”
Frustrated homeowners say the salesmen told them “they can cancel their contract at any time but failed to mention it costs $250 to switch back”—and if they go ahead and cancel, Universal claims it will take a couple of billing cycles to complete the transfer. Quick, someone buy Universal a computerized billing system.
It should go without saying, but if you can’t compare apples to apples between two bills, don’t change to a new supplier. Sadly, most gas bills are hard to read. Here’s one attempt to clarify some of the numbers—you should look for a Gas Recovery Cost. You should also do a search for a similar “how to read my gas bill” page on your local gas supplier’s website.
(Thanks to Jack!)
“Traveling gas sales people: we ‘misled’ customers” [WOODTV]