Pa. PUC Approves Supplier Marketing Guidelines, Allows Door-to-Door Sales Email This
Story November 5, 2010
The Pennsylvania PUC said that it has approved interim guidelines for marketing and
sales practices for electric generation suppliers and natural gas suppliers (M-2010-2185981).
A written order was not issued yesterday.
However, based on a statement from Vice Chairman Tyrone Christy, the final order
will not prohibit door-to-door marketing, which prompted Christy to dissent from
Christy said that the interim guidelines were developed in an effort to, "curb the
abuses that everyone knows will occur," and said that the PUC should prohibit residential
door-to-door marketing due to such abuses.
In his dissent, Christy referenced the "deceptive" solicitation received by the Pennsylvania
Legal Aid Network, first reported by Matters (9/2), as well as charges of sexual
assault brought against a door-to-door energy marketing agent in Connecticut (10/28).
"I also am concerned that door-to-door sales will lead to instances where customers
are physically assaulted and/or subjected to property crimes by sales agents who
have not been properly screened," Christy said.
Christy attached to his dissent a memo he asked PPL Electric Utilities to prepare,
which provides a representative sample of calls received by PPL over the last several
months in response to door-to-door marketing by electric suppliers in PPL's service
Common complaints from customers listed in the memo include statements that supplier
agents are misrepresenting themselves as from PPL; are wearing the PPL logo; are
misleading customers into believing their supply will be terminated absent customer
action; and are misrepresenting that other competitive suppliers are going out of
business. Additionally, one complaint alleges that a sales agent exposed himself
during the sales call.
Christy's dissent, which included the summary of complaints received by PPL, can
be found here. Christy redacted the names of the suppliers listed in the complaints;
however, in many cases the supplier's identity can be determined based on the length
of the redaction and visible parts of letters not covered by the redaction.
Given such abuse, "the reputation of responsible EGSs that do no engage in door-to-door
marketing will be harmed, as will the public perception of the benefits of competition,"
The PUC said that it plans to initiate a rulemaking process for permanent marketing
standards, but because the rulemaking process can take a year or more to complete,
the interim guidelines will provide direction and be effective until final regulations
are completed. The Commission said the guidelines should not be used as a shield,
and suppliers are expected to conduct their marketing activities in good faith and
with fair dealing with customers.