PUC Issues Waiver Of Third Party Verification For Certain Sales
November 14, 2018 Email This Story Copyright 2010-17 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Public Utility Commission of Ohio has granted, at the request of several retail natural gas suppliers, a waiver of the third party verification requirement contained in its natural gas rules for customer-initiated inbound calls in which the entire sales call is recorded
As exclusively first reported by EnergyChoiceMatters.com, the suppliers had said Rule 4901:1-29-06(E)(1), OAC, appears to require third-party verification for telephonic enrollments by retail natural gas suppliers and governmental aggregators even if the entire call is recorded by the supplier or aggregator and the recording is archived and retained as required by Rule 4901: 1-29-06(E)(2)(b), OAC.
The current rule states that, "To enroll a customer telephonically, a retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator, shall make a date- and time-stamped audio recording of the sales portion of the call, if the customer is enrolled, and before the completion of the enrollment process, a date- and time- stamped audio recording by an independent third-party verifier that verifies, at a minimum, the following ..."
The suppliers sought a waiver of the TPV requirement with respect to customer-initiated inbound calls in which the entire sales call is recorded
The suppliers noted that the electricity rules, adopted at the same time as the gas rules, do not require a TPV if the entire sales call is recorded. Reciting the history of the gas rulemaking, the suppliers had said that "there are strong indications that, despite the language that made its way into the new version of Paragraph (E)(1) of Rule 4901:1-29-06, OAC, the Commission's actual intent was not to require TPV for telephonic enrollment where the entire call is recorded by the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator."
PUCO granted the requested waiver, and said that the rule waiver shall be extended to apply to all CRNGS [retail] suppliers
"The Commission finds that the Applicants have shown good cause for the requested waiver. Accordingly, the Applicants' request for a waiver of the provision of Ohio Adm.Code 4901:l-29-06(E)(l) requiring third-party verification of the enrollment on inbound calls, where the retail natural gas supplier or governmental aggregator records the entire call, should be granted," PUCO said
"As noted by the Applicants, the transfer of a call by a telemarketer to a call center representative after a prospective customer has expressed interest in an offer does not constitute an inbound call under this waiver. The Commission also emphasizes that the other requirements of Ohio Adm.Code 4901:l-29-06(E)(l) must still be met; therefore, the Applicants must record the entire call, including the sales portion, the enrollment portion, and the verification portion. Additionally, the Applicants must continue ensuring that the other specific items listed in the rule are verified with the customer in clear, plain language," PUCO said
The Commission ordered that the waiver should be granted only until the Commission issues an order addressing the TPV requirement for telephonic enrollment in the pending five-year rule review in Case No. 17-1847-GA-ORD.
"The Commission agrees with Staff that it is appropriate to test a more streamlined inbound enrollment process, as a means to inform our review of this issue in the pending rulemaking," PUCO said
PUCO declined to allow OCC to conduct discovery in the proceeding.
"The Commission finds that, as the application for waiver has been granted and OCC has not sought to compel discovery, it is not necessary for the Applicants to respond to OCC's discovery requests. The issues raised in the application for waiver will be further addressed in the Commission's CRNGS rule review process and OCC will have the opportunity to fully participate in that proceeding," PUCO said