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Regulator Issues Order Prohibiting Retail Supplier From Enrolling New Customers Via Any Means Other Than Online Enrollments, For Six Months

Imposes $1.5 Million Civil Penalty On Retail Supplier

May 1, 2019

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Copyright 2010-19
Reporting by Paul Ring •

The following story is brought free of charge to readers by EC Infosystems, the exclusive EDI provider of

The Connecticut PURA issued a final order imposing on Direct Energy Services, LLC a civil penalty in the amount of one million five hundred thousand dollars ($1,500,000) for violations of Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 16-245, 16-245o, 16-245s, and 42-110b

PURA further ordered that Direct is prohibited from accepting new residential customers and/or marketing to residential customers via any means other than online enrollments for six months (from May 16, 2019 through November 16, 2019.)

Direct Energy issued the following statement to

"We are pleased that this six-year investigation has come to an end and PURA has included our request to continue online sales. Since 2013, we cooperated fully in this investigation and immediately took action to ensure any customer-specific issues were satisfactorily resolved. We take all complaints very seriously, and take responsibility to enforce compliance laws and regulations in every state we operate. We care about our customers and will continue to have a presence in the Connecticut competitive energy market." -- Direct Energy

Direct must submit to auditing of all marketing by the Authority for one year after the end of the six-month prohibition on accepting new customers, PURA ordered

Additionally, PURA ordered that, from November 17, 2019 through November 17, 2020, Direct shall maintain complete audio recordings of the entire interaction for all marketing calls made by it or on its behalf by any third party

In brief the Authority found that Direct:

" 1) misstated standard service price;

2) did not state in its marketing that it did not represent an EDC;

3) did not explain the purpose of its solicitations;

4) misrepresented cancellation fees;

5) used undefined terms and did not accurately explain rates;

6) implied customers must choose a supplier;

7) mislead [sic] customers into believing generation charges were the total bill;

8) coached customers and answering questions through the third-party verification (TPV) process;

9) charged excessive cancellation fees;

10) did not directly train its third-party agents;

11) engaged in other unfair and deceptive marketing practices, including but not limited to, making misleading statements in its marketing;

12) did not have Spanish marketing materials available when conducting solicitations and sales; and

13) did not have Spanish-language contracts available when conducting solicitations and sales, resulting in invalid contracts"

The allegations giving rise to PURA's order, and PURA's consideration of Direct Energy's arguments concerning various statutory interpretations, were more fully discussed in's prior exclusive analysis of a draft decision in the proceeding (click here)

For a further discussion, and to see how certain exceptions to the draft were addressed, see the final order here

Docket 13-07-17

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