Utility Receives Authority For CSRs To Discuss Price To Compare Information, Supplier's Rate During Customer Calls
May 30, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Illinois Commerce Commission granted Commonwealth Edison's petition for a declaratory ruling and said that ComEd's proposed policy of directing its customer service representatives (CSRs) to discuss certain Price To Compare (PTC) information during customer calls is permitted under applicable regulations
However, ComEd in its petition said that, "despite ComEd’s implementation of the written disclosure, customers are contacting ComEd’s call center with questions on their bills, expressing their ongoing confusion related to energy supply charges and/or seeking clarification on the PTC. Since January 1, 2019, ComEd has received more than 1,300 calls where customers inquired about or discussed the PTC. Moreover, ComEd contemplates moving the PTC to a more prominent position on the bill. As ComEd implements this change, ComEd expects customer inquiries to increase."
ComEd said that, "Currently, ComEd CSRs will point customers to the ARES’ contact information (name, website, and/or phone number) already listed on their bill and will refer customers to the ICC’s website for customer choice [PlugIn IL]. ComEd CSRs will advise customers to contact their particular ARES for additional information on their rate, and sometimes may refer customers to their specific supply contract. To help address questions regarding charges or changes in the applicable charges (e.g., high bills), ComEd CSRs may compare current billing period usage to usage levels in previous billing periods. In certain instances, ComEd CSRs may also identify and explain changes between months in the applicable delivery service rates and supply prices, but they do not disclose the PTC."
"It has become clear, however, that even after these interactions with CSRs, customers who reach ComEd’s call center may still not be receiving sufficient information to make informed decisions on their energy supply. As a result, in addition to the written disclosure and the limited verbal interactions described above, ComEd would like to be able to disclose information about the PTC to customers," ComEd said in its petition
"In order to further the goals of the ORMD and more fully assist customers, ComEd proposes to direct CSRs to discuss the PTC with customers, including explaining what the PTC is, and directing customers to both the language on ComEd’s bills, which may be amended from time to time as directed by the Commission, and to the PTC information disclosed on the Commission’s website. ComEd plans to inform customers of frequently asked questions that may be helpful to discuss with ARES, providing information akin to what is already available on the Commission’s website for customer choice ... In addition, ComEd will also direct its CSRs to inform customers that they should contact their ARES for specifics about their particular contract, including any special offers received that may have impacted their supply charge," ComEd said in its petition
"ComEd will instruct CSRs to limit their discussion to specific facts, e.g. the specific supply price the customer is paying as reflected on the customer’s bill, if known, and the PTC. ComEd will instruct CSRs not to provide any recommendation to the customers on whether they should or should not switch to an ARES or discuss the quality of service of the ARES," ComEd said in its petition
"It is ComEd’s intent that the proposed communications concerning the PTC will function to allow customers to make more informed decisions regarding their supply options. The communications will be made to all customers who call in to ComEd’s call center to inquire about the PTC or to complain about supply charges, regardless of whether the PTC is higher or lower than the price each customer pays for supply. As stated above, the communications will not make any recommendations or reach any conclusions on the data provided regarding the PTC and the price the individual customer pays for supply. Instead, they will assist in allowing customers to draw their own conclusions and make informed decisions," ComEd said in its petition
A proposed order from an ALJ has proposed to grant ComEd's petition without modification or condition
The proposed order had said that the customer questions that ComEd CSRs were receiving, as noted above, should be included in the previously directed workshops concerning refinements to the previously authorized PTC language which now appears on utility consolidated bills. ICC Staff filed an exception to the draft decision on this point, noting that Staff will shortly file a report on the prior workshop process, and that pending legislation could also address the information that ComEd CSRs may share with customers. Staff suggested that holding workshops prior to resolution of these issues would not be reasonable
This was the only exception to the proposed order, after the Retail Energy Supply Association said that it was withdrawing its objections to ComEd's petition. Originally, RESA had expressed concern with the lack of specific language for CSRs in ComEd's petition
ComEd had said in its petition that it is prepared to roll out the additional verbal customer messaging in June 2019.