Regulator Directs Retail Suppliers To Report On Customers Served Via Auto-Renewal, Fixed Vs. Variable, Low-Income
Invites Revised Proposals On Marketing Scripts, Contract Summary, Renewal Notice
August 19, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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A hearing office at Massachusetts DPU directed retail suppliers to submit information concerning their numbers of customers served under auto-renewals, and the nature of such service
Concerning proposed reporting requirements that DPU Staff have developed, the hearing office said in a memo that, "At the August 6th meeting, Department staff stated that we will distribute reports associated with automatic renewal and contract pricing to competitive suppliers. These tables are included as Attachment 1 to this memorandum. As discussed during the August 6th meeting, the Department requests that suppliers submit their populated tables no later than September 13, 2019."
One table concerns auto-renewed residential contracts (for customers who had been on a fixed price of 6 months or longer), and requires suppliers to report, broken down by certain months in 2019, the number of auto-renewed customers, whether they are served under a fixed or monthly price, and how many customers took a new contract rather than automatically renewing.
Separately, another report requires suppliers to list the supplier's total residential customers on fixed versus monthly price contracts, and the number of auto-renewed customers served via fixed versus monthly price contracts. For each category, suppliers must report the total customers as well as the number of low-income customers.
The hearing examiner also invited the retail supplier working group to submit a revised proposal for the contract summary, opening and closing marketing scripts, and automatic renewal notice, based on Staff's previously reported proposed revisions.
As exclusively reported by EnergyChoiceMatters.com, Staff proposed modifying the supplier proposal to, among other things, include a requirement that in door-to-door and telemarketing that the supplier be required to provide an additional disclaimer when marketing to a customer in a municipal aggregation community. Staff would also require explicit questions at the start of a marketing pitch concerning whether the customer is the customer of record, and whether the customer wishes to continue the sales pitch (see our prior story for the specifically proposed language)
The DPU requested that the supplier group include in the revised proposals a description of (1) how they propose to address customers for whom English is not their primary language, and (2) how their introductory marketing scripts comply with, "G.L. c. 159, § 5A." [sic, it is understood this should be G.L. c. 159C, § 5A, relating to telemarketing disclosures] The Department requests that the supplier group submits its revised proposals no later than September 20, 2019.
Concerning the previously reported (details here) supplier proposal to test various forms of renewal notices and timing, the hearing examiner said that the Department seeks to work with the supplier group to better understand the proposal, and to formulate a plan to move forward with its implementation. Department staff will contact the supplier group in an effort to move forward on this issue.
Concerning the consumer advocates' previously reported supplier licensing proposal (see details here), the hearing examiner said that the Department seeks to work with the consumer advocate group to refine its proposal related to (1) the information that the Department might post on its website related to license applications (to improve the transparency of the licensing process), (2) additional information the Department might require as part of the licensing process (to improve the effectiveness of the process), and (3) ongoing reporting requirements.
The DPU similarly seeks to work with the consumer advocate group to identify ways in which it can improve the usefulness of its existing door-to-door marketing notices. Department staff will contact the consumer advocate group in an effort to move forward on these issues. For more details on the consumer advocates marketing oversight proposals, click here