Retail Supplier Agrees To $19,000 Forfeiture, Customer Re-Rates, Under Stipulation With PUC Staff
PUC Staff Had Alleged Sales Calls Had Referred To Enrollments As Simply Entering A Sweepstakes
August 20, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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SmartEnergy Holdings, LLC ("SmartEnergy") has entered into a stipulation with Staff of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio under which SmartEnergy agrees to a forfeiture of $19,000, upon approval of the stipulation by the Commission, to resolve all of the issues identified by the Staff in a Notice of Probable Non-Compliance dated July 13, 2018
The stipulation states that SmartEnergy has implemented all of the corrective actions proposed in the Staff's Notice
SmartEnergy provided the following statement to EnergyChoiceMatters.com: "SmartEnergy takes matters such as these very seriously. We very much appreciate the work done by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). While we did not agree with all of the issues raised, we worked with the PUCO staff to resolve all issues to their satisfaction."
Specifically, both parties recognize that, to the best of its knowledge, SmartEnergy has
performed the following:
a. Reviewed all complaints brought to SmartEnergy's attention by Staff and resolved the
complaints to Staff's satisfaction, including re-rating customers.
b. Provided Staff with the contracts, welcome letters, standard communications, scripts,
and marketing materials related to the current marketing offer and agreed with all of
Staff's recommended changes to this material.
c. Ceased marketing and enrollments using the sweepstakes marketing offers that Staff
believes to be out of compliance with applicable Ohio Administrative Code provisions.
SmartEnergy's agreement to the stipulation is not an admission of any
allegations in the Notice Letter or any other violation of law
In the Notice of Probable Non-Compliance, Staff had alleged that a review of SmartEnergy sales calls, "revealed that SmartEnergy sales agents were using misleading
and deceptive practices to market to and enroll customers, including referring to the
enrollment as simply entering a sweepstakes."
In the Notice of Probable Non-Compliance Staff had alleged Probable Non-Compliance Violations as follows:
1. Ohio Adm.Code 4901:1-21-03(A) and 4901:1-21-05(C)- CRES providers
"shall not engage in unfair, misleading, deceptive or unconscionable acts
or practices related to * * * (1) Marketing, solicitation, or sale of a CRES.
(2) Administration of contracts for CRES. (3) Provision of CRES, including
interactions with consumers."
2. Ohio Adm.Code 4901:1-21-06(D)(2)(a)(i) - To enroll a customer
telephonically, CRES providers must verify with the customer the exact
purpose of the call.
3. Ohio Adm.Code 4901:1-21-06(0)(2)(a)(iii)- The telephonic enrollment
must include "A verbal statement and the customer's acknowledgement
that the CRES provider is not the customer's current electric utility
company and that the customer may choose to remain with the electric
utility company or enroll with another CRES provider."
Staff had originally proposed a forfeiture of $32,500 in the original Notice of Probable Non-Compliance