Retail Energy Marketer To Cease Selling In State, Pay $150,000 Under Settlement With Attorney General
November 15, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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Platinum Advertising has agreed not to operate in Massachusetts for one year and to pay $150,000 to settle allegations of deceptive marketing and sales tactics for retail electric contracts, under an agreement Massachusetts Attorney General (AG) Maura Healey
In an assurance of discontinuance, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, the AG’s Office alleges, "that Platinum Advertising, through its door-to-door marketing on behalf of competitive electric suppliers, falsely promised energy savings, falsely represented an affiliation with the customer’s utility company, switched customers to a competitive electric supplier without authorization, entered customers’ homes without permission, and berated customers who refused to sign a contract with one of the suppliers for whom Platinum marketed electricity supply," the AG's office said in a news release
In the assurance of discontinuance, the AG also alleges that, "Platinum Agents impersonated customers on third-party verification calls."
Platinum Advertising denies all wrongdoing that is alleged in the assurance of discontinuance
In a statement, a representative for Platinum Advertising stated, "Platinum cooperated fully with the investigation by the AG’s Office from the beginning. While Platinum denied the allegations of the AG’s Office, Platinum was nevertheless pleased to have reached an amicable settlement with the AG’s Office. Platinum looks forward to implementing better practices as described in the Assurance of Discontinuance and resuming business in Massachusetts following the agreed upon 1-year suspension."
The AG's office said in a news release that, "The AG’s Office also alleges that customers who switched to competitive electric suppliers through Platinum Advertising ultimately paid more for electricity than if they had stayed with their utility."
"This case is part of my office’s efforts to stop predatory competitive supply companies, and the aggressive third-party marketers who work on their behalf, from scamming customers in our state," Healey said
Under the terms of the settlement with Platinum, the company and its employees will stop engaging in any conduct that is in violation of the state’s consumer protection law and its regulations. The company has agreed not to market or sell electricity or gas contracts to Massachusetts customers for a one-year period and has agreed to re-train all Platinum agents in the state and adopt a strict compliance policy that requires the termination of any Platinum agent who is complained about by three or more customers during any six-month period, the AG's office said in a news release
The company’s marketing materials must also accurately disclose the length of the customer’s contract and whether the contract will automatically renew and the amount of any termination fees, the AG's office said in a news release
"This settlement is part of AG Healey’s ongoing efforts to address the unfair and deceptive practices in the individual residential electric supply market. In January, she filed legislation that would ban suppliers from contracting directly with residential customers for new contracts after Jan. 1, 2020. The legislation would not change Massachusetts’ cities and towns’ municipal aggregation programs or the markets for commercial and industrial electric supply," the AG's office said in a news release
"The AG’s Office has also released two reports on the individual residential electric supply industry in Massachusetts. Together, the reports found that Massachusetts electric customers who switched to a competitive electric supplier paid $253 million more than if they had remained with their existing service over the course of three years (July 2015 – June 2018)," the AG's office said in a news release