PSC Adopts Rule Changes Clarifying Rescission Period
December 6, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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The District of Columbia PSC has adopted final rules clarifying the start of the rescission period for electric and natural gas contracts
Currently, Subsection 327.15 provides a customer with three (3) business days to rescind a contract regardless of the solicitation method, and reads as follows:
An Energy Supplier shall advise a Customer that he/she has the right to rescind the Contract agreement within the three (3) business day Rescission Period that begins on one of the following dates:
a. When the Customer signs the Contract;
b. When a positive Third-Party Verification or electronic recording has been made;
c. When the Customer transmits the electronic acceptance of the Contract electronically; or
d. When the Completed Written Contract is deposited in the U.S. Mail.
The Office of People's Counsel contended that, under the current language, the commencement of the rescission period is unclear in a situation where the contract is mailed to the customer. OPC argued that when the contract is mailed to a customer, that customer should be in receipt of the contract before the rescission period commences.
"The Commission concurs with OPC that consumers should have an opportunity to receive the completed written contract before the rescission period begins even though it could result in a slight delay in the customer receiving the new service from the energy supplier," the PSC said
The PSC essentially modified Subsection 327.15 (d) such that the rescission period shall begin when a mailed contract is received by the customer, and established a rebuttable presumption concerning delivery time, instead of the start of the rescission period being based on when the contract is deposited in the mail.
However, language in the PSC's final order differs slightly from the language in the most recent NOPR, which the PSC also said in its final order that it was adopting.
Specifically, in discussing the rescission period change, the PSC's final order states that Subsection 327.15 (d), "shall read as follows: 'When the Completed Written Contract is received in the U.S. Mail, there is a rebuttable presumption that a Contract correctly addressed to a Customer, with sufficient first-class postage attached, shall be received by the Customer three (3) days after depositing in the U.S. Mail.'"
The PSC also said in its final order that, "The Commission hereby adopts the amendments to Subsections 310.3 and 327.15 in the NOPR."
However, the NOPR included the following language for Subsection 327.15 (d), which is slightly different: "When the Completed Written Contract is received by U.S. mail; there is a rebuttable presumption that a Contract correctly addressed to a Customer, with sufficient first-class postage attached, shall be received by the Customer three (3) days after depositing in the U.S. Mail."
Aside from the use of a semicolon versus a comma, the NOPR had used the phrase "is received by U.S. mail" versus the narrative language from the final order which states, "is received in the U.S. Mail."
OPC also raised concerns about the incongruity between Subsections 327.15 and 327.18 as it relates to the mailing of contracts and the commencement of the rescission period which OPC believes should not begin until the customer is in receipt of the Completed Written Contract.
Specifically, OPC noted that section 327.18 separately provides that, "[o]nce the Customer's choice of Energy Supplier is verified by an Independent Third-Party Verifier or an electronic recording is made, the Energy suppliers shall, within five (5) business days from the day the Customer agreed telephonically to Contract with the Energy Supplier, provide to the Customer via U.S. Mail or electronic mail a copy of the Completed Written Contract."
OPC said that, "In situations where a contract is mailed, the present rules make it impossible for consumers and Energy Suppliers to determine the amount of time in which a consumer has to cancel their contract."
The PSC said that the amendments to Subsection 327.15 (d) described above, "clarify that for mailed contracts the rescission period begins upon receipt."
"Subsection 327.18 requires the Energy Supplier to mail a Completed Written Contract within five business days of contracting by telephone solicitation. Since Subsection 327.15 (d) makes it clear that the rescission period for mailed contracts does not begin until the customer receives the Completed Written Contract there is no need to amend Subsection 327.18. Thus, there were no proposed changes to this Subsection," the PSC said