Draft Order Would Require Retail Suppliers To Record Entirety Of All Door-to-Door, Telemarketing Sales
Suppliers Would Be Required To Disclose Default Service Rate In Sales Process & TPV
Suppliers Would Be Required To Seek Regulator's Approval For Contract Assignments (Book Sales, etc.)
January 7, 2020 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
The following story is brought free of charge to readers byEC Infosystems, the exclusive EDI provider of EnergyChoiceMatters.com
A draft Connecticut PURA decision on electric supplier marketing standards would require that suppliers record the entirety of all telesales and door-to-door sales
Specifically, the draft marketing standards would provide that, "Each Electric Supplier shall record the entirety of all telesales calls and door-to-door marketing lasting ten seconds or longer with all residential customers or potential residential customers, and shall retain such recordings for three years after the date such recording was made."
The draft marketing standards contain new provisions governing the sales process, as well as verification.
Notable is that during the door to door and telesales process, the supplier must inform the customer of what the standard service (default service) rate is on the date of the sale, in cents per kilowatt hour, and, if the sale is being conducted within 45 calendar days of a change to the standard service rate, the date that the standard service rate will change and what the standard service rate will be on that date in cents per kilowatt hour
Furthermore, the TPV must state the applicable standard service rate and confirm the customer is aware that if they were on standard service they would pay that rate (Customer must respond yes/no)
The draft provides that electric suppliers must update all verbal and electronic marketing materials disclosing the EDC standard service price "immediately" upon PURA’s release of a new standard service price.
The draft would find that the Authority has found that suppliers have no legitimate reason to obtain a residential customer’s account number or request that a customer retrieve her bill prior to the customer assenting to contract with the supplier, which would be at the point of the TPV
As such, the draft provides that, "When conducting door-to-door calls to all residential customers or potential residential customers, no Electric Supplier may request the account information from a potential customer or request that a potential customer retrieve account information or the potential customer's electric distribution company bill until immediately before the customer or potential customer is being transferred to the TPV, or other means of contract verification indicated by statute."
Similarly, the draft provides that, "When conducting telesales calls to all residential customers or potential residential customers, no Electric Supplier may request the customer’s account information or request that a customer retrieve account information or electric distribution company bill until immediately before the customer or potential customer is being transferred to the TPV, or other means of contract verification indicated by statute."
The draft would provide that, "All TPVs must demonstrate that the customers have a clear understanding of the services offered and the customer’s consent to enroll with the Electric Supplier must be both voluntary and unequivocal. If at any time during a TPV the customer cannot answer a question, the verification process must end."
The draft would require that any written offer directed to a residential customer eligible for standard service (residential and commercial under 500 kW) shall contain the following disclosure statement:
Licensed Electric Suppliers are required to post the highest and lowest generation service charge rate that was billed to their customers under a variable rate offer in each of the preceding 12 months. You can find this information on [ABC Electric’s] website at www.abcelectric(.)com/past_variable_rates or on the supplier Rate Board that is maintained by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority at www.energizect.com/compare-energy-suppliers.
Under the draft, this Disclosure Statement shall appear on all written offers between the supplier and the customer, including but not limited to:
• The supplier’s website, where offers are presented
• Direct mail advertisements
• Newspaper ads
• Magazine ads
• Email ads
• Any advertisement materials used in door-to-door solicitation, where an offer is presented
The draft provides that, when conducting door-to-door calls to all residential customers or potential residential customers, each Electric Supplier shall begin by immediately stating: (A) The full name of the Electric Supplier conducting the call; (B) that the purpose of the call is to sell electric supply service to the customer or potential customer; and (C) that such Electric Supplier does not represent and is not affiliated with the customer’s local utility company. A similar provision would apply to telemarketing
The draft provides that, "When conducting door-to-door calls to all residential customers or potential residential customers, each Electric Supplier is prohibited from: (A) representing that such Electric Supplier or its offer is affiliated with any state or utility program; (B) representing that any state program encourages or requires Connecticut electric customers to obtain an Electric Supplier; (C) representing that the local electric utility encourages or requires Connecticut electric customers to obtain an Electric Supplier; and (D) representing that the standard service rate is a variable rate." A similar provision would apply to telemarketing
The draft provides that, "No telephone solicitor acting on behalf of an Electric Supplier may cause to be installed or may use any blocking device or service to circumvent a consumer’s use of a caller identification service or device. No such telephone solicitor may transmit inaccurate or misleading caller identification information, such as, but not limited to, the EDC name, 'Disconnection', 'Emergency', Electric Choice' or 'Customer Service'. The Electric Supplier shall ensure that the phone number that appears on the customer’s caller identification information is accurate and allows for the customer to call back. It is the responsibility of the Electric Supplier to ensure that all employees, representatives, agents, brokers, vendors, or any individual or group of individuals acting on behalf of or under contract to the supplier are not engaging in false, misleading or deceptive conduct. If deceptive conduct is discovered, the supplier must immediately notify the Authority in writing within ten (10) business days of discovery of the incident. Such notification shall include a detailed description of the incident, the investigation and the planned resolution."
The draft would require that all of an Electric Supplier’s generally available rates must be posted to the Rate Board. 'Generally available rate' means a generation rate that is offered to customers taking service under a rate tariff or to an entire class or specific subset of residential or business customers Offers that are displayed on a supplier’s website are deemed to be generally available.
The draft would require suppliers to monitor and self-report marketing violations. "It is the responsibility of every Electric Supplier to ensure that any entity or individual marketing and/or acting on behalf of does not engage in false, misleading or deceptive trade practices, nor perform unauthorized switching of customer accounts. If deceptive trade practices are discovered, the Electric Supplier must notify the Authority in writing as soon as possible, but no later than within ten (10) business days of discovery. Such notification shall include a detailed description of the incident, the current state of the investigation, and the planned resolution, with updates as required by the Authority," the draft provides
The draft would require suppliers to notify PURA of any assignment of contracts 90 days in advance, and would subject assignments to PURA approval or modification
Under the draft, prior to assigning or transferring any customers to another supplier, an Electric Supplier must file a 'Notice of Assignment' with the Authority no later than ninety (90) days prior to the date of assignment or transfer.
Under the draft, customer assignments or transfers must be approved or modified by the Authority within fifteen business days of the Authority’s receipt of a completed notice from the supplier, containing all items listed above, unless the Authority and Electric Supplier agree to a specified extension of time.
"The Authority may assess additional licensing fees to pay the administrative costs of reviewing a request for such transfer or assignment," the draft provides
Under the draft, upon its review of the Notice of Assignment, the Authority may require certain conditions, including granting the customer the option to terminate or cancel services with the new Electric Supplier with no cancellation fee charged to the customer should the customer terminate or cancel service up to seven (7) business days after receiving the first billing statement reflecting charges from the new Electric Supplier.