PUC Adopts Settlement Under Which Retail Supplier Will Pay $30,000 Forfeiture
Settlement Resolves Alleged Pattern Of Deceptive Behavior From Agents Representing The Supplier
May 20, 2020 Email This Story Copyright 2010-20 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio adopted a settlement agreement between Median Energy Corp. and PUCO Staff, under which Median Energy Corp. has agreed to a forfeiture of $30,000 to resolve all of the issues alleged by Staff in a Notice of Probable Non-Compliance dated November 18, 2019, including an alleged, "pattern of deceptive behavior from agents representing Median."
As previously reported, Staff's Notice of Probable Non-Compliance had alleged that Staff's review of various investigations of customer complaints, "revealed a pattern of deceptive behavior from agents representing Median."
Staff's Notice of Probable Non-Compliance had alleged that, "After reviewing contracts, third-party verification (TPV) recordings, and responses from Median, Staff determined that enrollments are being completed by someone other than the customer. Information given during the TPV does not match the information of the account holder. For example, on some of the TPV recordings, the person acting as the customer gives a name that is not the account holder, and when asked, responds that the account is in their name. In addition, telephone numbers do not match the customer’s information, and, in some cases, the address given varies from the actual address of the account holder."
Staff's Notice of Probable Non-Compliance had alleged that, "During the investigation, Staff identified more than twenty unique representatives involved with deceptively enrolling customers. The enrollments reviewed were conducted on various dates covering at least a thirteen month time span, and occurred in multiple geographic locations. The range of enrollment dates and locations indicates that this is a widespread problem for Median Energy."
Staff's Notice of Probable Non-Compliance had alleged violations of specific provisions of the Ohio Adm.Code under a section detailing probable non-compliance violations, including alleged violations of rules requiring that suppliers not engage in unfair, misleading, deceptive, or unconscionable acts of practices, and alleged violations of rules requiring that suppliers shall not change or authorize the changing of a customer’s supplier without the customer’s prior consent
In the Notice of Probable Non-Compliance, Staff had originally proposed a forfeiture of two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000)
The stipulation noted that, on its own volition, Median had suspended all marketing before receiving a Staff request to suspend door-to-door marketing that had been included in the Notice of Probable Non-Compliance
In addition to the forfeiture of $30,000, Median agrees under the stipulation to notify Staff at least 30 days prior to resuming marketing. This notification will include a list of areas, including zip codes, in which they will recommence their door-to-door marketing so that Staff can monitor complaints.
Median also provided Staff with a detailed compliance plan. The plan includes additional oversights of its vendors and various other improved processes.