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PUC Approves Settlement With Retail Supplier Concerning Several Instances Of Alleged Slamming

April 15, 2021

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Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • ring@energychoicematters.com

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The Pennsylvania PUC approved without modification a settlement between Vista Energy Marketing, L.P. and the PUC's Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement (I&E), under which Vista will pay $4,000 to resolve four alleged instances of slamming

EnergyChoiceMatters.com exclusively first reported the settlement in 2019

The matter was opened as a result of the PUC's Bureau of Consumer Services (BCS) receipt of six allegations from customers that their electric generation service had been switched to Vista without the customers’ authorization

In each complaint, once Vista became aware of the mistaken enrollments, it took immediate corrective action, including cancelling the complainants’ enrollment with Vista, ensuring that no charges were assessed to the complainants, including crediting or re-rating the customer as necessary, and punishing the agents accordingly. The 2019 settlement agreement states that, "Vista acknowledges that due to the success of its event marketing enrollments, its increased sales volume challenged its QA [quality assurance] resources. As a result, it developed what it considered to be a more risk-oriented approach to QA by utilizing algorithms that were designed to identify higher risk sales. This approach to QA was used in limited circumstances when higher sales volume prevented one hundred percent QA review of TPVs. On January 25, 2018, Vista resumed its previous practice of having one hundred percent of TPVs reviewed by a QA agent."

As a result of an investigation, I&E was prepared to allege that in four instances, the customer had their electric generation supplier switched to Vista without the authorization of the customer.

"I&E found that this likely occurred as a result of Vista incorporating its risk-oriented approach to QA, as discussed ... above. I&E’s investigation did not reveal any other instances where residential customers had their electric generation service switched to Vista without the customer’s authorization," the 2019 settlement states

In addition to the $4,000 civil penalty, Vista agreed to various remedial measures to resolve the matter.

Among such measures are:

• For each third-party vendor with whom Vista seeks to engage in business, Vista will affirmatively inquire about whether the agents, whose actions are the cause of this present matter, is employed by or associated with the company.

• For a term of twelve (12) months starting after the date of entry of the Commission’s order approving settlement in this matter, Vista shall provide to BCS staff, in the first week of each calendar quarter, a report for the prior quarter that captures the following data concerning customer complaints filed directly with Vista: (1) the number of complaints by category, i.e. slamming, do-not-call list violations, incorrect charges, etc.; and (2) any process improvements, organizational changes, etc. that were implemented to reduce or eliminate similar complaints going forward.

In a 2019 statement in support of the settlement agreement, Vista had said as follows: "Vista has taken steps to ensure that the circumstances that led to this investigation will not be repeated. Specifically, Vista took immediate corrective action once it became aware of the mistaken enrollments at issue in this matter. Vista ensures that no charges were assessed to any of the Complainants and removed the agents responsible for the mistaken enrollments. Moreover, Vista implemented increased quality assurance (“QA”) protocols in response to the complaints to prevent unauthorized sales from becoming actual enrollments."

In a 2019 statement in support of the settlement agreement, Vista had further said that: "As fully explained in the Settlement Agreement, Vista has also taken steps to amend its policies and procedures to prevent reoccurrence. Vista requires review of 100% of its third-party verifications ('TPVs') to ensure that customers are voluntarily switching to Vista. Vista regularly audits all of its enrollments to ensure compliance with Pennsylvania regulations and requirements. As such, Vista is in compliance with the Commission’s regulations and has taken substantial action to prevent future potential violations of Commission regulations."

Docket M-2019-2633094

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