By Georgia Mae Lively and Meryl Sands–3/10/2020
Pennsylvania has a deregulated electricity market, meaning Pennsylvanians can buy their electricity from The Energy Co-op instead of their local utility. This means that the electricity market has become very competitive, and while choice and competition are good qualities to have in a marketplace, it can also lead to bad actors using bad practices to get ahead. One of those bad practices in the electricity market is known as slamming. Slamming is when an electricity supplier uses a customer’s information to enroll them for service without the customer’s knowledge or consent.
How can you tell if you’re being slammed?
Slammers tend to misrepresent themselves to get the information they need. One method they often use to get your information is saying they are calling from your utility, whether it’s PECO or PPL. They might also use vague language to make you assume they are calling from your existing supplier. They would say something like, “have you renewed your rate recently?”, allowing you to believe that you are speaking with an Energy Co-op employee and making you comfortable with giving out your utility account number. They might also give you the impression that they are taking your account number simply to give you more information about their services. This may result in you receiving a notice in the mail notifying you that your service was changed, even though you don’t remember signing up for a new supplier.
How can you avoid being slammed?
If a supplier asks you to sign any documents, make sure to read them very carefully before signing. REMINDER: The Energy Co-op does not have contracts with its residential members and would not ask you to sign anything, especially over the phone. All we ask you for when you sign up with us is your PECO account number, and when it’s time to renew your fixed rate we don’t ask for any new personal information. In addition, The Energy Co-op will never come to your home to ask you to sign up for anything. Avoid giving out your utility account number or any other personal information unless you are completely certain about signing up.
What can Energy Co-op members do if they think they’ve been slammed?
Call us at (215) 413-2122! We can help you get re-enrolled with our services. You can also file a complaint against the company that slammed you with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Company here.
Why does slamming happen?
Some electricity suppliers use incentive structures that reward their salespeople solely on commission. The more people they sign up, the more money they can make. This makes salespeople desperate to close sales and can lead to them resorting to bad practices. There are also just bad actors out there who will try to get new enrollments by any means necessary, whether or not they’re working on commission. All of this is the result of a lack of quality control and oversight in the industry. Lastly, consumers tend to be unaware of slamming as an issue and just don’t know what the risks are. Just by reading this blog post, you are way ahead many of your fellow consumers.
Slamming is an unfortunate side effect of the level of energy choice we have here in Pennsylvania, so stay vigilant and make sure you don’t fall victim to bad practices. If you have any questions about slamming or your electricity service, we are here for you! Just give us a call at (215) 413-2122 or email us at [email protected].