A Loophole in Direct Energy Regulated Services’ Operations Makes Victims Across Alberta
Did you know that if you cancel your account with Direct Energy Regulated Services, they will activate it again 5 days later, without your permission? That’s right. It means that if you move to a different location and put new tenants in your place, Direct Energy will reactivate your account without telling you. So, if you rent the home out for a year and the renters do not bother to call DERS (why would they, since they see they have utilities), you could be charged thousands of dollars without knowing.
This nightmare just happened to Lawrence M, from Edmonton, who now has to pay 1,013.16 due to a loophole that Direct Energy has in their modus operandi. But here is more.
Let’s review the case in simple terms:
– Lawrence moved to a different city for a year to take care of his old folks.
– He rented his place to new tenants but canceled his Direct Energy Regulated Services account before that.
– Direct Energy reactivated his account automatically without calling him or sending him an email five days later.
– For a year, Lawrence accumulated $1013 in “services” while the renters didn’t bother to call since they saw they have utilities included.
– Direct Energy is refusing to waive the charge even though they reactivated Lawrence’s account without consent.
There are many wrong things with this picture. So, let’s take them one by one.
If you don’t pay your utilities on time, a standard procedure would be for the company to stop providing services after a couple of months. After reactivating Lawrence’s account without permission, Direct Energy did not do that! They kept charging his account.
What if the victim would move away for 5 years? Yup, Direct Energy Regulated Services would charge you all this time.
Why Didn’t Direct Energy Stop?
The question is, why didn’t Direct Energy Regulated Services stop providing services when they saw the bill is not paid? “When I returned and received the bill, I phoned them desperately to find out how come my account was still active when I deliberately called them to cancel it,” says Lawrence. How did DERS respond?
“They said they could definitely verify the fact that I called and canceled it. However, after you cancel your account, they reactivate it automatically after 5 days if no one calls to take over a new one at that address. So scammy. They don’t call you, as the owner, to inform you about the new reactivation. They don’t email you either.”, adds Lawrence.
Since the owner calls the company to cancel for a reason, how does it make sense to reactivate it after only 5 days silently?
Here is What Direct Energy Regulated Services Doesn’t Want You To Know
For starters, when you call to cancel, you don’t call, well, to cancel – in DERS’ view. To them, canceling is not putting their services on the shelf as you might want. In order to do that, you need to say that you want their services wholly removed, like physically. Dissolved. Deleted. Full Suspension. All the synonyms you can find.
Direct Energy refuses to waive the victim’s account charges as they claim legislation – under the Alberta Utilities Commission.
“After I canceled my account, I had peace of mind that the renters will call to open their own and – if there were a problem – Direct Energy would contact me as the owner. The renters saw the utilities work since the company reactivated my account without consent, and – of course, they didn’t bother. However, I asked Direct Energy why didn’t they stop the services since they weren’t paid. They said it was because of winter. The pipes might get damaged, and they can’t stop the flow during freezing times.”, says Lawrence.
How about summer, since it was one full year of uninterrupted service? DERS said they are the good guy and didn’t stop the services because of the pandemic. This doesn’t help Lawrence since they reactivated his account without his permission or notice. So they slapped him with the thousand dollar bill because “services were rendered.”
Needless to say, scammers all over the country could now operate on the same basis. If you rent your property, you will have to physically ask your tenant to send you their Direct Energy Bill bill every month! Why not just the first month? Here’s the ridiculousness of the situation: if they pay the first month and then “dissolve” their account, in 5 business days, DERS will revert the utilities and payments to the owner, which is you.
And you wouldn’t know a thing about it. If you are gone for 5 years, you may go to prison when you come back.
It would make sense for Direct Energy Regulated Services to waive Lawrence’s charges. We will keep you updated with the situation – we will have this article open for changes.
DERS has stated on its website that it is “committed to supplying Albertans with electricity at fair rates that are reviewed and approved every month by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) — without having to sign a contract. We make getting electricity easy.”
It seems like they are making it too easy and no matter how fair their rates are, they’re still super high when given without consent.
How To Report Scams
Let your Albertan friends know about this article. You can also officially any suspicious activity do it to the Federal Trade Commission using this link: Report To The FTC Here
How To Protect Yourself More
If you want to be the first to find out the most prevalent scams every week, please subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter here. You’ll receive periodic emails – no spam.
You could also educate yourself with some other fraud-related articles located under this paragraph, so that you know how to stay safe online – and not only. Feel free to use the Comments section below to expose other scammers.
Verify a website below
Are you just about to make a purchase online? See if the website is legit with our validator: