Re-billers and the Energy Consumer Protection Act 2010
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Re-billers and the Energy Consumer Protection Act 2010

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This webinar is presented by Margaret Capes, Legal Education Coordinator of Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc. It revisits an area of concern for consumers: energy re-billing. With the passage ...

This webinar is presented by Margaret Capes, Legal Education Coordinator of Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc. It revisits an area of concern for consumers: energy re-billing. With the passage of the Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2010 (ECPA), consumers have enhanced protections with regard to energy re-billers, their marketing practices, and re-billing contracts entered into after January 1, 2011. The webinar presents information to help consumers recognize the need for caution if contacted by an energy re-biller, and to be better informed about their rights if they find themselves trapped in an unfavourable re-billing contract.

To view and listen to this webinar, use the embedded player below.
http://yourlegalrights.on.ca/webinar/Re-billers-and-the-Energy-Consumer-Protection-Act-2010

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Re-billers and the Energy Consumer Protection Act 2010 Re-billers and the Energy Consumer Protection Act 2010 Presentation Transcript

  • This webinar is brought to you by Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc. , a nonprofit, registered charitable organization devoted to public legal education and community advocacy training. This webinar is facilitated by CLEONet , a website of legal information for community workers and advocates who work with low income and disadvantaged communities in Ontario. Funding for this webinar was provided by the Law Foundation of Ontario as part of The Connecting Project and the Connecting Communities Consortium. www.communitylawschool.org www.cleonet.ca www.lawfoundation.on.ca Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
  • Hot Topics in Consumer Protection: Energy Consumer Protection Act , 2010
  • 2010, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc. Please note … The content of this webinar is based on law that was current on the date the webinar was recorded. CLEONet webinars contain general legal information. They are not intended to be used as legal advice for a specific legal problem. For more information on how to find a lawyer or to contact your local community legal clinic visit www.cleonet.ca/need_legal_help
  • About our presenter… Margaret Capes, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B., M.Ad.Ed, is Legal Education Coordinator of Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.  She also acts as Review Counsel for Community Legal Services, as an adjunct professor in the clinical law program, and as faculty advisor for Pro Bono Students Canada and the Dispute Resolution Centre, all at the Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario. She is the former Executive Director of Community Legal Assistance Sarnia.
  • Webinar Overview
    • What is the Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2010 (ECPA)?
    • Typical Encounter with an Energy Re-biller
    • Regulating Re-billers Under the ECPA
    • Unfair Marketing Practices
    • Required Documentation
    • Contract Requirements
    • Verification of the Contract
    • Cancellation Rights
    • Enforcing Consumer Rights
    • Questions
    2011, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
  • What is the ECPA?
    • Enacted in response to the explosion of egregious practices engaged in by energy re-billers
    • Provides consumers with enhanced protections regarding energy re-billing sales practices and contracts
    • Applies to contracts entered into after January 1, 2011
    • Administered by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB)
    • For contracts entered into prior to January 1, 2011, consumers have the more limited protections found in the Ontario Energy Board Act (discussed in an earlier webinar)
    2011, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
  • A Typical Encounter With a Re-biller
    • A knock on the door
    • The confusing clipboard
    • Your gas or hydro invoice
    • Gaining entry into your home
    • Are you on “the right plan”?
    • Price scare tactics
    • Sign here for a “free trial”
    2011, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
  • Regulating Re-billers Under the ECPA
    • The ECPA establishes a new framework for sales practices and contracts by:
      • Defining energy re-billers’ unfair practices;
      • Identifying the documents that must be provided to consumers;
      • Outlining re-billing contract requirements;
      • Regulating the contract verification process; and
      • Setting forth cancellation procedures.
    • We will look at each of these items in turn.
    2011, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
  • Unfair Marketing Practices under the ECPA are False, Misleading or Deceptive Statements About:
    • Contract Terms;
    • Benefits to the consumer;
    • Differences in price between retailers;
    • The amount of money to be saved by switching retailers; and/or
    • The consequences of not entering into or verifying a re-billing contract.
    2011, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
  • Required Documentation
    • When a re-biller salesperson comes to the door, the OEB’s revised Electricity and Gas Marketer Codes of Conduct require them to:
      • Provide the consumer with a business card containing specific information (names, addresses, telephones, websites, license number);
      • Wear a photo identification badge on the front of his/her outer clothing that contains specific personal and company information;
      • At the consumer’s request, provide the consumer with a copy of any documents discussed; and
      • Provide the consumer with a copy of the written contract at the time the contract is entered into.
    2011, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
  • Contract Requirements
      • The ECPA establishes strict contract requirements, including:
      • The contract can only be with the person whose name is already on the account (or an authorized agent, including a spouse) with their regular energy provider;
      • The contract must contain specific information, and be accompanied by a Disclosure Statement and price comparison;
      • The contract and Disclosure Statement must be signed by the consumer (or authorized agent), who must receive a text-based copy of the contract and acknowledge receipt of it;
      • The contract must include certain, specified information in a clear and legible manner and a font size of not less than 12, including:
        • Name and contact information about the re-biller, the salesperson, and the consumer;
        • The contract price and payment terms; and
        • Cancellation, assignment, extension, and refund rights.
    2011, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
  • Verification of the Contract
    • In almost all cases, the ECPA requires that a re-billing contract must be verified in order to bind the consumer:
    • No earlier than 10 days or later than 45 days after the consumer has received the written contract, the re-biller must contact the consumer and ask her/him to verify the contract;
    • The re-biller may verify the contract by telephone with the account holder (or authorized agent) only, and must record the call;
    • If the consumer does not verify the contract by the 46th day after receiving the written copy, the contract will no longer be in effect as of that day;
    • The consumer is not required to verify the contract, and if he or she refuses to do so, the contract will become invalid and no cancellation fees or penalties may be charged;
    • The consumer may recover money paid to the re-biller under the contract up to the point that the contract ceased to have effect because it was not verified. A refund must be issued within 60 days; and
    • The consumer has a right to a copy of the recording of the telephone conversation, and the contract may be cancelled if the re-biller fails to provide the recording within 10 days of the request.
    2011, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
  • Cancellation Rights
    • The ECPA allows a consumer to cancel a re-billing contract:
    • Within 10 days after acknowledging receipt of the contract (the “cooling-off” period). The consumer cannot be charged a cancellation fee and his or her service will continue without interruption;
    • In electricity cases, up to 30 days after receiving the first bill under the contract. The consumer must pay the bill but cannot be charged a cancellation fee, and must be switched back to their original utility without any interruption in service;
    • If the contract doesn’t meet the requirements specified under the ECPA;
    • If the re-biller engages in any unfair practice;
    • If the re-biller fails to provide a copy of a voice recording of a telephone discussion within 10 days after the consumer requests it;
    • If the consumer permanently moves from the premises to which gas or electricity is provided under the contract; and
    • At any time without cause. However, if the consumer has verified the contract and cancels it 30 or more days after receiving the first electricity bill under the contract, he or she may have to pay a cancellation fee.
    2011, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
  • Enforcing Consumer Rights
    • A consumer who has signed an agreement with a re-biller but wishes to terminate the contract has several options:
      • The consumer can refuse to verify the contract when contacted by the re-biller.
      • The consumer may take advantage of the various cancellation rights under the ECPA as outlined above.
      • The consumer can file a complaint with the Ontario Energy Board.
        • The Board can review the case and determine whether the re-biller has followed all of the proper steps under the law.
        • If not, the Board can mediate an agreement between the parties to settle the case.
      • The consumer can sue civilly in Superior or Small Claims Court and request an Order that the contract was entered into using misrepresentations and false information.
        • If successful, the consumer may request monetary damages (in Small Claims Court), or monetary damages and a termination of the contract (in Superior Court).
    2011, Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.
  • This webinar was brought to you by Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc. and CLEONet with funding from the Law Foundation of Ontario. For more information about consumer issues visit the Consumer Law section of CLEONet at www.cleonet.ca . For more public legal information webinars, including webinars on other consumer protection topics, visit: http://www.cleonet.ca/training . For information about other consumer issues, social welfare laws, and community advocacy training visit the Community Law School website at www.communitylawchool.org . Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc.