Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I don't like the cut of your jib

My gas company tried to pull a sneak attack on me last week by sending out some university student trying to make a buck to go house to house, telling everybody that natural gas would no longer be subsidized by the government (sort of true, but not really) and that we were all going to be paying much higher gas bills from now until eternity. Therefore, we had better sign up for a 5 year flat-rate contract with said gas company. Oh and by the way, you need to do that right now, right here on your front porch. Quick, there’s no time to think.

She seemed quite shocked when I explained for the third time that I was not signing anything without looking through it first, to leave the contract and supporting information with me and we would read through it and make a decision.

- But you have to sign up now and then you have 10 days to change your mind.
- Well, I won’t sign now, but leave it with me, I will read through it and if I agree, I will sign within 10 days.
- But that price is only guaranteed until Sunday.
- Fine, leave it here and I will decide before Sunday.

The energy company is going to be charging $8.99/GJ as the flat rate for the next 5 years. They included a lovely graph in the brochure, which showed gas prices over the past 5 years, with some fluctuations, but averaging out for the entire year at close to $11.00/GJ. And for the benefit of the mathematically challenged among us, they had drawn a bold line across the graph at the $8.99 level.

So I decided to check our old gas bills. Not even close.

The most we ever paid was $15.59/GJ last January, and according to my old gas bills, winter rates are traditionally $7.00 to $9.00/GJ, while summer rates are about $4.50/GJ.. I did not sign the contract.

And then I heard on the radio this morning, how over a dozen complaints have been lodged locally against the energy company for their misleading representation of historical gas prices.

Interestingly, the gas company, Direct Energy, is well known for its coercion tactics and misleading sales pitches. So I’m really glad I didn’t sign with the devil gas company.

Otherwise I would end up having to go all Office Depot on their ass. And that would have been a bun fight.

Take My Money And Run - Cuff the Duke


Todd said...

hehe, do many old sayings in this post that I just love. but anyways...

I remember one year wen I lived in Kingston, in a student house, someone coming by our house and proposing the same thing. Naturally we signed it, lol. BUT, in our own defense, we were students, renting a house. We were not planning to be in that house for very long. As it turned out, I think we were only there for a year more. So not much harm done really.

Good on you for standing up to the student!! I think I would have either signed or just slammed the door in her face. [well, maybe not slam] - I don't know that I would have thought to ask that she leave it all with me. Congrats to you!! :)

Besides, I don't think the company could handle you going Office Depot on their asses - I just think you would make them, or the student, cry. :P

John Mutford said...

I can't believe they can actually tell people that they have to sign up now and can change their minds later. Is that even legal?

New and Used Records said...

I'm glad that you caught them right away, however had you gone all Office Depot on them, that would have been thoroughly entertaining.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Way to go Consumer Gal!

Please explain to me your expression "bun fight." Yo've used it before but I have no idea what it means. Thanks.

Toccata said...

I'm sort of with new and used records. Good thing you kept them in their place but the office depot thing would have been amusing. I signed onto this whole blogging thing right around when you had that little drama going on!

Karen said...

You're far nicer than I would have been. After the first "Leave it with me and I'll let you know my decision", if she didn't back away from the front door, I would have thrown it back at her and said forget it then.

I think it may have been Direct Energy (or something similar) that came by last year or the year before claiming that they could lower my power bill. When I inquired how, the student (why always the students?) said I just had to show him my power bill and he'd explain. I told him "I don't think so", that's none of your business. He then left in a huff and moved onto my poor elderly, half naked, neighbour. I'm still wondering how they got in the building. And I'm sure, shockingly, that a number of people showed him their power bills (with their personal info on it) without questioning him. Probably not all that shocking seeing as how he had tried to make it sound he was with the "power company"...

justacoolcat said...

You crazy Canadians and your graphs; I'm proud you didn't let that college kid intimidate you.

JustRun said...

Daaayyyyuuuum! Guess you TOLD them!

Seriously, what a pile of crap. Glad the word is getting out.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Todd, I would have done exactly the same thing in your situation. If you're only renting for the short-term, who really cares? But I have gotten more suspicious in my old-age (and since it's now my house). Of course, the Jehovah's Witness defence works well too (ie get away from the windows, the Jehovahs are coming down the street!)

I think they are just this side of legal, John. They just miss out being guilty of reverse onus billing by the fact that one actually signs up for this. (But I wondered the same thing)

It would have been kinda fun to go all consumer advocate again, Will, in that righteous indignation is always a good time. But it is exhausting.

Good question, Dr M. According to thesaurus, a bun fight is "a grand formal party on an important occasion" but I perfer to picture it literally, more like a food fight, with people hucking buns at each other, because taking liberties with the language is what we are all about.

Oh yeah, it was right about then that we met, wasn't it, Toccata? Bet I impressed the hell out of you, hahaha. You guys sure helped me through that scenario.

Oh your poor old half-naked neighbour! I hope he didn't get roped into it, Karen.
You were right not to show your bill, Karen, as the story just keeps getting worse.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Just A, we are nothing without our graphs. It's pretty much the only way we know how to communicate. That, and hockey scores.

I feel sort of like a big shot right now, Justrun. Have to enjoy it before I get shot down. I think this story is not going away soon.

Allison said...

Ah, the Office Depot fiasco. That was a good rally call on the blogsphere. I'm glad you didn't have to go full force on these people. As Todd mentioned, they came round to my place in Kingston, I don't think we signed though.

Excellent choice withe Cuff the Duke! I haven't listened to them in so long, must change that.

BeckEye said...

I hate that horseshit. How dumb do these companies think everyone is? The old "unless you sign immediately without reading the fine print, you will lose out on this great deal" sales tactic is so fundamentally bad, I can't believe it works on anyone, or that these companies still try.

Dale said...

The rat bastards do that here too, the hard sell on the driveway. I just start singing and wait until they leave.

I remember your Depot story from when I was a secret reader of Bad Tempered Zombie.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

It's funny, Al, the Direct Energy story I've now been reading online starts in Kingston. I guess you guys really got the hard sell there, before enough people started complaining. Those bastards.

They just piss me off so badly, Beckeye that I want to make them spend a week with Paris Hilton.
Those bastards.

You were a secret reader, Dale? I don't know what astounds me more, that fact, or the image of you singing show tunes until the Direct Energy people leave your property. Both are lovely.
Those rat bastards.

668 aka neighbour of the beast said...

i got into a fight with the guy that came to my door and insisted that i had to go and get my bill and show him it right now. i nearly let my dog out to bite him in the ass. :)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Good for you, 668! Those bill-looking-at bastards deserve a bite or two in the ass.

Anonymous said...

She was at our door too Barbara, not sure if before or after your house! ;) Poor Girl LOL!

I also read her the riot act, told her I probably had the lowest gas prices of every house in this community and there is absolutely no way I would sign any contract.

She kept backing up as I talked,(never opened my door more than my head would fit out LOL) so I may have been a tad intimidating.
I told her I never do business at my door (while pointing to my "no soliciting" sign) and that if I am ever interested in any contract I will contact them.
Thank you/ good bye! Door shut and locked!

What a shitty job for that poor girl! She'd take less abuse behind the till at the Bay Southcentre! ;) hehehe


Barbara Bruederlin said...

It's amazing how she managed to keep a smile on her face, Blondie! I'd have quit long ago. Actually I would never have taken the job in the first place.

Good for you for standing your ground on no uncertain terms.

phlegmfatale said...

what a bunch of dickheads, trying to dupe the public into permanently paying higher prices. Good for you for being smarter than the average bear, even if it IS a burden. What bliss ignorance MUST be, to live in the best of all possible worlds!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I wonder how many people were actually taken in by that pitch, Phlegmmy?
You know what will probably happen now though? Gas prices will go to unprecidented highs this winter and we will huddle around a little bonfire in our kitchen to keep warm.