Contact: Marty Berkowitz
COLUMBUS, Ohio – March 6, 2009 – The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC), the residential utility advocate, advises consumers enrolled in Gas Choice programs with a supplier to become familiar with and understand all of the contract language before accepting an offer.
During a time of increased competition and falling natural gas prices, it is up to you, the customer, to understand the fine print in any agreement that you enter into. If you are unsure of anything in the language of an agreement, be sure to ask questions or refer to the marketer’s website. Most sites include “frequently asked questions” documents to address commonly occurring situations. If your questions are not answered, you should contact a customer representative. Be sure that you have a complete understanding of the agreement before enrolling with a marketer.
You should verify the following before completing your enrollment:
Whether your agreement will be automatically renewed upon completion;
Whether automatic renewal would subject you to a higher rate;
That you understand whether you are accepting a fixed or variable rate and what those two terms mean;
Whether any additional fees, such as for enrollment, transfer or cancellation, may be charged; and
That the supplier is a certified participant in Ohio’s choice programs.
After you have received your first bill, check the numbers against your signed copy of the contract to make sure the charges assessed reflect your understanding of what you agreed to. You need to be aware that in most cases, if you decide to switch to a different supplier offering a lower rate, it generally takes 45 to 60 days for the new rate to go into effect.
Be sure to read and save any materials you receive from the supplier as they may include notices of changes to the original offer, rate or length of the service agreement.
The OCC offers an up-to-date chart listing all independent suppliers in Ohio, their rate offers, whether the rates are fixed or variable, and the contract length. You may find this document, titled “Comparing Your Energy Choices” on the OCC website at www.pickocc.org . You may also contact the OCC toll free at 1-877- 742-5622 or 1-877 -PICKOCC for any questions you may have about Gas Choice.
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