Electric customers file complaints about door-to-door salesmen

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) – Scott Galvin’s 17-year-old son was home when a door-to-door salesman showed up at the family’s home in Central Falls. Galvin said the salesman was trying to convince electric customers to switch to a competitive energy supplier.

“They came on very strong,” he said. “They made it sound like they were with National Grid. I guess [my son] was under the impression that he was here to shut off our electric, so he gave him the information.”

Call 12 for Action checked, and learned that Rhode Island’s Division of Public Utilities and Carriers has fielded similar consumer complaints.

“We’ve definitely received some complaints about door-to-door salespeople for these non-regulated power producers,” said Thomas Kogut of the Division of Public Utilities. “Customers have told us that they were either under the impression that the sales representative was somehow representing themselves as an employee of National Grid.”

“If you’re not comfortable with the transaction, that’s your space, you should just end the conversation,” Kogut said.

“We generally have been able to resolve that on a customer to customer basis,” Kogut added. “We also now have, as the Division of Public Utilities, the ability to issue civil fines. So if we found there was a rogue player where we had dozens of complaints surrounding a particular series of issues, we could basically call that company in and have a hearing.”

Competitive energy suppliers offer consumers the chance to shop for the best electric rate. In 2016, Rhode Island launched the Empower RI website, which allows business and residential customers to compare electricity prices and contract terms from competitive suppliers to National Grid’s standard offer rate.

The Division of Public Utilities is in the process of adopting new rules to govern competitive energy suppliers. A pending rule states consumers have the right to cancel any contract or agreement with a competitive energy supplier within three business days.