Hank Investigates: ‘Stealth Switch’ Third-Party Energy Providers

(WHDH) — The salespeople came to Ruben’s front door.

They called Ruben’s home, too. They all tried to convince him to change energy providers, promising if he did, his gas and electric bills would go down.

Hank: “Did you say yes?”
Ruben: “Never, never.”

The solicitations stopped but then Ruben noticed something weird on his utility bill. The bottom line.

Hank: “Were you paying less or more?”
Ruben: “I was paying way more.”

Down low on Ruben’s bill, it showed a new energy provider! But Ruben says no one in his family ever gave permission for the change.

Hank: “What did you think about that?”
Ruben: “Something was wrong.”

It looks like an abuse of power. Electric power and gas. Our investigation found since Massachusetts law changed to let you choose your energy provider, some companies are using deceptive tactics that could cost you big bucks.

Maura Healy, Massachusetts Attorney General: “We have seen a real pattern here of certain companies looking to prey upon consumers. They promise you savings in your energy bill but it turns out you don’t actually get those savings.”

Ruben estimates the unauthorized change cost him around $320 over five months.

And look at all these complaints we found: Massachusetts consumers angry they were “switched without authorization.”

We found if a company has your name and account number, they can simply call your current provider and switch you. So a person comes to your door and asks to see your gas or electric bill, don’t show it to them.

Healy: “Treat your energy bill like you treat your credit card, don’t give your energy bill out to anyone.”

And if you do get switched, you may not know it, your bills will still come from Eversource or National Grid, with the new energy provider just added at the bottom.

Hank: “So your bill might look exactly the same?”
Healy: “That’s part of the deception.”

One way to stop this: We found National Grid offers a “do not switch” option. Customers can call and put a “block” on their account. And after we called Eversource, they decided to add a do not switch option too.

To add your name to National Grid’s “Do Not Switch List” call: 800-322-3223.

Eversource says its “Do Not Switch” option will be available for customers in Western Massachusetts by early March, and for customers in Eastern Massachusetts by early May.

Here are the Eversource customer service phone numbers:

Eastern Mass: 1-800-592-2000
Western Mass: 1-877-659-6326

To file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office, go to: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/office-of-attorney-general-maura-healey

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