Door-to-door deception: Gas bill spikes after surprise switch
By Henry Erb February 6, 2020
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — They may have knocked on your door: salespeople wanting you to switch your traditional natural gas supplier. The problem is that it may be unclear what you’re being asked to sign.
Twenty alternative gas companies have been allowed to work in Michigan since the industry was deregulated in the early 2000s. At the time, gas prices were high and state lawmakers thought competition would bring down prices. There have been some issues.
Ruth Overly, 83, was working in her rural Muskegon County yard when a gas salesman came to call in 2018.
“He had a piece of paper on a clipboard and he wanted me to … sign this and I thought it was just an opinion paper in case something happened to DTE,” Overly recalled.
It turns out what she signed was a contract with an alternative company. She said she didn’t realize she had switched until her bill ballooned last winter and she called DTE.
“It’s the deception that we don’t like,” Marie Bosma said.
She’s a friend of Ruth Overly and had heard about her complaint, so she was ready when a couple of sales guys dropped by in November. She said they waved an unreadable ID tag and said they were from her supplier, DTE.
“I told him right away that I’m not signing anything,” she recalled.
Then he tried something else.
“As he turned to leave, he says, ‘You’re going to get a shutoff notice in two or three days,’” Bosma said.
That didn’t work either.
Bosna worries that “there’s other people that don’t know what’s going on and they might sign.”