If you’ve lived in Texas long enough, chances are you’ve run into an unpleasant experience at some point in dealing with a Retail Electricity Provider (REP). It’s not surprising with all of the tricky ads, teaser rates, and confusing terms. Energy Ogre understands how ogrevating it can be to determine which plan gives you the biggest bang for your buck.
Our member care representatives work daily with REPs on our members behalf. Because of this, our team is “in the know” about the potential red flags regarding electricity plans on the market.
Potential Red Flags
A retail electricity provider states if you move, you must transfer with the same retail electricity provider. This is not true. A contract is limited to service to a customer at a location specified in the contract. If the customer moves from the location, the customer is under no obligation to continue the contract at another location. The REP may require a customer to provide evidence that they are moving. There shall be no early termination fee assessed to the customer as a result of the customer’s relocation if the customer provides a forwarding address and, if required, reasonable evidence that the customer no longer occupies the location specified in the contract. See Chapter 25, Subchapter R, of the Public Utility Commission of Texas Administrative Rulebook for more information.
REP Retention Team Incentives
A retail electricity provider retention team member calls you and wants you back as a customer by offering incentives. Make sure to get any special offer in writing. This ensures the retention team member has the authority to offer these incentives and that the REP will honor the deal.
Beware of Hidden Fees
Payment surcharges, unexpected changes in fixed rates, and customer service fees all add up, making your monthly bill much higher than you anticipated. Ensure that your quoted rates include ALL wire charges so you are getting a full picture of the charges, not just the retail energy provider charge.
Fluctuating rates happen, especially if you don’t choose to go with a fixed rate. Many plans such as prepaid programs operate on variable rates, meaning you’ll pay more or less per kWh depending on factors like individual use and market trends. Understand the rate you’ve signed up for before locking in.
Block Rate Programs
Block rate programs are a schedule of prices for electricity wherein the price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) changes at different levels of consumption. For example, the first 500 kWh of use per month are charged at one rate and all use over 500 kWh is charged at a another rate. Buyer beware on these, as it can cause a lot of frustration as customers may end up paying more than what they expected.
Another potential pitfall to be wary of is the wording used in contract agreements. Make sure you clearly understand every detail of the provider’s contract before you commit to a plan. Everything from generation charges to peak hour penalties are included in the fine print, and you don’t want to miss it.
Early Termination Fees Traps
A customer can avoid an early termination fee if they switch no earlier than 14 days before their contract expiration date. This can get tricky as Texas REPs are required to notify you 30 days before your contract expires, leaving you a very tight window to shop for a new provider and switch before incurring that fee. Technically you can avoid the early termination fee, provided you get that notification and react to it in time. There are a couple of “gotcha’s” to be wary of when it comes to contract end dates and early termination fees.
- Confusing contract end dates
- Many electricity customers have a difficult time discerning when their contract actually expires. This bill is a perfect example.
- Early renewal notices
- According to The Public Utility Commission, the REP shall send a written notice of a contract expiration at least 30 days or one billing cycle prior to the date of contract expiration, but no more than 60 days or two billing cycles in advance of contract expiration for a residential customer. From our experience, some REPs send these renewal notices 60 and even 90 days in advance to rope you into renewing earlier than you really need to, thus eliminating the option of choosing another provider with a better price.
Energy Ogre ensures our members don’t fall into these potential traps. We are a technology company that uses analytics to actively monitor thousands of offers on the market to find a rate that fits the demand profile of our members, which includes anyone who lives in a deregulated Texas market. We stay on the lookout for better options, while actively maintaining your account with your retail energy provider. Because Energy Ogre is only paid by our members, our sole priority is you! And we’ve been known to “go to war” for our members, even as far as filing complaints with the PUC on our members behalf.
For a low monthly fee that’s far less than the money you save, you always know that you’re getting a fair deal at a fair price. And we back our service with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.