New rules in effect this week are intended to protect consumers when it comes to choosing a retail electric supplier.
The Illinois Commerce Commission said any such supplier, known as an RES, seeking to solicit customers in Illinois must abide by stringent new sales and marketing rules. The rules were changed and adopted by the ICC to ensure consumers have the tools they need to make an informed decision.
“The ICC is committed to protecting consumers in our competitive energy marketplace. Whether it is door-to-door or a phone solicitation, RES companies and their agents must now adhere to strict new guidelines to ensure potential customers understand that they are engaging in a sales transaction and have all the information they need to make a well-educated decision,” said ICC Executive Director Cholly Smith.
Some of the key rule changes include:
• RES agents must clearly use their own company name and not represent themselves as the utility or a government agency when approaching customers about their services. Identification badges must be visible to the consumer.
• Agents must provide shoppers with a single-page disclosure statement that clearly explains prices and fees for electric service, the length of contract, whether the rate is fixed or variable, the customer’s right to rescind/cancel, and any applicable termination fee. The document must also alert consumers that they are being solicited.
• Door-to-door agents must receive training, pass a criminal background check, and be adequately monitored. The company must take corrective action if necessary.
• Solicitation phone calls that last longer than two-minutes and every sales call that leads to an enrollment must be recorded and saved by the company. These recordings will help the ICC investigate consumer complaints.
• Information about the company must be available online; and customers must be notified about upcoming rate changes or if a contract is nearing expiration or renewal.
Consumers with questions or complaints following an encounter with an RES agent are urged to contact the ICC’s Consumer Services Division at 1 (800) 524-0795 or go to the ICC website.