Summitt Energy Scam

By Stephanie Bailey
February 10, 2011
Direct Energy, Summitt Energy and Universal Energy
Direct Energy, Summitt Energy and Universal Energy -
It's something you may have already come across before and if you haven't, a family member or neighbour probably has. They're Energy resellers who often canvass neighbourhoods in search of unsuspecting home owners or renters with promises -- or outright lies -- of better deals on the cost of energy, be it Hydro or Gas.

After being scripted into signing up, many find out too late that they've been deceived into signing a contract completely unlike anything the deceptive door-to-door salespeople promise.

Summitt Energy is the name of a company we have recently received startling documents regarding. What we've reviewed were forged signatures and recordings of deceptive sales calls.

Deceptive tactics often start at the front door, where salespeople sometimes looking much like municipal hydro workers show up, even producing ID cards resembling something official. The followup telephone calls may be described as nothing less than confusing and manipulative.

Summitt and others such as Direct Energy hire so-called independent sales agents to use tried and tested sales tactics, usually rather deceptive, to get your municipal energy account number and trick you into signing a contract.

According to a telephone recording we've acquired, telephone sales agents of Summitt Energy used confusing language in telephone conversations to get you to say one thing: "Yes". "Yes" to lower energy rates and "Yes" to a long-term contract with a company you know nothing about.

The problem and deception here is the energy rates for hydro are never lower than the sales agents claim local utilities charge and after signing up, you may end up with a bill at the end of the month 5 times higher than one would expect.

One Toronto resident who knew nothing about being switched over to Summitt Energy was appaled to receive a bill with charges of over $900 for two months of service in a 1200 square foot duplex apartment. This scam involved a forged signature on a never-before-seen contract shortly after displaying a Toronto Hydro bill to a Summitt Energy salesperson, posing as an official from Toronto Hydro at his front doorstep.

Some victims claim they've been offered a protection plan on their energy prices and though it seems nothing like switching energy providers, it's just that. With electricity, consumers are always locked in to pay more for 5 years. With gas, it's a gamble that the resellers usually win.

The CBC and other media outlets have ripped these companies and their practices wide open, yet they still continue to go door-to-door preying on ill-advised or elderly consumers.

Summitt Energy was recently found liable by the Ontario Energy Board of using deceptive practices and ordered to cancel 17 contracts without charge or penalty. They are also now required to use plain language in contracts.

In reply to the ruling, Summitt's president and CEO Gerry Haggarty stated "Summitt remains highly committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure our customers receive full disclosure relating to our products and customers understand both the value of our products and the terms of the agreement to best determine if our products are suitable for their needs," though their unethical and deceptive business practices continue until now.

Energy Boards across the country do regulate the marketing and practices of energy resellers like Summitt and forgery and deception are both illegal and contrary to these regulations. Customers have every right to invalidate their contract if the salesperson was in any way deceptive and certainly where no contract was actually signed.

Update: 3 days after posting this article, Summitt actually came on posting under the moniker of "Energy123" with some more tall tales on the status of energy prices. Refer to the 8th and 10th comments on this page.


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Comments (27)
Retired_Can_Soldier's Avatar
Retired_Can_Soldier    Feb 11th, 2011
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+1
Excellent article, I booted one of these bums off my porch the other day.
TenPenny's Avatar
TenPenny    Feb 11th, 2011
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+1
Stop and think about this. 'Reseller' means markup from wholesale. Why does anyone think they'll get a better deal from a reseller?

I get phone calls all the time from resellers; the latest has been from someone calling on behalf of my cellular plan provider. When they ask what plan I'm on, I reply, 'If you really were calling from xxxx, you'd know that already. Goodbye'.

Good bye is the best response to anybody calling you out of the blue to offer you 'a deal'.
Sparrow's Avatar
Sparrow    Feb 11th, 2011
A good rule of thumb is "If it sounds too good to be true it usually is".
taxslave's Avatar
taxslave    Feb 11th, 2011
IS this an Ontario thing? To the best of my knowledge there is nothing similar in B.C. for gas or electric legit or otherwise.
Andem's Avatar
Andem    Feb 12th, 2011
Taxslave, this isn't just an Ontario thing. Apparently Summit Energy operates out of BC, Ontario and Quebec.
gerryh's Avatar
gerryh    Feb 12th, 2011
Direct energy does the same thing and they work from Ontario to Alberta at least.
taxslave's Avatar
taxslave    Feb 12th, 2011
Quote: Originally Posted by taxslave --

IS this an Ontario thing? To the best of my knowledge there is nothing similar in B.C. for gas or electric legit or otherwise.

Guess we live too far from the main market areas to interest them. It would be funny if one of them came around offering a deal on gas since the line ends about 8k from our house. I would be interested in a good deal on firewood though. Less than the cost of a gallon of saw gas and a case of beer is good.
Energy123's Avatar
Energy123    Feb 14th, 2011
If anyone is reading anything about the future face of Ontario's electricity prices, I would expect to see some of these articles change their tune. Everyone wants to cancel an electricity or natural gas contract when prices are high, but when they save money on these contracts people don't seem to want to share the news. Dalton McGuinty is announcing a 46% increase in electricity prices over the next 5 years - and the only way to avoid the hike is to sign up with an energy retailer. The reason why you pay a higher price when you sign is becasue you are buying price cerrtainty - just like locking into a mortgage term to avoid rising interest rates. Recent changes to the market rules now allow customers greater freedoms to cancel their agreements and lower penalties to do so if they choose - but no one is going to when they see the toll that an 8% increase (and that's only the increase they're telling you about) per year, year over year for the next 5 years is going to do to homeowners. It's time to stop villifying the people at your door and listen to what they have to say. Recently all Ontarians have recieved a pamphlet from the provincial government entitled 'Electricity prices are Changing' just flip to the inside panel to see what they are actually saying - the first line reads "Like in a lot of places around the world, electricity prices in Ontario are going up". I particularly enjoy their attempt to couch this in a sense of it's happening everywhere, not just here... read the pamphlet, get informed, and listen to what people are saying.
gerryh's Avatar
gerryh    Feb 14th, 2011
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+2
Quote: Originally Posted by Energy123 --

If anyone is reading anything about the future face of Ontario's electricity prices, I would expect to see some of these articles change their tune. Everyone wants to cancel an electricity or natural gas contract when prices are high, but when they save money on these contracts people don't seem to want to share the news. Dalton McGuinty is announcing a 46% increase in electricity prices over the next 5 years - and the only way to avoid the hike is to sign up with an energy retailer. The reason why you pay a higher price when you sign is becasue you are buying price cerrtainty - just like locking into a mortgage term to avoid rising interest rates. Recent changes to the market rules now allow customers greater freedoms to cancel their agreements and lower penalties to do so if they choose - but no one is going to when they see the toll that an 8% increase (and that's only the increase they're telling you about) per year, year over year for the next 5 years is going to do to homeowners. It's time to stop villifying the people at your door and listen to what they have to say. Recently all Ontarians have recieved a pamphlet from the provincial government entitled 'Electricity prices are Changing' just flip to the inside panel to see what they are actually saying - the first line reads "Like in a lot of places around the world, electricity prices in Ontario are going up". I particularly enjoy their attempt to couch this in a sense of it's happening everywhere, not just...

Quote has been trimmed, See full post: --

So, which reseller are you prostituting yourself for?
Andem's Avatar
Andem    Feb 14th, 2011
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+3
Quote: Originally Posted by gerryh --

So, which reseller are you prostituting yourself for?

Good question. Here's your answer:

network:Organization;I:1229.mtsallstream.com
network:Admin-Contact;I:1253.mtsallstream.com
network:Admin-Contact-Name:KAREEM, SAMEER
network:Admin-Contact-Phone:416-817-2647
network:Admin-Contact-Email: --

So the post came from Summitt's head office.