This is a story I should have told a long time ago. I’m telling it now because just a week ago someone was complaining about getting scammed by an energy company, and it reminded me of my horrible adventure that eventually worked out well many years ago.

water energy

One day I was trying to get out of the house because I had a meeting when I got one of those calls that my Spidey senses told me not to take, but I took it anyway. It turned out to be one of those nameless energy companies calling; ugh.

These days I don’t pick up the phone if I don’t know who’s calling, but I haven’t always been that good at it. This time around, even though I told the guy I had to go, he said he’d be calling me the next day and the day after that and all he needed was two minutes of my time.

Of course, 10 minutes later I was just getting off the phone with him after agreeing to switch my energy services over to his company. No need to name the company because in my mind they’re all the same, and I don’t remember the name at this point.

When I got back home I had buyer’s remorse. I also hadn’t written down any of the information he gave me because I’d been in a hurry to get out of the house; that was dumb of course. I figured that I would call National Grid, at some point over the next few days to talk to them about my decision.

Days later I got a letter from National Grid; actually, I got two letters, but both said the same thing. It reminded me of what I had wanted to do. So, Monday morning that was the first call I made.

I asked the lady on the other end about this particular company I’d signed up with. She said she wasn’t allowed to tell me anything about these companies unless I had certain types of information. I asked her what information that was, and she told me I needed to know how much I was paying for kilowatt hours, which concerns electricity, and per therm, which is for gas.

I asked her what I was paying them now and she went to look it up. Then she told me that my account wasn’t actually with National Grid, but with some other company that, supposedly, I’d been with since 2011; what the hey? I didn’t remember ever doing that, but since my name is on the bill it had to be me, and I must have thought I was getting some kind of deal.

After that little bit of shock I asked her what they were charging me. She said they were charging me 11 1/2 cents per kilowatt hour and $1.50 per therm.

Then I asked her what National Grid was charging and she said… 4 cents per kilowatt hour and 95 cents per therm!

What?!?!? :-O I was allowing a third party company to charge me 3 times the amount for electricity, which is the biggest part of my utility bill, and higher than 33% more for gas? What was I, stupid?

I told her I wanted to change right then and there back to National Grid, and that I wanted to cancel the new company. As she was doing that I asked her how these outside companies could get away with charging higher rates. She said that National Grid had to be the conduit for all services in our area but that other companies can offer “deals” at whatever rates they see fit.

She added that in some cases they might offer a short term deal to get people to switch but they were under no obligation to keep it there, and that most people don’t pay attention to the rates anyway. She also said a possible warning sign is when they tell you they can save you anywhere from 10 to 20% on your bills without defining what the actual rates are; how would you know unless you ask the question?

That’s a major lesson! Living in the northeast, you can imagine what our utility bills are like in the winter. Just knowing that I could have saved nearly 75% on my winter bills total… I wanted to slap myself silly! At the time my monthly winter bills were around $500 a month; after I changed, my bills dropped down to $270 (I’ve lowered them more since then; that’s my next article).

It’s another lesson learned that I get to pass along to you. No matter where you live, you probably have more than one provider for whatever type of utilities you have. Learn to ask the questions I mentioned above depending on what you have and make your choices accordingly.