| Dec 06, 2007

Legalese - December 6, 2007

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Legalese - December 6, 2007 Energy Contracts-Door-to-Door Tip Sheet Legalese is a column of general information and opinion on legal topics by the lawyers of Rural Legal Services, Box 359, Sharbot Lake, ON, K0H2P0, 613-279-3252, or 1-888-777-8916. This column is not intended to provide legal advice. You should contact a lawyer to determine your legal rights and obligations.

[This article was published by the Community Advocacy and Legal Centre in Belleville in the November edition of its newsletter Bafflegab. It is reprinted with permission.]

With the partial deregulation of the energy market in Ontario, local residents must be cautious when choosing electricity and gas providers. Here are some tips to remember:

RienaPrivate energy companies go door-to-door to get residents to sign contracts for their services.In some cases, it actually costs a lot more money to lock into a contract.It can be difficult and very expensive to get out of a contract, so you should be sure that it is something you want.Before agreeing to any contract, read the information in the contract carefully so that you know what you are agreeing to. Take a few days to think about it before you sign any contract.The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) also has rules about energy contracts to protect consumers. Any energy seller who comes to your door should provide you with their name and their company's name and contact information.Do not show your heat or hydro bill to people who come to your door. Ask everyone for identification even if they say that they are from your utility company.If you sign an energy contract as a result of door-to-door sales or telemarketing, the company must contact you 10 to 60 days after you sign the contract to confirm that you want the contract. At this point, you can cancel a contract without having to pay any fees.If you sign a contract through the Internet because of a direct-mail campaign or because you contacted the company yourself, you only have 10 days to cancel a contract without penalty. If your contract is coming to an end, you must take steps to cancel it or it could be automatically renewed.If you cancel the contract, keep proof that you have done so.

If you have a complaint about an energy company, you should make your complaint to that company. You should contact the OEB if:

The complaint is not resolved,You have been signed up for a contract without your permission,You are pressured by a salesperson, orYou were not provided information about what you were getting into.

Contact the OEB, toll-free, at 1-877-632-2727 or online at: www.oeb.gov.on.ca/html/en/consumers/complaint/index.htm

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