How to avoid cramming and slamming from energy suppliers

Have you ever been the target of a phishing attack online? An example of a phishing attack is when you have received a spam e-mail from someone imitating a trusted entity (like an online shop or your bank) sends an e-mail stating you have charges pending. However, you know for sure that you do not owe any money because 1) you did not actually purchase the products you were said to have purchased and 2) you have never shopped from or never had a bank account with these supposed entities in the first place. Why pay for a service that you neither agreed to have nor knew you had at all?

The same thing can happen to customers of business energy. Energy suppliers may try to charge you for a service you never agreed to receive or they may try to give you their energy services without you authorizing them to do so. These practices are known as “cramming” and “slamming.” 

Cramming and slamming are similar to phishing, with the caveat in this analogy being that the phishing attacker is an unknown criminal, whereas the “attacker” conducting a cram or a slam is a retail energy provider (REP).

Thankfully, there are easy ways to avoid being crammed or slammed by an energy supplier. In this article, we look at what to do if you have been subjected to these practices. We then offer tips on how to avoid being victim of these tactics in the future and how Northern Gas and Power Americas can help you. 

What is cramming?

If slamming in the business energy world is akin to phishing in the Internet world, then cramming is akin to unauthorized credit card charges. 

Cramming is the unauthorized charge on your electric bill. This occurs when energy suppliers sneak in, or cram in, charges for services you did not agree to receive. It is the obligation of the energy supplier to tell you clearly of the services they will provide you and how much they will cost. Additionally, before any bill is sent to you, the supplier must have your consent for the services. 

And what is slamming?

Slamming is when energy suppliers sign customers up for their services without customers even knowing about or agreeing to the services. Customers are only made aware of being slammed after they receive energy bills from a new, unacquainted supplier.

What can you do to get out of these jams?

The good thing to know is that cramming is an altogether illegal practice, and slamming is a frowned-upon practice from which ERCOT protects Texas consumers. There are ways to avoid these practices.

To tip customers off that they may have been slammed by a new supplier, ERCOT notifies customers by post that their energy supplier will change, and thus they should expect to receive an energy bill from said new supplier.  

REPs must inform you of all their services and their charges. You are not obligated to pay for “crammed in” charges if they are found in your energy bills. 

If you have been crammed or slammed, the first thing you should do is contact the energy supplier in question. They are obligated to provide to your proof that you either consented for them to switch your energy services or gave clear written approval for them to issue the unauthorized charges. If the company cannot provide you with proof of your consent, you can file a complaint with the consumer protection division of your public utility commission. 

For any of our Texas clients, submitting a complaint can be done here.

It is advisable to pay any undisputed charges on time while you contest the disputed ones. Your electricity will not be shut off if you do not pay for disputed charges. 

How can you avoid this in the future (with NGPA)?

There are ways to avoid being slammed or crammed in the future, and with each of the following ways, Northern Gas and Power Americas can help you avoid them with full confidence. 

Vet the REPs

As with any major purchase or cooperation, you want to make sure that the selling or cooperating party is reputable. In Texas, companies seeking to sell electric energy to retail customers must be certified as a retail energy provider. This certification entails a number of requirements and obligations set out by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

We have close relationships with many REPs in the state. We can advise you to choose the best supplier for your business energy requirements. 

Know what the supplier is offering to you

It is important for you to understand all the services that your prospective energy supplier is pledging to offer your business. This is especially important when considering the price per kWh and the standing charges. Do not be fooled by tantalizing low prices – they may be too good to be true!

Northern Gas and Power Americas has the experience and industry knowledge to know when a supplier’s offer of services and rates is sound. We can help you assess a supplier’s offer with expert discretion. 

Know the energy agreement from cover to cover

The first thing to do is read your energy agreement like it is your favorite novel. Read it with scrutiny; read every word. 

Does this not sound appealing to you? That is no worry, because knowing energy contracts like the back of our hands is our duty. We can help you secure an energy contract that is ideal for your business needs, and as part of that service, we go through the entire energy agreement with you from cover to cover. We make sure that you are aware of all the services and charges that are included in the agreement. No small detail will be omitted during our cooperation with you. It is our job to make sure you are completely satisfied with the stipulations of the agreement. 

Find your next business energy contract through Northern Gas and Power Americas

The fruits of a deregulated energy market are that you have a choice in your business energy supply. Shopping for the best contract in a competitive market can be time consuming and even overwhelming for you as a business owner. 

Northern Gas and Power Americas shoulders the work required to find the best energy deal for your business. Get in touch with us today and we will help you land a cost-saving energy contract. 

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