A young man and woman presumably from an energy supplier knocked on my door today and spent like a half hour trying to switch my electric and gas supply to them. It didn’t end up happening.

They presented it as them coming by annually to adjust my rates to a lower cost. They quoted me some rates that were indeed lower than the numbers on my bill by a decent amount. However, they didn’t really present it as switching suppliers. This is important because I’m part of the city’s aggregate supplier setup. I didn’t opt out of that, so there is a fee if I exit it before the end of whatever period. It could still end up being cheaper over time, but that would require calculation, and I don’t know how long their quoted rates would last. I’m skeptical when such things are presented to me in a “fast talking” kind of way.

A similar thing happened a year or two ago. A guy came by with the same tactics. He got me to sign a thing on his phone. I then received a call, presumably from their company, and he had me lie to say that he had already left and that he had showed me some terms and other information. They then authorized switching the supplier. After he left, I became increasingly worried that I had been scammed or something. After looking into the aggregate thing and seeing info on the fee, I did something to cancel. I got a bill for the fees for both gas and electric, but didn’t pay since I cancelled, and they never followed up.

That phone call is what stopped the procedure this time. I had only vaguely remembered the past event at first. We went through the setup procedure, I signed on the phone, and they submitted to have the phone call. When I received it, I answered honestly the question of whether the people had left the premises: “No”. It then said it couldn’t proceed and ended the call. I was inside this time while they were out, so they were less able to hear. When I told them the call ended with saying it couldn’t proceed, they thought perhaps the automated system couldn’t understand me, and wanted to try again with a real person on the phone call. The lady had to reenter all my information. The guy said that I just need to say “Yes” to all the questions, that it was just to verify the rate reduction. A neighbor got home right then though, so he left to talk to them. The lady submitted the thing again, and I went inside to wait for the phone call. When it came, I left the door fully closed this time. I hit zero a bunch of times until the real person came on. I once again answered honestly. When I said no, she said something about not being able to continue, and verified my no answer. She then ended the call. When I told the porch lady and said that the phone lady didn’t really say why she couldn’t proceed, the lady said something like “Sorry to have wasted your time. I hope I didn’t offend you.” as if she had. She hadn’t though, and I replied again, “no”. She left.

Throughout the experience, it was pretty cold outside. I could see the lady was cold, especially working her phone. I was cold in my doorway just dressed for being in my house. Just holding the storm door ajar a few inches, I could feel the heat getting sucked out and the cold blowing on me. The guy could tell I was troubled by this and apologized. By the time they left, I was feeling quite chilled, especially my feet. I jogged in place a few seconds to get my blood flowing, then heated up a bottle of water and put my feet on it, covered myself with a blanket, and went back to work.

Yes, I had “clocked out” from work for this. It was like a half hour “break”. Luckily I didn’t have anything pressing going on and I don’t think anyone else had needed me in that time.

I need to be more assertive and aware I suppose. They never really presented this to me as an option, more like this is just what’s happening. They seemed to present themselves as “the utility company”. They never really asked me if I wanted their service or gave much information other than that it was changing the rates and keeping the same distributors (Dominion and First Energy, different than the suppliers). It’s hard for a shy person like myself to say no when there’s no presented question.

There has to be a better way to do something like this. Like a mailer that presents the details so I can actually look over everything and decide. Or even better, something on the utility company (distributor) web account section that presents the supplier options with links to details on each and lets me choose. If the one supplier is indeed cheaper, it would show it.