6 Common Complaints

No company is perfect, and no energy company will ever operate without any complaints.

However, if you take a look at some of the most common recorded complaints among Texas electricity customers, you can take action and learn how to be prepared for common customer issues.  Knowing what to expect and how to potentially avoid some of these pitfalls can help you make smarter decisions about the energy company you hire, be prepared for common issues many customers have and to be more positive, in general, towards your retail energy supplier.

Unknown Fees

Energy companies often charge fees for a number of reasons. Perhaps they are charging a late fee for missing a payment, or a fee for canceling your service early. Many times, there is nothing you can do about the fees once they show up, but there are ways to make sure you are aware of any potential fees that may creep up during your time of service.

Before you sign your new energy provider contract, there will be a document known as the EFL. This ?facts label? will provide detailed information on all of the fees and charges that individual supplier can, or may, charge. Make sure you are clear on these fees and ask questions before you sign on the dotted line.

Poor Customer Service

This is a complaint in virtually every industry and one that is hard to avoid. Many times, the best approach is to really do your research of different energy providers. You can use an online tool to compare rates, but before you lock in a plan, make sure to do some outside research and see what other customers are saying about that company.

Just because a provider has the cheapest plan, it doesn?t mean they are going to provide the right service. Most customer service complaints are actually related to billing, or simply issues with getting a hold of the supplier. The Texas Coalition for Affordable Power recommends that all customers read past consumer reviews on a company before signing up for service.

If there is a continued issue with a retail energy provider, Texas customers can actually file a complain with the PCU with the agency?s Office of Customer Protection, but this is only if you feel as though the company is failing to follow the law.

Meter Reading

There are times when energy customers may feel as though their meter was read wrong. This is a common issue across the country, but there is a quick fix to these problems.

If you think your meter was read incorrectly, go find your electric meter on the outside of your home and check, even take a picture. If you call your company and let them know the problem, typically they can check your meter again and check your bill to see the discrepancy. Most energy companies will immediately refund you the difference right over the phone, but having an image is always a smart idea, in case the problem isn?t resolved quickly.

Slamming and Cramming

The PCU has really tried to crack down on slamming and cramming, but there are still some Texas consumers who have issues with this problem. Both slamming and cramming are illegal and if you see one of these things happening, you need to report them to the PCU immediately.

Cramming is the illegal act of placing misleading charges on your bill that you did not agree to. Slamming is the process of switching your energy service to another provider without your permission. Be on the lookout for these issues and be ready to report them if you feel as though they impacted your service.

Switch Hold Rules

?Switch hold? rules have been a controversial topic in Texas for years, and problems related to these rules are typically some of the most common complaints among consumers. These rules apply only to Texans in deregulated markets and they basically block customers who owe back payments to one retail energy provider from switching to another provider.

While it can be a frustrating rule for some consumers, it is a set law. If you pay the back bill in full, you will be allowed to switch once all debts are paid.

Fluctuating Prices

One of the top reported issues that consumers tend to have with their energy company is on fluctuating prices. This is typically a very common issue to avoid. As many consumers know, when you sign up for a new energy plan you will typically be given the option between ?fixed? or ?variable? rate energy plans.

Many customers sign up for variable rate plans, because they are able to lock in low prices, or because they do not come with as stringent of contracts. However, variable rate plans can change at any moment, in fact they can change any day. Just as gas prices and the stock market fluctuate, so does the energy market.

Customers tend to complain when their energy prices go up drastically with the market, but this is a risk that customers take when they sign up for a variable rate plan. If you like to diligently plan how much of your budget will go to energy costs, then choosing a fixed rate plan is a better option. There isn?t as much risk involved, and you will always know how much per kWh you will be spending each month.

One of the best things that you can do is to try to avoid some of these common energy complaints, but there may be times when you are faced with issues that could not have been prevented. In these situations, it is important that you speak with your energy provider directly to see if they can help remedy the issue for you. According to a study from the Public Utility Commission, in 2013, Texas are customers who filed complaints received nearly $550,000 in refunds. Just because you have an issue it doesn?t mean it will not get resolved.

In Texas, having a choice regarding your energy company can be a powerful thing. If you know about the most common issues that other customers in the state have, you can make a smarter choice regarding your upcoming energy plan. There will undoubtedly be issues in the future with your Texas energy provider, but being well-informed on these complaints can help you make smarter, more informed decisions regarding your home or commercial energy plan.