LETTER: Fortis replies to gas marketer letter
This is a response to one of your readers expressing concerns regarding the Customer Choice program and the role of gas marketers.
Since the launch of the Customer Choice program, British Columbians have been able to choose who supplies their natural gas. They can choose FortisBC’s variable rate or sign a fixed-term, fixed-rate contract with a gas marketer, who are neither associated with FortisBC or the BC government. As your reader pointed out, the choice is similar to a homeowner locking into a mortgage at a fixed interest rate rather than a variable rate.
Independent gas marketers often employ commissioned sales people to sell these contracts door-to-door. FortisBC does not employ commissioned sales people to sell contracts door-to-door.
The Customer Choice program has several ways it protects customers. This includes the removal of automatic contract renewals, a confirmation letter that summarizes the agreement and indicates an opt-out date and a third-party verification call designed to ensure a customer has understood the agreement that he or she has signed.
Moreover, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) oversees the conduct of gas marketers. All gas marketers participating in the Customer Choice program must be qualified, approved and licensed by the BCUC and must adhere to the BCUC’s Code of Conduct for gas marketers. If customers are concerned about the conduct of a gas marketer, they may contact the BCUC (bcuc.com).
We encourage customers not to rush to a decision and to take their time in making a choice that best meets their needs by comparing rates and reviewing information about the program. The program was not designed to provide a guarantee of savings, but rather to provide customers with a fixed-rate alternative to the FortisBC variable rate. The offer delivers price certainty to customers over the long term – an option that wasn’t previously available.
Further details about the Customer Choice program, including a comprehensive guide and questions to ask a gas marketer, are available on our website, fortisbc.com/choice.