«YOUR RIGHTS AS A CUSTOMER This document summarizes Your Rights as a Customer, and is based on customer protection rules adopted by the Public Utility ...»
REP Certificate Number 10034
YOUR RIGHTS AS A CUSTOMER
This document summarizes Your Rights as a Customer, and is based on customer protection rules adopted by the Public Utility Commission of Texas
(PUC). These rules apply to all retail electric providers (REPs) and the provider of last resort (POLR), unless otherwise noted. You may view the
PUC's rules at http://www.puc.state.tx.us/agency/rulesnlaws/subrules/electric/Electric.aspx. Contact information is located at the end of this document.
Obtaining and Canceling Service Unauthorized Change of Service Provider or "Slamming": A REP must obtain your verifiable authorization before switching your electric service. If you believe your electric service has been switched without your authorization, you should request that the REP provide you with a copy of your authorization and verification. The REP must submit this to you within 5 business days of your request. If you are not satisfied with this response, you may also file a complaint with the PUC at the address provided below. Upon receipt of a complaint filed with the PUC, the REP must respond within 21 days of receipt of the complaint, providing all documentation relied upon by the REP related to the authorization to switch, and any corrective actions taken to date, if any.
If a REP is serving your account without proper authorization, they must work with other market participants to take all actions necessary to return you to your original REP as quickly as possible. Your original REP has the right to bill you at the price disclosed in your terms of service from either: 1) the date you are returned to your original REP, or 2) any prior date chosen by your original REP for which that REP had the authorization to serve you.
The REP that served you without proper authorization shall, within five days from the date that your service is returned to your original REP, refund all charges paid for the time period the original REP ultimately bills you. In addition, the REP that served you without your authorization is responsible for paying all charges associated with returning your service to your REP of choice. For periods that the unauthorized REP served you that are not billed to you by your original REP, the REP that served you without your authorization may bill you, but at a rate no higher than the rate you would have been charged by your original REP.
Right of Rescission: When requesting a switch in service providers, you may rescind your contract with the new REP without any penalty or fee within 3 federal business days after you receive your Terms of Service Agreement. For details on how to rescind your service, please see your Terms of Service Agreement. This right of rescission does not apply to applicants requesting a move-in, to customers whose REP transfers thecustomer to the POLR, or when a REP "drops" a customer to the affiliated REP for non-payment. If you do not rescind your request for service within this three federal business day period, you will be responsible for all service rendered to you at the enrollment address. If you do not rescind the contract within this 3 federal business day period, you retain the right to select another REP and may do so by contacting that REP, although you will be responsible for any charges incurred to switch your service. See your Terms of Service Agreement for details regarding canceling or terminating your contract.
Unauthorized Charges or "Cramming": Before any new charges are included on your electric bill, your REP must inform you of the product or service, all associated charges, how these charges will appear on your electric bill and obtain your consent to accept the product or service. Your REP must provide you with a toll-free telephone number and address that you may use to resolve any billing dispute or to ask questions about your bill.
If you believe your electric bill includes unauthorized charges, you may contact your REP to dispute such charges and may file a complaint with the PUC. Your REP will not seek to terminate your electric service for nonpayment of an unauthorized charge or file an unfavorable credit report against you for disputed unpaid charges that are alleged to be unauthorized, unless the dispute is ultimately resolved against you. If the charges are determined to be unauthorized, your REP will cease charging you for the unauthorized service or product, remove the unauthorized charge from your bill, and refund or credit all money you paid for any unauthorized charge within 45 days. If charges are not refunded or credited within 3 billing cycles, interest shall be paid to you at an annual rate established by the PUC on the amount of any unauthorized charge until it is refunded/credited. You may request all billing records under the REP's control related to any unauthorized charges within 15 business days after the date the unauthorized charge is removed from your bill. Your REP will not re-bill you for any charges determined to be unauthorized.
Deferred Payment Plans and Other Payment Arrangements: If you cannot pay your bill, please call your REP immediately. Your REP may offer you a short-term payment arrangement that allows you to pay your bill after your due date, but before your next bill is due. In addition, you may qualify for a "deferred payment plan". A deferred payment plan allows payment of an outstanding balance in installments beyond the due date of the next bill.
The REP may require a minimum installment payment of up to 50% of the deferred amount to activate the plan. The minimum term of the deferred payment plan is five (5) monthly bill cycles. Accounts with active deferred payment plans are subject to switch-hold. Switch-hold means that you will not be able to buy electricity from other companies until you pay the total deferred balance. All deferred payment plans are formalized in writing to the customer and balances are billed on the customer’s monthly statements. Additional details of a deferred payment plan will be provided upon activation. All REPs must offer customers deferred payment plans for bills that are due during an extreme weather emergency, state of disaster declared by the Governer, and to customers who have been under-billed in the amount of $50.00 or more. A deferred payment plan may include a 5% penalty for late payment; however, the POLR may not charge a late fee. REPs must also offer level or average payment plans to customers who are not currently delinquent in payment to the REP.
If you do not fulfill the terms of the payment arrangement deferred payment plan, or the level or average payment plan, your REP may either terminate or disconnect your service as discussed further below. For additional details on these programs, please see your Terms of Service Agreement or contact your REP for more information.
Financial and Energy Assistance: If a customer contacts the REP and indicates an inability to pay, the REP must inform the customer of all applicable payment options and payment assistance programs that are offered by or available from the REP. An electric customer who receives food stamps, Medicaid, TANF or SSI from the TDHS or whose household income is not more than 125% of the federal poverty guidelines may qualify for energy assistance from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA). Call your REP for more details about discounts available for qualified low-income customers.
Meter Reading and Testing: Please contact your REP for information regarding how to read your meter. You have the right to request a meter test.
Your REP may make this request to your Local Distribution Company (LDC) on your behalf. If a test is performed more than once in a four-year period, and the meter is determined to be functioning properly, then you may be charged a fee for the additional meter test(s) at the rate approved for your LDC. The LDC or REP will advise you of the test results, including the test date, testing person and, if applicable, the removal date of the meter.
Disconnection and Termination Failure to Pay: For customers who do not pay their electric bill by the due date, their REP may either "terminate" their electric service agreement or request the LDC to "disconnect" the electric service, after the expiration of a required 10-day notice period.
Termination of Service: If your payment for electric service is not received by the due date on your bill, your service agreement may be terminated. If you do not obtain electric service from another REP, your electric account will be "dropped" to the Affiliated REP (AREP) in your area. Your REP will mail you a separate Termination Notice no earlier than the first day after the date your bill is due. The termination date will be no less than 10 days from the date the notice is issued. The final date your account balance is due may not fall on a holiday, weekend day, or any other day that the REP's personnel are not available to take payments. If payment is received, or satisfactory payment arrangements are made prior to the date of termination on the Termination Notice, your REP will continue to serve you under the Terms of Service Agreement in effect prior to issuance of the Termination Notice.
Your REP cannot terminate your service for any of the following reasons:
failure to pay for electric service by a previous occupant of the premise if that occupant is not of the same household;
failure to pay any charge unrelated to electric service;
failure to pay a different type or class of electric service not included on the account's bill when service was initiated;
failure to pay under-billed charges that occurred for more than 6 months (except theft of service);
failure to pay any disputed charges until your REP or the PUC determines the accuracy of the charges and you have been notified of this determination; or failure to pay an estimated bill unless the estimated bill is part of a pre-approved meter-reading program or in the event the LDC is unable to read the meter due to circumstances beyond its control.
Additionally, your REP may not terminate your service if it receives notification by the final due date stated on your termination notice that an energy assistance provider will be forwarding sufficient payment on your account, and you have paid or made arrangements to pay any outstanding debt not covered by the energy assistance provider.
Disconnection of Service: The PUC has provided that under certain dangerous circumstances (such as unsafe electric line situations) any REP, including the Provider of Last Resort (POLR), may authorize your LDC to disconnect your electric service without prior notice to you. Additionally, your
REP may be allowed to seek to have your electric service disconnected for any of the reasons listed below:
failure to pay a bill owed to the REP or to make a deferred payment arrangement by the date of disconnection;
failure to comply with the terms of a deferred payment arrangement or other payment agreement made with the REP;
using service in a manner that interferes with the service of others or the operation of nonstandard equipment;
failure to pay a deposit required by the REP; or failure of a guarantor to pay the amount guaranteed when the REP has a written agreement, signed by the guarantor, which allows for disconnection of the guarantor's service.
Prior to disconnecting your service, your REP must provide you with a written Disconnect Notice. This notice must be mailed to you separately (or hand-delivered) no earlier than the first day after the date your bill is due. The disconnection date must be 10 days from the date the notice is issued and may not fall on a holiday or weekend (or the day preceding) unless the REPs personnel are available to take payments and service can be reconnected.
Your REP may not seek to have your electric service disconnected by your LDC for any of the reasons listed under the Termination of Service section of this document.
Additionally, your REP may not disconnect your electric service:
if the REP receives notification by the final due date stated on the disconnection notice that an energy assistance provider will be forwarding sufficient payment on your account, and you have paid or made payment arrangements to pay any outstanding debt not covered by the energy assistance provider's payment.
for non-payment during an extreme weather emergency, and upon request, the REP must offer you a deferred payment plan for bills due during the emergency; or for non-payment if you inform the REP, prior to the disconnection date stated on the notice, that you or another resident on the premises has a critical medical need for electric service. However, to obtain this exemption, you must enter into a deferred payment plan with your REP and have the ill-person's attending physician contact the REP and submit a written statement attesting to the necessity of electric service to support life. This exemption from disconnection due to illness or disability shall be in effect for 63 days and may be applied for again after the 63 days has expired and the deferred payment plan has been fulfilled.
Availability Of Provider of Last Resort: If you are notified that you are subject to termination or disconnection of your electric service, you may seek to obtain services from another REP or the POLR. You have the option to request service from the POLR, which offers a standard retail service package. Information about the POLR and other REPs can be obtained from the PUC or the POLR.
Restoration of Service: If your service has been disconnected by your REP for non-payment, your REP or the POLR will, upon satisfactory correction of the reasons for the disconnection, notify your LDC to reconnect your service. If your service was disconnected due to a dangerous situation, your service will be reconnected once you demonstrate to your REP or the POLR that you have corrected the dangerous situation.