Goldhawk Fights Back: Breaking the Contract
This is a weekly column by Dale Goldhawk, Canada’s best-known consumer advocate. A journalist, author and broadcaster, Dale hosts Goldhawk Fights Back For You, on AM 740 or at AM740 ZoomerRadio, Monday through Friday from 11 am to 1 pm, in the eastern time zone. Visit his website at www.goldhawk.com.
Once in a while, it can happen to us all. Despite our usual good judgment, we suspend our critical disbelief and sign a contract we later lament we should never have signed.
I have a good example in mind. It’s even a prevalent example. You sign an energy contract for natural gas or electricity, after that nice man banged on your door, raving about how much money you could save.
But then, after closer examination, you discover you’re locked in for a five-year contract, at a price higher or way higher than the price you are already paying your utility.
Or maybe you just decided you didn’t want to gamble that energy prices would go up and make you look like a sharp investor.
Or maybe you just thought tying yourself up in any kind of five year contract for a household utility was a bit excessive.
Here are some ways out. No matter what the reason, you can cancel that energy contract you signed at your door, within 10 days of signing–a 10-day cooling-off period. Send an e-mail, a fax or a registered letter to the company.
If you do nothing after signing, anywhere between day 11 and day 60, the company is required by law to call you and confirm your acceptance of the contract. Say no and the contract is cancelled. And the company must keep a recording of your acceptance or rejection of the contract.
If you say yes, you might still be able to get out of the contract later on.
Some energy sellers are letting customers out of their contracts if the customers can prove they are 65 or older. But this is not a regulation, warns Brian Hewson, Chief Compliance Officer with the Ontario Energy Board, even though some sellers are offering this way out.
One last tactic: If you discover that your energy contract is forcing you to buy gas or electricity way above the current market price you might be able to cut a deal for a lower price with the company. There is no guarantee but I know of many customers who have been able to do it. What have you got to lose by trying?
As a last resort, if you do the math, you might find it’s worth it to pay a cancellation fee of several hundred dollars to get out of the contract.
Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Jacob Hamblin
READ OTHER COLUMNS BY DALE GOLDHAWK
Gemini award nominee, journalist and broadcaster, Dale Goldhawk has earned Canada’s trust by his four decades of work exposing fraud and greed in the marketplace. To read more of his articles, go to www.Goldhawk.com (now part of the ZoomerMedia family of websites).