Just Energy Customers to Receive Payment for Deceptive Marketing, Conduct
Under Agreement with AG’s Office, Just Energy Sending Checks to 7,655 Customers Who Qualify for $2.5 Million in Restitution Over Five Week Period
BOSTON— Customers of a competitive electricity supplier are beginning to receive restitution payments as part of a $4 million settlement reached with company to settle allegations of deceptive marketing, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
The payments are part of an assurance of discontinuance the AG’s Office negotiated with Just Energy Inc. and its affiliates in December 2014. The AG’s Office alleged that Just Energy, through its door-to-door agents and a third-party telemarketing vendor, engaged in deceptive marketing and sales tactics that misled consumers into signing contracts based on attractive introductory pricing, only to later experience an increase in their electricity supply costs.
“Customers who were misled and taken advantage of by this company deserve to get their money back,” said AG Healey. “As the ratepayer advocate for residents, our office will go after companies who are deceiving customers.”
According to the settlement, Just Energy representatives allegedly failed to disclose accurate pricing information to customers by promising savings or representing that they could help customers keep their bills low. The company also allegedly continued to offer electricity supply services to elderly and non-English speaking customers even after it became clear that the customers did not understand the terms of the contract.
Customers were allegedly switched to Just Energy from their basic utility service company without their authorization. Some customers allegedly were charged termination fees worth tens of thousands of dollars even though they were never previously advised of the charges.
Just Energy, through an independent trustee appointed to manage the restitution program, began mailing out checks to customers who qualify for full restitution the last week of October and will continue to send payments to those who qualify over a five-week period. The company, through the trustee, will mail checks to 7,655 customers who qualify for a total restitution of $2.5 million.
Customers who complained about the price of their product and customers who were enrolled by a third-party marketing firm, Infinity Marketing Group, will receive checks for the difference between what they paid Just Energy for their electricity supply and what they would have paid if they had continued to receive basic service from their utility company and a refund for any exit fee they might have incurred to terminate their service with Just Energy. The payments are being mailed as follows:
- On Monday, Oct. 26 1,682 accounts were mailed payments of over $500
- On Monday, Nov. 2 2,663 accounts were mailed payments of between $300 and $500
- On Monday, Nov. 9 1,517 accounts will be mailed payments of between $170 and $300
- On Monday, Nov. 16 1,318 accounts will be mailed payments between $75.01 and $170
- On Monday Nov. 23 1,475 customers will be mailed payments of $75 and under
The remainder of the restitution fund will be paid out to a second group of customers after payments to the first group have been completed. This group consists of most of the remaining customers who signed up for Just Energy’s variable rates and customers who paid a termination fee to Just Energy.
View a sample of the envelope and letter mailed out to customers who qualified for restitution.
Just Energy also agreed to pay $200,000 to the state as part of its settlement. The company has also agreed not to enroll low-income customers unless it guarantees them savings.
For more information regarding factors to consider when deciding whether to obtain basic service from a competitive supplier, visit the AG’s Office’s competitive supply fact sheet website.