Green Mountain Energy / dishonest billing practices
I was a Reliant Customer for years, but switched about a year ago to Green Mountain Energy soley because it is 100% renewable and I felt I needed to do my part for the environment, even though they were a bit more expensive.
After 9 months with them, I noticed my bill had really increased (in the winter...when my electric bill is usually lower). So I started studying all of my bills. The reason for the increase was that they increased my kw/H charge..really hiked it. But per my contract, they can do that. But what I found that was really disturbing was I was charged late fees on 3 of my 9 bills. I'm never late with bills! I do online banking and my bank guarantees the merchant will have the payment by the due date input by me and I always put the due date or the day before.
So, I called them to see when they had received these 3 "late" payments (they don't put that information on your invoice like most companies) and they kinda hide the fact they you were even assessed a late fee...I think they don't want you to notice...just like I didn't until I studied them. Turns out that they did receive each of these 3 payments on their due dates, but received them after 11 am, so they didn't post until the next day and hence they consider them late.
I questioned how they can be late if they are received ON the due date. It's just how their receiving department works...if they don't make it in the morning "batch" to be posted, then they make it in the evening one which doesn't actually post it in their system until the next day (1-2 am the next day). I told them this wasn't right, that they need to tell their customers that (i.e. tell them that they will be assessed a late fee if it is not received by 11 am on the due date...you know...be honest with them). They refused to change anything even after I told them I'd report these dishonest practices to the BBB.
So, I ended up having to report them to the BBB. The resolution I requested was to have them either change their posting system to not assess late fees if it came in on the due date OR to let customers know that they will be charged a late fee if received after 11 am on the due date. Green Mountain responded simply that they are allowed by law to assess late fees. So basically they didn't address the issue at hand. So I responded (via the BBB process) that they did not address my issue. My issue is not with them assessing late fees, but that they do it when the payment was not late. Green Mountain's response was that their position remains the same (i.e. they are not going to be honest with their customers).
So I wanted to warn consumers out there about this. My feeling is that if you cannot trust a company to be honest, even with the things customers can see, how can you trust them with things that you cannot see (i.e. is their energy really 100% renewable)? We have no way of knowing...and frankly I don't trust them to do the right thing based on my experience with them.
So, I've looked on the internet for other electrical provider options. Turns out there are plenty! People (like me) think that Green Mountain is the only option if you want all green (renewable) energy. But wow, there are many others who offer 100% renewal and most of them are cheaper! There are all sorts of things to compare (locked in rates for 12 months or 18, etc). I found a great deal and have switched. It was so easy. Not only will I be paying less, I can remain green without paying a company who is conciously deciding to partake in dishonest business practices.
If you want to see the other options, there are many websites (google with the words energy company texas). One that is really insightful is http://www.powertochoose.org/ Read all about it and compare companies and their rates. There are programs within most companies that are 100% renewable.
Good luck, and please join me in not giving dishonest companies our business.
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