PUC Urges Consumers to #CheckForID When Dealing with Door-to-Door or In-Person Energy Sales Agents
Published on 6/5/2023
Offers Key Tips to Help Identify Legitimate Sales Agents and Avoid Deceptive, Misleading or High-Pressure Marketing Pitches
HARRISBURG – As in-person sales and marketing activities increase across Pennsylvania – driven by warmer weather and continuing fluctuations in energy prices – the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today is offering consumers key tips to help identify legitimate door-to-door energy sales agents and avoid potential scams.
“Pennsylvania has clear rules regarding energy sales practices, and the PUC encourages consumers to understand these important protections,” said Gladys Brown Dutrieuille, PUC Chairman. “PUC regulations provide consumers with essential tools to help recognize deceptive sales practices and avoid falling victim to unscrupulous sales agents.”
Tip #1: Always #CheckForID
Pennsylvania’s regulations for energy sales and marketing require agents who conduct door-to-door activities, or appear at public events, to wear badges that clearly identify themselves and the supplier they are working for.
Identification badges for energy sales agents must include the following:
- Accurate identification of the supplier, including its trade name and logo.
- A photograph of the sales agent.
- The full name of the sales agent.
- A customer-service phone number to contact the supplier.
- The ID badge must be prominently displayed.
Tip #2: Know Who You are Dealing With
Upon first contact with a customer, an energy sales agent must clearly identify himself/herself by name, the energy supplier being represented, and the reason for the visit.
With that introductory information from the sales agent, along with the details displayed on the agent’s ID badge, consumers should know exactly who they are speaking to.
Tip #3: No False Claims about Utilities or other Entities
Energy sales agents are NOT allowed/permitted to say they are working for the customer’s local utility, another supplier, or government agencies like the PUC.
Also, sales agents are NOT allowed/permitted to wear hats, jackets other clothing that includes logos or branding that might suggests a relationship with a utility, government agency, or other supplier – or carry items like clipboards or other accessories that could confuse consumers about who they are dealing with.
Tip #4: Avoid Deceptive or High-Pressure Sales
The PUC urges consumers to avoid sales pitches pressuring them to act now, reminding them that they are not required to choose a competitive supplier for their electricity or natural gas supply.
Agents must immediately leave a residence when requested to do so, and furthermore must honor a customer’s request to be exempted from future door-to-door sales and marketing activities. Upon receipt of such a request, the agent notifies the supplier, which removes the customer from their databases within two business days.
Customers facing an aggressive sales agent or suspecting a potential scam are urged to contact the PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services at 1-800-692-7380 and consider filing an informal complaint. Consumers who feel threatened or are concerned about their safety should contact local authorities to report the incident.
Tip #5: Shop Around – Compare Prices using PAPowerSwitch & PAGasSwitch
In addition to door-to-door sales, consumers have other avenues to shop for their electric generation or natural gas supply. For both industries, the PUC operates neutral, independent websites in www.PAPowerSwitch.com (electric) and www.PAGasSwitch.com (natural gas) where 24 hours a day, seven days a week consumers can access current supplier offerings, consumer education fact sheets, and information on energy efficiency and conservation.
The PAPowerSwitch and PAGasSwitch websites can be used to shop for energy supply offers, and they can also be used to check or compare offers that consumers may receive by phone, mail, or in-person – helping consumers identify options that may be most valuable to them.
Other Consumer Safeguards
To further safeguard consumers, Pennsylvania regulations also require energy suppliers to obtain criminal background checks on all their door-to-door agents.
Also, between April 1 through Sept. 30, hours for door-to-door energy sales are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., but when a local ordinance has stricter limitations, a supplier must comply with the local ordinance.
The complete list of regulations governing marketing and sales practices for Pennsylvania’s retail residential energy market is found at 52 Pa. Code, Chapter 111.
About the PUC
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
Visit the PUC’s website at www.puc.pa.gov for recent news releases and video of select proceedings. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube. Search for the “Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission” or “PA PUC” on your favorite social media channel for updates on utility issues and other helpful consumer information.
# # #
Need More Help?
Public utility documents available electronically include case dockets, public meeting orders and more.
Filing & Resources
Find utility-related reports, laws and regulations, federal filings, tariffs, procedures and more.
Consumers, utilities and attorneys can save time by submitting documents to the PUC electronically.