Have you ever had a feeling you’re paying twice what you used to pay for your utility bills like electricity? That’s annoying as hell, isn’t it? But the truth is, it’s even worse. It’s illegal.
Slamming and cramming are two widely used terms referring to unauthorized switching or charging utility services. There’s been some regulation and auditing in recent years to avoid these unscrupulous practices. Yet, many continue to fall victim to slamming and cramming. Hence, let’s find out what these concepts exactly mean and how to avoid them.
There are multiple Alternative Retail Electric Suppliers (ARES) competing against each other to attract new clients and keep existing ones satisfied. And unfortunately, competition has a dark side from time to time.
Sometimes it is more than enough for a utility supplier to get your account number and personal information to get their hands dirty. They contact your current electric supplier, convince them that you changed your mind about their services and Congratulations! You have a new supplier! Meanwhile, you have no clue what just happened.
You’ll not notice anything at all because there’ll be no power disruption, nor will you be visited by their technicians. We often receive the bills, and most of the time, without paying enough attention to the details, we just pay. That’s clearcut slamming!
In short, slamming energy is the illegal and unprincipled tactic of signing customers up for energy supplying services without their knowledge or consent.
When a utility provider charges an unauthorized fee for a specific product or service, it’s called cramming. What’s more, cramming energy, for some reason, happens more often than slamming. Hence, it deserves extra attention.
Cramming like any other unauthorized charge is illegal, and customers shouldn’t pay for it. Some of these charges are for services you received but didn’t agree to, but surprisingly sometimes you’re charged for nothing. Maybe it’s not that surprising after all. That’s why you should always inspect your bills carefully to avoid these kinds of scams.
Slamming and cramming are rare, but they do occur. The reality is in many cases; victims don’t even notice it till they lose a big chunk of money. So how should we make sure it doesn’t happen to us? Here are four tried-and-true strategies that can help you avoid trouble, whether from human error or energy billing fraud:
First of all, read the entire energy contract and examine each term carefully. That will save you from a lot of headaches later on. Make sure every part of the agreement is clear, and your rights are reserved. You can even give your lawyer a call if necessary.
Don’t give your personal information such as your name, phone number, address, or any kind of data about your utility account number to someone who pretends to be your supplier’s representative.
This is where all the trouble begins. Without this information, the chances of falling victim to any kind of scam are incredibly meager. One common way of slamming is done by a person posing as a door-to-door salesperson. Unless you have personally asked them to come, or you’re able to verify their identity and affiliation, you can just ignore them.
Many customers also report they’ve been slammed via email. It usually starts with an intriguing motivation claiming you have won a gift or a new special offer or a crazy discount. In any case, don’t provide your signature or any other personal details to anyone who calls, emails, or comes to your house.
Reading your electricity bill every month prevents any tricky switching. Your electric supplier company’s name is never more than a single line, and it’s easy to overlook it. All we often care about is how much we should pay, but there is more to it.
After verifying the name, you should check all the services and costs and match them with the initial agreement you’ve signed. If there’s any contract mismatch, you should immediately call your supplier and determine what’s changed. Also, be aware of the contract’s expiration date to avoid unnecessary trouble.
Last but not least, you should look for an electricity provider with an excellent reputation that offers a wide range of rates and plans. An established customer base and continuous support can be a big plus as well.
Now Power offers some of the best prepaid energy plans in Texas. We practice honesty and transparency with our clients in pricing and services. Consequently, you don’t need to worry about cramming and slamming anymore. We’ve got you covered. Reach out to us today for more details!