• Report: #319994

Complaint Review: Universal Gas & Electric

  • Submitted: Fri, March 21, 2008
  • Updated: Sat, August 30, 2008

  • Reported By:Brownstown Michigan
Universal Gas & Electric
30555 Southfield Road, Suite 440 Southfield, Michigan U.S.A.

Universal Gas & Electric Misrepresented Contract at time of signing Southfield Michigan

*Author of original report: They are wrong again as the State of Michigan ruled

*UPDATE Employee: Please educate yourself before criticizing

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A representative from Universal Gas & Electric rang my door bell and explaoned to me that I could save money on my gas bill by contracting with their company. I asked him how much and he stated the savings were significant in one year. I also asked him if I could cancel the contract and he stated I could. After 6 months of their service my utility bill doubled so I telephoned the company and they told me to cancel. I tried to cancel but they want $250 up front to cancel the contract.

Brownstown, Michigan

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 03/21/2008 01:54 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Universal-Gas-Electric/Southfield-Michigan-48076/Universal-Gas-Electric-Misrepresented-Contract-at-time-of-signing-Southfield-Michigan-319994. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Author of original report

They are wrong again as the State of Michigan ruled

AUTHOR: Andrew - (U.S.A.)

The company wishes to lay blame on me the consumer, but the State of Michigan ruled recently that their practices are deceptive and they have cancelled my contract. WATCH OUT CONSUMERS!
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#2 UPDATE Employee

Please educate yourself before criticizing

AUTHOR: Jo Jo - (U.S.A.)

In response to Andrew's comment, "After 6 months of their [Universal Gas & Electric] service my utility bill doubled..."

THIS IS BLATANTLY FALSE. First, the most that a customer's rate could have increased would have been 50%, based upon DTE Energy/MichCon's lowest recent rate of $0.700, and Universal's five-year rate of $1.049. However, even a 50% increase would be less than the average increase for all gas prices in metro Detroit over the last five years.

And, gas prices are on the rise again. Here are gas prices for DTE Energy/MichCon for the last three months (per Ccf):
February 2008 $0.70000
March 2008 $0.84900 (14.900 cent increase = 21.3% increase)
April 2008 $1.00500 (15.600 cent increase = 18.4% increase)
May 2008 ???

Gas prices have gone up to $1.005, that's a $0.305 increase (44%) over the past few months. How does paying $1.049 for the next five years compare to recent gas prices?

In response to Andrew's comment, "...I could save money on my gas bill by contracting with their company. I asked him how much and he stated the savings were significant in one year. I also asked him if I could cancel the contract and he stated I could."

Determination of the true nature of the discussions between the customer and the sales agent at the time of sale is virtually impossible. Many Universal sales agents work long hours and contact hundreds of customers or potential customers. It is highly unlikely that a sales agent will remember a particular sales call weeks or months after the event. If the agent does remember what was said, the issue then becomes one of he said, she said. Frequently customers raise these issues long after the sales meeting took place, and the customer's recollection may be less than perfect, or in some cases conveniently one-sided (as may likewise be the case with the agent's recollection).

Another factor that makes Universal's interaction with customers unique is that the agent's first task is to educate the customers regarding the concept of Gas Customer Choice. Most residential customers are not aware that they have the ability and right to purchase their natural gas supply from a company other than their utility. Because customers are unfamiliar with Gas Customer Choice and Universal's product, there is opportunity for confusion to arise when a customer interacts with an agent. Accordingly, in this situation, there is not only a risk that the agent may not adequately explain the product; THERE IS ALSO A RISK THAT THE CUSTOMER MAY NOT UNDERSTAND AN EXPLANATION THAT WAS PERFECTLY ADEQUATE.

Universal Gas & Electric takes any incident where one of its agents engages in false and intentionally misleading conduct very seriously. Agents engaging in such conduct violate company policy and are subject to termination.

Universal Gas & Electric has historically addressed the very nature of Andrew's complaint by attempting to eliminate or minimize these events. Universal does this through training, creating disincentives for agents to engage in fraudulent activity, and establishing verification processes for quality control purposes. Examples are as follows:
Training specifically targeting inappropriate conduct.
Strict enforcement of Universal's Code of Conduct.
Written confirmation of contract terms in bold and legible print on the face of the contract.
Written confirmation of the contract terms through the Terms and Conditions brochure provided to customers.
Quality checking through use of verification calls.
Quality checking through use of verification letters.
Suspension and termination of agents who breach UGE's Code of Conduct.

In addition to what the agent told you Andrew, you:
1.) Signed a contract that specifically stated the program details.
2.) Were provided a copy of the contract and New Customer User Guide (same day) that explained the program in even more detail.
3.) Received a verification phone call (same day) that ensured that the agent was professional, wore his identification, explained the program properly, and that YOU UNDERSTOOD THE PROGRAM DETAILS.
4.) Received a Welcome Letter (within 2 weeks) that further explained the program details.
5.) You also had a 30 day unconditional cancellation period that you could have exercised by oral or written consent if you did not want the program.

Andrew, while it is virtually impossible to know what was actually said vs. what you interpreted as being said, one thing is clear. You had numerous chances to become familiar with the program and, in fact, through signing the contract, passing the verification phone call, and not canceling in 30 days, expressly consented to understanding the program.

So, either:
1.) You did understand the program and believed it would save you money (thus reinforcing what you claim the agent said) or,
2.) You did not understand the program, yet consented numerous times to having understood the program.

-If 1.) above is true, then I don't understand why you are posting a complaint on ripoffreport.com
-If 2.) above is true, then why are you singling out blame on the agent? You are the one fraudulently misrepresenting your understanding of the agreement to Universal Gas & Electric.

In any case, Andrew, DTE Energy/MichCon gas rates will be $1.005 in April of 2008. Universal has protected your rate at $1.049 for the next five years. Why would you want to cancel?! Don't you think gas prices will go up 4.4 cents (4.4%) over the next five years?

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