Buying from Retailers

When you have a retailer at your door asking to see your hydro bill or talking to you about signing a contract, it’s in your best interest to know your rights.

You don’t have to sign with a retailer.

If you do nothing, don’t worry – you won’t lose power. You’ll automatically receive Essex Powerlines Standard Supply Service. There’s no requirement or deadline to sign with a retailer – you can do so at any time.

You don’t have to show your Essex Powerlines bill or provide your account number.

It’s in your best interest not to, unless you’re sure you want to sign a contract with them to supply your electricity.

Make sure you’re getting accurate and relevant information about the rates.

It’s important to know that the price being quoted by retailers should be for the cost of the electricity portion of your bill only. (This is the portion of the bill you use when comparing rates.) Don’t confuse it with other charges on your bill such as service charges, delivery charges, and other industry-related charges. For more information, go to Electricity Rates.

You have the right to completely review the entire retailer contract before signing.

It’s in your best interest to fully understand the details of your agreement. If you’re satisfied and decide to sign, ask for a signed copy. Remember, you should consider it a legally binding agreement just like any other contract.

You can cancel your contract within 10 days of signing it.

In this 10-day “cooling off” period, if you decide that you don’t want to buy your electricity from the retailer you’ve signed with, the retailer is obligated to release you from your contract. However, you must inform the retailer – via fax, registered mail or personal delivery – that you no longer wish to do business with them.

Be aware of the complaints process.

If you are enrolled with a retailer, and have questions or concerns about the rate you are being charged for electricity or about your contract, you should call your retailer directly. Once you have contacted your retailer, it’s important to keep detailed notes on actions taken to resolve any issues. According to the Retailers’ Code of Conduct, they are obliged to investigate all customer complaints about improper retailing activities and take appropriate action. If the retailer cannot resolve your situation within 10 days, they must advise you of that. However, if you cannot get a satisfactory answer from your retailer, then you should contact the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) at 1-877-632-2727  and follow their complaints process.

Ask the right questions:

When you have a retailer at your door, it’s important to ask them a few key questions before you sign anything:

  • Do you have a license from the Ontario Energy Board? Can I see proof of that license?
  • Do I have to sign a contract?
  • What is the duration of the contract?
  • Do I have to pay a fee to switch?
  • What is the price of electricity being offered and how will I be billed for it?
  • Are these rates fixed or will they change in the future?
  • What will be the overall impact on my electricity bill?
  • Do you have any payment options available (i.e. Pre-Authorized Payments or Payment Plans)?
  • What happens if I move?
  • What happens if you (the retailer) are unable to fulfill your contractual obligations?
  • What mix of energy generation sources do you use? Are environmentally friendly sources available?

Important Links

Whether you’re looking for more facts about retailers, comparative rate information, or another source for information about the open market, check these links regularly to find the answers you’re looking for: