Just Energy settles deception charges for $4 million
Just Energy, a company that competes with utilities to sell businesses and residences electricity, has agreed to pay $4 million to settle charges by Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office that it deceived and overcharged customers.
The complaint alleges that sales representatives of Just Energy, Inc. and affiliated companies made false promises of savings and charged customers extra after signing them on with low introductory rates. Small businesses were charged large termination fees, the attorney general’s office said, despite not having been warned of them.
“We allege this competitive supplier engaged in widespread and misleading conduct that lured consumers into costly contracts in the form of high electricity rates and termination fees,” Coakley said in a statement. “As residents in Massachusetts face rising electricity bills this winter, our office will continue to protect consumers from deceptive sales practices.”
Just Energy cooperated with the investigation, Coakley’s office said. According to court documents, the company denied all wrongdoing. It agreed not to recruit low-income customers unless it guaranteed them savings, and it agreed to waive termination fees for residential customers on variable-rate contracts unless they were on an introductory rate.
Competitive suppliers have signed up growing numbers of Massachusetts households in recent years. Although industries and other large-scale electricity users can often save, the switching process can be complicated for everyday consumers and the savings are often small.