June 2004 to March, 2012
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Zapping Direct Energy’s water heater

[UPDATE: Direct Energy has backed away from its ill-conceived attempt to change its service terms unilaterally. No phone call is necessary, after all. I still intend to end my rental agreement, though.]

If you are renting a Direct Energy water heater, you have until April 2nd to stop them from changing your service terms. Unless you call or email to say that you want to keep your old terms, the new ones will kick in.

After April 2nd, unless you act, Direct Energy will be able to zap you with steep fees if you cancel your rental agreement. At present you can cancel without paying a penalty. (Well, almost… they will probably still get you with a whopping $75 + HST charge to pick up their old water heater.)

Naturally, the Direct Energy switchboards have been jammed but you can try calling 1-866-202-1120 to lock in your current terms. Failing that, you can email Direct Energy at rentalterms@directenergy.com

Personally, I am ashamed of my laziness, letting Direct Energy charge me so much for so long. It’s FAR cheaper to buy your own water heater and it’s no problem to get a service plan if that’s a concern. I may buy out the 10 year old heater I have, if Direct Energy doesn’t overcharge for it. If they want a ridiculous price for a unit that probably has 5 years of use left, I’ll cancel completely and get a new one.

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9 comments

1 Brian Hickey { 03.14.12 at 6:29 pm }

I own my water heater. $1200 and lasts 20 years.

2 Bill { 03.14.12 at 7:17 pm }

Yours is a good one, Brian. I’ll probably get a middle of the road, gas, 40 gallon heater for around $550 + HST and installation. Or maybe I’ll buy out the one I have and replace it in 3 or 4 years.

3 rg { 03.14.12 at 6:59 pm }

is it legal what they are doing ?

They are stifling competition

I thought there was a gov’t department

that go after companies that do that.

4 Bill { 03.14.12 at 7:10 pm }

Good question,rg. It seems strange to me that a rental agreement can be rewritten by one party without the consent of the other. But I’m not going to take on a legal battle and unless there’s a huge public outcry, I doubt that government agencies will lift a finger.

My plan is to end my relationship with Direct Energy. When Rogers tried its negative option billing scheme many years ago, I decided never to do business with a company that would try such a thing. Works for me.

5 Brandy { 03.15.12 at 12:57 pm }

I thought that ‘opting out’ was illegal?

On the letter I received they only give a phone number to call in order to opt out. If I email them with the address you provided, how can I be sure that they will receive it and update my account? They may just say they never got my email, or make up whatever. Even if phoning, how can I verify that I actually called to opt out? They can just play dumb there too.

What if all companies ran this way? ‘Let’s just change your account to the deluxe package at three times the cost, if you want to keep your current package, just TRY to get a hold of us in X days/hours/minutes to opt out.’

6 Bill { 03.15.12 at 1:25 pm }

I agree, Brandy, that Direct Energy has handled this very badly. A news report said that Ontario water heater rentals were spilling $20 MILLION into Direct Energy coffers EVERY MONTH. I supposed they are very keen to hang onto that money but I think the opposite is going to happen. People like me have woken up and want to become owners, not renters of our hot water heaters.

Whether or not the one-sided change in the service agreement is legal, I cannot say, but the simplest thing to do is to look in your old terms before April 2nd. You are right about proving that you made the call. I got through and was told by a courteous gent that my request had been recorded, but I have no paperwork to show that it is so. At least with the email, I have my message to show when my request was sent.

Frankly, I’m not too worried about proving that my old service terms should stand. I doubt that Direct Energy would be foolish enough to challenge us on that.

7 Frank deBrune { 03.15.12 at 1:31 pm }

The Direct Energy logo looks like barbed wire. DANGER! KEEP AWAY!

8 Ace { 03.15.12 at 11:40 pm }

Bill … CTV News tonight says Direct Energy withdrew this afternoon its plan to change its service terms due to public backlash. After all, customers still have remaining powers, huh?

9 Bill { 03.15.12 at 11:54 pm }

Thanks, Ace. Good to hear from you… and good news, too. Yes, Direct Energy has backed off. What a mess the company made of that, eh? I’ll put an update at the top of my entry about this.

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