While deployed to the Middle East,national guardsman Sergio Gonzalez says he returned to find his gas company switched without his permission.
Gonzalez says a company called Smart One Energy took over his natural gas service with PG&E without his permission while he was deployed to Kuwait.
He says his gas bill doubled.
“What can I do, how can I stop this, because I didn’t authorize this,” he said.
Gonzalez said when he contacted Smart One Energy they claimed someone from his house authorized the switch. But he’s the only one named on his gas bill, and he knows he didn’t do it from Kuwait.
“I wanted to reach through the phone and choke the guy, but I obviously couldn’t do that,” he said.
We’ve told you about third-party companies going door to door or calling you up offering to lock you into fixed rates for gas which in some cases really can save you money.
Now reports of slamming, the practice of switching service without your permission, are now creeping into utilities.
“We have to stop these types of unauthorized switching,” said Mark Toney consumer advocate with The Utility Reform Network.
He fought for state rules just passed on April 25 forcing gas companies to get an independent third party to verify you want to switch.
“No customer especially a customer out of the country should ever be switched without their expressed permission,” said Toney.
We repeatedly reached out to Smart One Energy but never heard back.
Gonzalez has now switched back to his original gas provider and doesn’t want Smart One Energy to get away with unauthorized switching.
“I want that company stopped, put out of business and just refund people’s money,” he said.
There have also been complaints of some natural gas companies falsely saying they’re with PG&E and promise savings but are actually third-party companies locking you into their contracts.
If someone comes to your door claiming to be from PG&E or your current utility company, ask to see their badge.
If you did not authorize a switch and wanted to go back to your original supplier, call them They’ll usually switch you back with no problem. It might take a few months for the unauthorized utility company to get removed from your bill.