Action News Troubleshooters: Third-party utility suppliers

Many of us operate on autopilot when we get a utility bill and just automatically pay the balance, but the Action News Troubleshooters warn that could be a costly mistake.
No one wants to overpay for a utility, but you could be doing that right now and not even realize it.

Sandi Kushner said a deal spelled out to her by a Spark Energy salesperson who came to her door back in 2010 sounded too good to pass up.

"She was laying out how I could save a significant amount of money on my monthly gas and electric bills," said Sandi.

Sandi said the deal being offered by the third party supplier sounded good so she signed up.

"I paid attention to my bill for the first few months and I was saving money," she said.

But then Kushner stopped checking her bills, until this year.

"I got an enormously high bill of nearly $600," she said.

That got Kushner's attention so she started investigating why her electric and gas bill was so high.

Kushner says she discovered PSE&G's rate was 34 cents and she had been paying Spark Energy $1.17 for many years.

"They said you didn't renew your contract after the first year, and I said I don't know anything about that, so apparently it must have been written in the fine print," she said.

Kushner says it was at that point, she canceled her contract with Spark Energy.

"They canceled and I said I really believe you owe me money for all this overpayment, to which they said 'No, we don't owe you anything,'" she said.

So Kushner contacted the Action News Troubleshooters, and after we got involved, Kushner received a refund of $1560.

"I was so impressed. I was so excited," she said. "I was telling everybody at work all about it."

You do have to be careful when choosing a secondary gas or power company.

Look for the company with the lowest fixed rate and mark on your calendar when your term is up so you can either renew or check to see if there's an even lower rate available.

Spark Energy told us they have no comment on our story.

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