Have you lowered your electric rate yet?
We’ve gotten a couple or three of these nice shiny fliers in the mail, by themselves or as magazine inserts or whatever.
They’re nicely designed, with a decently-balanced set of sans-serif fonts, a sort of green abstract flower logo and “Power for change” tagline. My brain ran some sort of until-recently-subconscious algorithm, thinking “well, this seems to be targeted at somewhat progressive folks, progressives tend to be intelligent, so if they’re targeting intelligent people it’s less likely to be a scam”. (Not an entirely terrible algorithm, although extremely heuristic.)
What they are offering is a lower rate on the same electricity delivered through the same power lines, billed on the same bill etc. Pay less money for exactly the same thing; sounds like a good deal! There’s a big box, very well highlighted by color and shape, saying “conEdison 6.79¢” and “North American Power (flower logo) 4.99¢”. So that’s almost a couple of cents per kilowatt-hour, can’t be bad!
I’d been ignoring these but not throwing them away either, on the theory that it’s good to save money. Before calling the Toll Free Number I sat down and looked around the Interwebs, just y’know in case.
There wasn’t an awful lot of obviously-relevant stuff, but there were a few good ones. One comparison of alternative electricity suppliers (which I now can’t find again) gave the rate for North American Power as “(teaser rate, read the fine print)”. Another said in passing to remember that the introductory rate is for the first month “or less”, and that after that the rate is variable, and can become anything at all.
(Also, somewhat worryingly, there were quite a few hits comparing North American Power to various (other?) dodgy-sounding Multi-Level Marketing schemes, with lots of red-flag discussion about “lead generation” and “uplines” and “downlines” and things; which is sort of like doing a web search on a potential babysitter and getting lots of hits on cockfighting sites.)
So anyway, that seemed like a good point; the fine print (very very tiny fine print) on the fliers does refer in passing to “one month introductory price”. I looked around the official web site, but couldn’t find anything about the non-introductory price. So I actually called the 800 number and asked.
The nice lady said that they don’t have any graphs of actual prices over time (a bit odd), but that the current non-introductory price is 6.99¢.
That is, 0.20¢ higher than the conEdison price featured on the flyer.
So maybe not such a good idea after all? As the flier says, “[p]aying even a fraction more for the energy you use every second of the day is paying too much.”
If something looks too good to be true… :)