SOURCE: AARP

April 10, 2009 14:03 ET

New Law Protects Consumers From Private Gas Suppliers' Predatory Practices

Governor Quinn Delivers New AARP-Backed Law Taking Aim at Slick Promises of Lower Bills & Deceptive Sales Pitches

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - April 10, 2009) - With nearly 45% of the country struggling to pay for basic home utilities, it's easy for people to fall prey to the promise of lower natural gas bills -- a promise that too often falls short, resulting in much higher bills. Today, Governor Pat Quinn has delivered a new law to change that, protecting Illinois consumers from the predatory bait and switch practices of alternative retail gas suppliers (ARGS).

With the signing of Senate Bill 171 into law, Illinois consumers have a new law on their side. The law requires alternative natural gas suppliers to disclose marketing information, to help ensure consumers aren't misled into bait and switch contracts, establishes cancellation rights, and limits the amounts charged for early termination. The legislation was sponsored by Senator Don Harmon and Representative Thomas Holbrook.

"On behalf of our nearly 2 million members in Illinois, AARP commends Governor Quinn for this new law, delivering needed consumer protections to an industry that in many cases is looking to make a quick buck from someone already struggling to make ends meet," said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois Senior State Director.

Key provisions of the law include:

--  Prohibiting alternative suppliers from misrepresenting their
    affiliation with a government entity, gas utility, consumer group or any
    other entity.
--  Requiring when all sales solicitation, agreement, verification or
    contract are translated into a foreign language that all documents are
    provided to the consumer in that language.
--  Allowing consumers to change their mind about switching to an
    alternative gas supplier.
--  Giving consumers the ability to rescind a contract without having to
    pay termination fees, within 10 days of receiving the first bill.
    

"AARP applauds the leadership of Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the Citizen's Utility Board and the legislation's sponsors, Senator Harmon and Representative Holbrook, for their efforts to tackle the deceptive practices of this industry," added Gallo.

According to the Attorney General's office, since 2005, over 3,000 complaints have been filed against ARGS in Illinois. Many complaints cited people were duped with misleading sales pitches and false promises of the lower bills.

Contact Information

  • Contacts:

    David Irwin
    (312) 458-3621

    Gerardo Cardenas
    (312) 458-3609