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My tale of whoa!

Mothers, gather up your youngins, and sit here beside the fire as I tell a cautionary tale of woe. Oh yes, dear children, listen close and do not do as I have done.

Here’s the poop…

A while back, a young man came to our door, said he was with the Ontario Energy Board, and could he see a copy of our latest utility bill. “Uh, no,” I said. “We don’t want to change our energy provider, thanks.” “No,” he said, “I’m not an energy contractor. I’m just checking to make sure you’re getting a monthly energy credit. Some people got left off the list, so we’re going door to door to make sure.” When I was still reluctant to show him the bill, he said, “You don’t have to show it to me. Just check for yourself and see. It’s at the bottom of the bill.” Weeeeeelllll… it sounded legit, so I showed him the bill. And he showed me where the credit was and everything was hokey-dokey. And just before he handed the bill back to me, he said, “And you’re doing really well with your Time of Use rates too. Thanks for doing your part!” And he left.

“Now ain’t he a nice young man there Pa?”

“Yup. Yup, he is. Bound to go far, that one.”

And that should have been the end of it. ‘Course it wasn’t, or I wouldn’t be writing this, now would I?

A couple weeks later, The Mister was fixing supper and I was in the bathroom checking out a watery cyst on my eyelid that had been bothering me for a while, and right at that moment, it popped, and I called out for The Mister to nuke me some water so I could rinse it out. “OK, Missus! On the way!” But before he could get it to me, there’s a knock at the door. Now you must understand, The Mister is a kindly soul who believes the best of other people and simply cannot turn away someone at our doorstep no matter what they’re there for. Lo and behold, another young man who wants to see a copy of our gas and utility bills. “C’mon in!” says The Mister. “It’s freezin’ out there!” The young man does, and repeats his request. “Uh-huh,” says The Mister. “‘S’cuse me a moment while I get The Missus.” When he stuck his head through the bathroom door, I asked, “Where’s my water?”

He hesitates.

“There’s this young man in the kitchen…”

“Where’s my water?!”

Another hesitation.

“In the microwave. There’s this young man in the kitchen who wants to see our power bills.”

“Uh-huh. And do you see how my eye is leaking here and all this rapid blinking going on? Telltale signs all is not well.”

Yet another hesitation.

“Yes…but the young man…in the kitchen…?”

“Oh fine!” I say, wadding up a Kleenex and jamming it into my eye.

I go out to meet the young man in the kitchen.

Introductions made and pleasantries out of the way, the young man explains that he can offer some very reasonable flat rates for utilities. As he does so, I glance over at The Mister and notice what looks like cherry jam on his arm. “What did you spill on yourself?” I whisper while the young man rifles through his clipboard for some “literature.” “Nothing,” he whispers back. “It’s blood.”


The young man interrupts his schpiel and gawks at me.

“You cut yourself?! How?”

“Dude,” says the young man. “You should get, like, a band-aid or something.”

“I scrapped it on the cupboard door. I’m fine. Really. Go on, young man.”

“You are so not fine,” I squeek. “Let me clean that up.”

“Nah. Really, it’s fine.”

“Fine!” I repeat, jamming the Kleenex back in my eye.

“Fine,” says The Mister. “Carry on, young man. You were saying about flat rates…?

And the young man proceeds to tell us that we don’t have to “worry” about Time of Use any more. “That’s done,” he says, and with the new flat rates we stand to save a ton of money.

“Time of Use is done?” I say, refolding the Kleenex and pressing it against my eye. “When did they do away with Time of Use?” I admit, I’m not always up on current events, but I thought I would have heard about that.

“No no, you don’t need to worry about that anymore. And look at these cheap rates for hydro and gas!”

We looked. While my right eye continued to leak and my left eye started to twitch in sympathy, and The Mister’s arm laid down some pretty good DNA evidence on his shirt sleeve. And I wondered, did it ever once occur to the young man that this might not be the best time?

“So, can I sign you up?” the young man asks eagerly.

“I don’t know,” I say, looking over at The Mister.

“I signed up my mother,” he added.

“He signed up his mother,” The Mister repeats. “His own mother!”

“Yeah, but I still don’t know…”

And then the young man cliches the deal by telling us we have a ten day cooling off period to change our minds, if we decide we want to back out.

“Fine,” I say. “Where do we sign?”

Now, up to this point we might not have been exercising our best judgement, I admit that. But in our defense, we were both injured, and we were both thinking the same thing – that this guy was from Ontario Energy like the last guy, and that somehow Time of Use was no longer in effect, and that he could in fact save us money on our bills which have been high because of this grizzly winter we’ve been experiencing for the past nine months. So we were ready to sign the contracts, but, it pains me to admit, we did not read the contracts. (I know! I know! Settle down!) Everything is done electronically now. There is no paper. So he called up the contracts on his tablet but only the last page showed, where our signatures were needed. The other pages were there, but inaccessible for reading.

“The contracts will be sent to your email,” he assured us before he left, and sure enough they were.

All fourteen pages of them.

And only then did we clue in that this young man was an independent contractor for an energy company, Time of Use has not been done away with, and we were signed up with these guys for the next five years!

After we tended to our wounds, we read the contracts and did a few handy-dandy calculations of our own, and realized that not only would the savings not be that great after adding in transportation and delivery costs, and debt retirement charges and taxes, but in the summer, we would actually be paying much more (nearly double) for gas.

“I want out,” I said to The Mister.

“So do I,” he replied. “But how?”

And then I remembered many years back when I was working my first job after business college, how the patients in the doctor’s office were complaining about how old the magazines were. I saw an ad for Chatelaine’s and thought I could read the magazines and then leave them in the office for the patients. Only I managed to get myself snagged into a five year contract (referred to as 60 months in the fine print), and I felt sick. I told my dad about it at the supper table that night, and he expressed his displeasure.

“Didn’t I teach you better than that?” he demanded.

I was pretty sure Dad hadn’t taught me anything about magazine contracts, but I said, “Well, that’s the situation. What can I do about it?”

“Send a registered letter within 48 hours and the contract is void.”

How did Dad know that? I’m pretty sure he never subscribed to a magazine, but that was the wonder of my father. He knew many, many things.

Anyhoo, flash forward more years than I care to admit, and we sent an email cancelling the contract and informing them to expect a registered letter which would be sent immediately. Shortly thereafter, we received numerous confirmations that our contracts were indeed cancelled, but if we should ever change our minds, they’d love to have us back.

So there’s a happy ending to my sad story. And the moral, well, there’s few of them. Ask questions and keep asking until everything is explained to my satisfaction. Teach The Mister about stranger danger. And thank the good Goddess above for a father who knew many, many things, and passed along a few of the more helpful points to his daughter.

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  1. yu-gi-oh cards
    Posted October 12, 2014 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    I always spent my half an hour to read this blog’s articles everyday along with a mug of coffee.

  2. DortheyWTonai
    Posted July 7, 2015 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Awesome article.

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