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Fake News: How to Properly Educate Consumers About Customer Choice


The Energy Marketing Conference hosted a panel last week with energy industry experts to discuss fake new and how to properly educate consumers about consumer choice. Messaging is very important in retail energy. Increasingly we are finding the media distorting the benefits that retail energy providers deliver to customers. In recent years and certainly over the past few months, the industry has received some bad press, some of which might be deserved, but much of which is definitely not.

In a part of the panel discussion, BrokerX's CEO, Brett Jurishi discusses the roles that suppliers, brokers and other stakeholders have within the energy industry. Watch and listen to the video above or read the transcript below to hear what Brett has to say about what protection to consumers should look like.

EMC Panel Discussion Transcript

Michael Gruin, EMC Moderator and Attorney at Stevens & Lee: What role does the retail industry have ..and retail suppliers, brokers and other stakeholders have to not only educate consumers, but protect them from misinformation or false narratives? And what does that protection look like?

Brett Jurishi, CEO of BrokerX: I think that's a great question. Just from an industry standpoint, I think there's two downfalls that consumers need you to hit. One was education and the other is standardization.

Regarding the retail energy process, you can be dealing with Alexandrea [General Counsel for Starion Energy], and they can have a completely different process from a broker side in comparison to Bill [Retail Energy Veteran] and Constellation. So not having a standard process is not always good from the consumer side. And it also brings a lot of false narratives as well because that broker is misinterpreting how they're portraying it to the consumer. So, that doesn't add any more benefit to what we're trying to legitimize within the market education from a competitive landscape to educate consumers that this is a legitimate market.

They have an option to choose who their supplier is. We mentioned before about the competitive states; we've worked across the board on all of the deregulated markets. And truthfully, the two that I can think highly of are Texas, being competitive, which you have to be with the third party supplier and then Pennsylvania. The consumers are educated that they can use a third party supplier. But if you look at Illinois, it goes back to the utility, the utilities not educating the consumer. They're actually delegitimizing it, like we talked about before.

And there's really no high regulatory oversight because there's all this confusion. So when I originally walked into the market, I was fraudulently signed on by a call center. And there was no way to pinpoint or track that. Thankfully, we [BrokerX] were able to rip the audio, show that 80 percent of that audio was doctored, and then work with the Attorney General and the commerce.

So, creating standardization within the sales process actually legitimizes this from the retail energy perspective, from the supplier side to the broker side, that builds more trust between both parties. End all be all, it's really protecting the consumer from the back side because consumers.

You guys were talking a little bit ago about contracts ...some of these contracts I've seen, and we work with upwards to about one hundred and twenty some odd suppliers, are 10 pages long. How many consumers are going to legitimately look through every fragment of that language? You guys are lawyers; you guys understand that. Why can't we simplify it? Why can't we simplify it from a state standpoint based on ...I get products alone, because if it's a fixed energy only rate, you're pass-througing all the capacity and all the ancillary charges. Just make it easier. And I think when it comes to contracts, that brings a lot of consumer confusion to the table.

Michael Gruin, EMC Moderator and Attorney at Stevens & Lee: As someone who dropped a lot of those contracts, a lot of those terms conditions are required by the state ...and the state by state. Alexandrea knows this, too, and a lot of it's meaningless or we're not able to be understood by anybody. But each state has a laundry list of things that they want in their contract, and it makes it just three or four pages of fine print. That doesn't get the true nature of the product across the better.





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