Matthew Stabley

Maryland Homeowner Says Third-Party Gas Supplier Doubled Her Rate Without a Contract

A Maryland homeowner only found out she was getting her gas from a third-party supplier after receiving what she felt was an exorbitant bill in January.

Karen Franklin, who has lived in her Fort Washington home for 24 years, said her typical gas bill in winter is $200, but that jumped this winter.

“I think the bill was for like $341, and I looked at it and I was like, 'Why is this so much?'” she said.

She looked at the back of the bill.

“I saw this little, tiny print,” she said. “It said ‘Smart One Energy.’”

Franklin immediately called Washington Gas.

“And I said, 'Well, who are they? And when did I change? Because I have no recollection of ever signing a contract with them,'” she said.

Franklin was told Smart One has been supplying her gas for a year. She also found out the rate she was paying was more than twice what Washington Gas charges.

Furious, she picked up the phone and called Smart One Energy.

“They tell me, 'Well, you have to talk to a supervisor. Someone will call you back within 24-48 hours,'” Franklin said.

But no one did, she said. Its website has said “temporarily unavailable” since January, Franklin said.

NBC4 Responds reached out to Washington Gas and Smart One Energy.

“All of a sudden now, someone finally calls me after months of not hearing from anybody,” Franklin said.

Smart One couldn't find any record of a signed contract from Franklin and agreed to cancel her account. They also offered to send her a check.

“He said something about, 'Well, if we give you the $95, you can't make a claim against us,' but once again, there's nothing in writing,” Franklin said.

She also heard from Washington Gas.

“He told me that he believes that Smart One engaged in the practice they call ‘slamming,’ and from what he seemed to explain to me, they just grab a list of customers and assign the customers to their company,” Franklin said.

In a statement to NBC4 Responds, Smart One denied slamming customers and said it honors cancellation requests in a timely manner.

Washington Gas won't confirm the slamming accusation but said it’s also heard from other customers having a hard time canceling with Smart One.

Franklin’s next bill should show she's no longer with Smart One. Washington Gas also offered her a $250 credit. But she hasn’t received the $95 from Smart One.

“I'll tell you, I'll believe I'll get the $95 when I see the check,” Franklin said.

Smart One said it is up to Washington Gas to process the cancellation once a request is made.

Washington Gas said it can take one or two billing cycles for the change to appear on the bill.

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