Your Consumer Rights in Massachusetts

Whenever you buy any product or service, it's important to be aware of your consumer rights. If you are unsatisfied with what you paid for or you don't receive what you were promised, you need to know how to correct it. This is also true when you select an energy provider, and you might have complaints about the service you receive. When dealing with energy providers in Massachusetts, you need to know your rights and how you can enforce them. Fortunately, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs both help to make your rights clearer.

Discounted Utility Rates

One of the important things to note is that energy providers in Massachusetts must offer discounted rates to people on public assistance benefits who meet income limits. However, energy provided by municipal departments don't have to offer these rates, although some do.

Winter Moratorium

During the winter, protection is provided for residents struggling with their utility bills. From November 15 to March 15, your heating cannot be shut off if you can't pay for it. Charges will continue to accrue, but you can contact your energy company to work out a payment plan. There are also resources available to help vulnerable people pay their heating costs.

Utility Shut-offs

The threat of having one of your utilities shut off is stressful and worrying. Fortunately, there are protections and information to help you. You can contact the Attorney General's Consumer Hotline. They may be able to provide services to assist you. It's also important to be aware of when your heating cannot be shut off. If all adults in the house are over 65, one of the residents is seriously ill, or there is a child under one living there, heating can't be switched off.

Contact Your Energy Supplier

Before you make a formal complaint about your energy supplier, you should make an effort to contact them. It's important to try and resolve the issue with them first instead of complaining to the Department of Public Utilities straight away. You might be a little unsure about contacting your energy supplier. If you're angry or upset, it's easy to get emotional or not know what to say. Writing a complaint can help you to express what you want to say clearly. You can even find useful templates online that might be helpful.

Making a Complaint

If you have a complaint about MA electric suppliers or gas companies, you can easily file it online. The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs offers an online complaint form, which is easy to fill out. You can also print out a form and mail or fax it to the Department of Public Utilities. They offer a phone option too, including a toll-free number you can use. Having a choice of ways to make your complaint means you can do it when you have the time. Whether you prefer to speak to someone over the phone or fill out a form online or by hand, you can choose the method that suits you.