October 16, 2012 DonnyE

How to Cancel a Hold Switch Hindering Your Electric Service Change Ability

Canceling a hold switch is not an easy thing to do and I would feel bad if I didn’t tell you this from the outset. I don’t want you to read a big long article without knowing this upfront.

Now here are the things to consider, a hold switch happens because someone in your house, apartment, dwelling space had electric service in their name and they decided to default and not pay an electric bill.

This person usually tries to switch to a different electricity provider but they can’t because they have an outstanding balance with a different electric company.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has an extremely efficient method of delivering things in queue for specific electric service addresses. This queue is watched, monitored, and managed by your pole and wires company often called the “electric utility”. In Dallas the electric delivery company is Oncor and in Houston it is Centerpoint.

When you signed up for electric service to begin with it was ultimately up to Oncor if you are in Dallas or Centerpoint if in Houston to turn your electric service on for a particular retail electric company you chose to do business with. So if you decided to choose Champion Energy Services or Ambit Energy you would be at the mercy of Oncor or Centerpoint seeing this switch request in their queue which came down the pipe from ERCOT.  Once they see the request if there is no hold switch or other flag in the system they will turn your electricity on at your address.

From that point on you will have to pay your electric bill to the provider that you chose. ERCOT simply makes sure the correct request gets to the utility and any flags, stipulations, cancellations, terminations, switch holds, turn ons, etc. are clearly displayed in the computer system in such an order that there is no way things can get crisscrossed and happen out of order.

For instance, in the case of the switch hold if you failed to pay your electric bill to the provider and then chose a new electric company to do business with here is what happens. You send your request in probably via a competing providers website asking to be switched to the new provider.

A credit check is performed approving you for service or possibly approving you with the added request that you pay a deposit. Now after this credit check and approval your switch goes through the ERCOT system where things like switch holds are checked against name, phone number, social security number, physical address, and many other things.

When ERCOT finds a switch hold it simply rejects the switch request and the provider is unable to switch you because ultimately the switch request must make it to your electric utility who finalizes the switch to the new electric company.

The quasi-government agency known as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas is where your hold up is and are the people you must convince to remove the switch hold.

So how do you talk directly to ERCOT. You can call them directly but they can’t really help you get that unjust switch hold removed as easily as the Public Utility Commission of Texas can.

You can file a complaint with the PUCT that a provider has unjustly placed a switch hold on your account and explain your reasons and provide all supporting documents and facts. You likely will need to fax in any supporting documents.

You may also want to submit a complaint about any underlying problems that led up to you initially not paying your last months electric bill. Maybe the provider charged you some outrageous fee on your bill and so as a matter of principal you did not pay.

The problem with protesting by not paying your bill is that you are not protesting correctly and so the provider will end up more likely to win the fight if you go about it this way.

If you feel that the electric company has charged you more than they should have you need to immediately file a complaint with the PUCT regarding the unjust charges and fax any supporting documents, advertising, etc to them as well.

With a formal complaint in the works regarding your unjust electric rate you have much more recourse at your disposal if they try and put a switch hold on your account.

It is important to keep paying your electric bill but perhaps do it by sending them a written note detailing the charges you are not going to pay because they are charges that you never agreed to in the original agreement.

You need to also write about any charges on the bill that are just and fair and that you did agree to pay and be sure to write a check covering all charges previously agreed to in the original agreement.

By continuing to pay the fair amount of the electric bill as you see it and as you have explained in your complaint to the PUCT you are showing that you are taking all reasonable methods to uphold your part of the agreement.

You can even use these electric bills you send in with a calculated amount along with protest letter as more evidence as what you are doing to uphold your side of things.

The PUCT will weigh in on these matters and ask the electric company to assist in resolving the dispute with you the customer.

The problem with a switch hold that needs to be cancelled is that rather then the customer going through these initial steps they simply protest by not paying their electric bill.

On top of this a switch hold customer likely has yet to file any type of complaint with the PUCT. Now that things have gotten a little hairy with the switch-hold dilema the customer is left having to explain why they defaulted on their electric bill and never complained about unjust charges in the first place.

There is a bit more of an uphill climb from the customer stand point when you have a switch-hold on you and no PUCT formal complaint on file with a provider but all hope is not lost.

Simply explain in great detail your whole story and provide all supporting evidence that you can round up and fax and email this all in to the complaint email address and fax number as listed on the PUCT website.

The PUCT will review the information and may ask that the provider that has placed the switch-hold resolve this by removing the switch-hold and working out a payment plan for the fair amount that is owed minus any extra fees that were never agreed upon in the outset.

About the Author

DonnyE Donny owns Electricitybid.com and started the website back in 2007 to help energy consumers in Texas and the U.S. shop for electric rates from multiple vetted electric companies. In his spare time he enjoys wrestling with his 6 year old son, 3 year old son and our new 20 month old son. He also likes softball, kickboxing, and doing fun excursions and activities with his wife Melody.

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