The electricity market is competitive. Companies try to get your business through TV and newspaper ads which promise big savings.
Open the Greensheet and you'll discover several pages of ads for electricity.
-- "Cheap Electricity"
-- "$120 free electricity"
-- "No Deposit"
-- "No late fees"
One advertised, "The lowest Electricity Rates, Everyone is approved."
The ad's fine print stated the provider is Reliant.
Turns out, Reliant didn't place that add, didn't authorize it, and didn't even know about the ad.
Pat Hammond with Reliant explained that Reliant has outsourced vendors hired contractors who, on their own, took out the ad.
Once the sale was made, the consumer was transferred to Reliant.
"The ads and the professional demeanor of the agents on the phone don't meet our standards," Hammond said.
Reliant has since pulled the ads and fired the contractors.
What about the one that advertises $100 free electricity? Is it too good to be true?
Electric Now has an ad for $100 free electricity. Electric Now COO Al Barrios said the consumer gets that $100 over a period of a few months.
Electric Now is one of many growing companies that allow consumers to prepay in advance for their electricity.
"We'll-pay-as-you-go electricity works like a prepaid card. You load your account with amount of funds you are expecting to use," Barrios said.
That's why many pre-pay plans don't require a deposit.
Terry Hadley with the Texas Public Utility Commission advised consumers to really do their homework when they respond to these ads.
"There needs to be, on the ads, the retail provider's certified by PUC," Hadley said.
And you've got to comparison shop. The PUC's "Power to Choose" website is the perfect place to do that: