Signing a contract with a natural gas marketer

When you sign up with an independent gas marketer as part of the Customer Choice Program, you’re signing a Consumer Agreement which is a legally-binding contract for a term of one to five years. In addition to the information below, we encourage you to read the Customer Choice standard information booklet: it’s your choice—understand your options before you sign a Consumer Agreement.

A few questions to ask before signing an agreement with an independent gas marketer:

  • What’s their price in Canadian dollars per gigajoule of gas?
  • Are there any additional charges?
  • How long is the term of the contract, and what are the renewal conditions?
  • What are the penalties for early termination of the contract?

Signing your contract with a gas marketer: what you need to know

If you choose to buy natural gas from a gas marketer, they’ll give you two documents to sign, and will coordinate a Third Party Verification:

Notice of Appointment of Marketer

By signing this form you give FortisBC permission under privacy legislation to release your consumption history to the gas marketer.

  • This form confirms your desire to participate in Customer Choice and ensures you have agreed to our billing and collections arrangements.
  • This release form also authorizes FortisBC to continue delivering natural gas to your home if your marketer goes out of business.

Consumer Agreement

This legally-binding contract outlines the terms and conditions of the supply agreement between you and the marketer. The essential elements of the offer are outlined including, but not limited to:

  • price per gigajoule in Canadian dollars
  • length of the fixed term (one to five years)
  • renewal provisions
  • terms and penalties for early termination of your Consumer Agreement including the minimum agreement term
  • conditions that may affect the price or term of the offer

Requirements for the Consumer Agreement are outlined in the British Columbia Utilities Commission’s (BCUC) Rules for Gas Marketers and Code of Conduct for Gas Marketers.

Third Party Verification

Your gas marketer is also required to conduct a Third Party Verification (TPV) for door-to-door residential sales. The TPV is a digitally recorded telephone call between you and the gas marketer to confirm your understanding of:

  • the offer
  • the Consumer Agreement
  • the confirmation letter (confirms details of the agreement and identifies the penalty-free cancellation date)
  • your cancellation right
  • If you move to a Customer Choice eligible area, your gas marketer contract will move with you. If you’re not planning on continuing to purchase gas from your gas marketer once in your new home, there may be cancellation charges. Each gas marketer has different terms and conditions, so you’ll need to review the details of your Consumer Agreement.
  • Contact your gas marketer, and contact FortisBC at 1-888-224-2710 as soon as possible to provide details about your move.

Your gas marketer will contact you three months prior to the expiry date for your contract. At this time you can either:

  • re-negotiate the contract,
  • negotiate a new contract with a different marketer, or
  • do nothing and return to FortisBC when your contract expires
If you want to return to FortisBC at the end of your contract, you don’t need to contact FortisBC or your gas marketer. You will be automatically returned to FortisBC when your contract expires. Once this happens, you can simply continue your natural gas service with FortisBC or you can choose to negotiate a new contract with a gas marketer at any time.

10-day cancellation period

Once FortisBC receives notice of your enrolment in the Customer Choice Program from your gas marketer, you’ll have ten calendar days to cancel your agreement without penalty.

  • After you sign an agreement, FortisBC will send you a confirmation letter summarizing the agreement you entered into with the gas marketer. This letter provides the deadline date for contacting your marketer to cancel your agreement without penalty.
  • FortisBC is not responsible for postal delays, so if you think your confirmation letter has been delayed, contact your gas marketer.

Commercial customers may waive their right to a cancellation period.

Cancelling your contract after the 10-day cancellation period

If you’d like to cancel after the 10-day cancellation period, here’s what you need to know:

  • The Consumer Agreement you sign is a legal contract with a specific duration you are bound to, similar to a cell phone plan contract.
  • Your Consumer Agreement contains termination instructions. You can also contact your gas marketer to find out how to terminate your contract.
  • Cancellation charges may apply. Contract penalties and stipulations vary among gas marketers.
  • FortisBC can’t cancel or change a contract on your behalf.
  • If you want to cancel your contract, contact your gas marketer at least 90 days before the 12 month anniversary date. FortisBC requires notification from the marketer at least 30 days prior to the anniversary date.
  • FortisBC does not charge a fee for customers returning to FortisBC’s variable rate.

If a gas marketer fails to meet contractual obligations

When a gas marketer makes a commitment to supply your natural gas, they make a commitment to FortisBC to provide fuel to our pipeline network at an agreed-upon schedule. A short-term failure to meet this supply commitment can lead the BCUC to charge the gas marketer with financial penalties.

Long-term failures, such as a gas marketer filing for bankruptcy, would lead FortisBC to request the BCUC to issue an order returning the customers to FortisBC as the supplier of last resort. In this case, the customer may be required to compensate FortisBC for the cost of bringing them back into the system.

To date, there have been no gas marketer failures under the Program.

Important: in no circumstance will the failure of a gas marketer lead to an interruption of your gas supply.