Three New Jersey ratepayers filed a class action lawsuit on November 28 in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey against a retail energy provider, alleging that customers who are enrolled in the company’s budget billing plans “often find themselves saddled with several hundreds of dollars in hidden and illegal fees.”
Joshua Little, Samantha Mason, and Gregory Stewart are alleging (Case No. 3:16-cv-08800-PGS-LHG that Ambit Energy Holdings and Ambit Northeast are in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, on the basis of unjust enrichment and other counts; as well as of the state’s Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act.
Chief among the charges:
“Ambit’s website states that the energy company calculates the average monthly amount owed by a budget billing customer and then bills the customer a set monthly rate based on the average rate. However, the website is misleading and fails to disclose that budget billing customers whose energy costs are higher than what they were billed for will carry a balance and will have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in so-called “settlement” charges once they leave Ambit. The website also fails to inform consumers that the energy rate itemized on customers’ monthly bills is not the actual rate that Ambit is charging them.”
Indeed, the plaintiffs say, “Ambit’s budget billing plans mask the company’s exorbitant energy rates by failing to inform customers that their budget payments are not covering all amounts due and misrepresenting the balance customers actually owe. As a result, unsuspecting budget billing consumers … pay Ambit’s monthly bills without knowing that they are accumulating additional charges that Ambit later springs on them.”
According to a December 6 report on Legal NewsLine, an Internet-based newswire dedicated to 24/7 coverage of state supreme courts and state attorneys general, the plaintiffs have requested a trial by jury and are seeking monetary relief, restitution, monetary damages, treble damages, compensatory damages, interest, all legal fees and any other relief as the court deems just.