Wear Withall owner Beth Kastelan got a surprise when she opened a recent natural gas bill.

UPDATED: Price jump reveals fraud on natural gas bill for Creston’s Wear Withall

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  • Jan. 16, 2013 9:00 a.m.

Beth Kastelan did a double take when she opened the natural gas bill for Wear Withall, her Canyon Street clothing shop, this month.

The price for heating the small building had jumped considerably, she said on Friday. Then she noticed a change on her Fortis BC bill. Under “commodity charges” her supplier was listed as Active Renewable Marketing Ltd. and the price per gigajoule was about $10. Fortis BC was charging its own customers $2.977 per gigajoule for the same period.

“I had a five-year contract with a different supplier,” Kastelan said. “It ended last May and I told them I wasn’t renewing it.”

When she contacted Active Renewable Marketing Ltd. she was told she had signed a contract to purchase natural gas from the company. But when she received a copy of that contract, she said it was clearly not her signature. In print beside the signature was the name Beth and the business name, Wear Withall.

After a visit to the Creston RCMP, Kastelan came away with a letter attesting that the signature on the contract did not match that of her BC driver’s licence.

Staff Sgt. Bob Gollan said on Monday that Cranbrook RCMP have been investigating at least two dozen complaints against Active, all of which involve alleged forgery of signatures. Similar complaints have been reported in other BC communities.

On March 8, 2012, the BC Utilities Commission ordered an investigation on Active Energy, which also operates Active Renewable Marketing Ltd.

“Effective immediately, Consumer Protection BC is to perform a compliance inquiry into the allegations of forgery and unauthorized signatures and the steps taken by Active in dealing with these accusations, and provide a report to the commission concerning its investigation and findings,” said a statement from the BC Utilities Commission. “The commission will then determine if any further process is warranted.”

Gollan said an Active spokesperson told police the sales representative involved in Kastelan’s contract was working out of Ontario and has since been dismissed by the company.

He encourages all natural gas consumers to check their Fortis BC bill to ensure that the supplier of their gas is one they have signed a contract with.

The BC Utilities Commission instructs consumers who have problems with suppliers that they should first contact the company involved. If no resolution can be found, consumers should then contact the utilities commission.

UPDATE: On Jan. 28, Kastelan reported that her problem has been resolved. She has received word from the BC Utilities Commission that the contract has been cancelled and that her gas will now be provided by Fortis.

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