Consumerist's Second Job Interview With IDT Energy's Scammy Marketing Firm

The office was decidedly busier on our callback. [Editor's note: this material was written prior to today.] One person was being interviewed while another waited next to us on the sofa. More at ease, we enjoyed our second look at the office. The waiting room walls were covered with pictures of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. “Bigger. Better.” or something like that. The receptionist had a giant stack of papers on her desk and was busy on the phone as pop music blared in the background….


Chris Polke, CEO, quickly emerged. We went back to his office as he complained about the freezing weather. A second interview was needed for several reasons: to talk up the company, walk us through their procedures, and authorize a background check.

As he talked, we took another opportunity to look around. Adorning his shelf were three binders marked “AT&T,” “Verizon,” and “Ad Book,” next to more binders marked “Figueroa Marketing.” Above were several rhinoceros models. There was also a picture of Chris holding what appeared to be one of his offspring.

We were once again given the intro spiel about deregulation, and how Chris has been working to offer consumers a choice. Rather than sell his business, Chris seemed to be going out of his way to prove that he wasn’t evil. He stressed that his fourteen years in business were earned by forming a bond with his customers, and that Midtown Promotions had in place extensive quality control measures. “What would happen,” he asked rhetorically, “if someone had a bad experience? Would they let me sell to them again?” Keeping the customer happy is important. Midtown doesn’t deceive their customers – quite the opposite. They carry badges proclaiming they are IDT representatives and placards declaring they are not from the utility company. More importantly, one of Chris’ rules is “no surprises.” That means the first bill the customer gets has to meet their expectations. Chris didn’t elaborate how he, CEO of Midtown Promotions, ensured that the first bill would meet expectations, but did stress that customers could call anyone – IDT, their salesmen, or him to cancel anytime. If the customer is happy, Midtown gets business from the referrals that the happy customer generates.

…Which doesn’t jive with the reports we’ve heard. People complain about shady salesmen claiming to be from ConEd. Not IDT representatives with placards declaring they’re not from ConEd.

According to Chris, his customers can expect to save up to 7% off their current energy bill. Of course, that’s not the average, but it can be up to 7%! ConEd even wants us to switch – why else would they offer us tax incentives for switching?

Chris explained that IDT’s own procedures ensured that customers were switching out of desire, not pressure. He showed me a form that declared in big letters “Switch & Save.” Customers had to sign the form, which declared all the sorts of thing you’d want a customer to declare: that they know they’re talking to IDT, not their utility company; that they have three business days to cancel (requirement of state law); that the price of energy fluctuates and some bills might be higher than others; that they have not been pressured or coerced and all that good stuff.

The most common question is: “will I be leaving ConEd?” Somehow, the answer is no. See, you’re not leaving your local utility; ConEd still transports your energy. You’re switching suppliers. Chris wasn’t sure why the form said “Switch & Save.” ConEd transports the energy IDT supplies. On top of that, according to Chris, IDT is able to generate savings by buying energy when it’s cheap and storing it for later.

A customer signing up for IDT through Midtown doesn’t just sign a form. That would be too easy. Each switcher has to sign the “Switch & Save” confirmation form; that form lists the customers contact information, which is used by Chris’ “quality control unit.” Each customer gets a call from the “quality control unit” to ensure that they actually want to switch, and to answer any questions that might remain. Once they’re confirmed, they get a welcome letter from IDT and a goodbye note from ConEd.

Great, so we don’t really scam people. We’re honest salespeople trying to make a living. But before we could be hired and sent out to observe, Midtown needed to make sure they weren’t being scammed. They needed to check our background. Once we were verified as clean, they would bring us back for formal training. We asked if there was anything we could review in the meantime – policies or sales materials to study? Everything in the training, it turns out, is on the Public Services Commission website. They weren’t sure when they could have us back. 90% of their representatives work on the IDT account, and for some reason, IDT has ordered them to freeze all hiring. Chris thought it was because they were coming close to hitting their ceiling, which isn’t, he stressed, a sales quota.

We took the background check form and went back to the waiting room to fill it out. We handed the form to the receptionist and noticed that the stack of papers on her desk were forms marked “Switch & Save.” We thanked the quality control unit and left…

We never did get a call back… let’s just say we made a mistake on the application… We’ll get it right next time though…

Previously:
Your Questions About Our Interview With IDT Energy’s Scammy Marketing Firm Answered
Consumerist’s Job Interview With IDT Energy’s Scammy Marketing Firm

Comments

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  1. rubberpants says:

    Maybe they’re on to you.

  2. kerry says:

    Are you sure these are the only people selling IDT in New York, or could there be a scummier group doing the less legit stuff? If so, would you be able to infiltrate their organization?

  3. markymags says:

    Maybe you can channel Jack Bauer and infiltrate this evil organization… you can start by researching past seasons of 24.

  4. Ben Popken says:

    There’s at least two others that we know of. We’re not licked yet.

  5. nick says:

    There was also a picture of Chris holding what appeared to be one of his offspring.

    I think I laughed a little too hard when I read this.

    (it must have been the mention of rhino models in the previous sentence) :)

  6. homerjay says:

    I got the same inkling that Kerry got soon after I got the same inkling that rubberpants got. He seemed to explain to you everything that he wanted you to post.
    Then again, what kind of potential employer would tell an interviewee that they were in business to scam people.

  7. humphrmi says:

    I also read that they’re on to you. But there’s another angle too…

    I worked a door-to-door sales job, lo some 25 years ago. I was one of those annoying people who came to your door and starting spraying liquid cleaner on everything in site that had a smudge on it.

    When I interviewed, it was all honesty and integrity. When I got placed in a crew, the real world set in. And if you asked any questions about honesty and integrity, they reminded you of your quotas and told you that you had one job to do – sell cleaners.

    I could go either way on this, but I still suspect that if you *do* get past the interview process and get a route, you’ll learn a lot more about IDT’s real business practices.

  8. Jesse in Japan says:

    How the hell do you buy energy when it’s cheap and store it for later? I thought that defied the laws of thermodynamics.

  9. Kung Fu Cantona says:

    In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!

  10. Zatos says:

    Is there an award for internet content like this?

  11. Trai_Dep says:

    There was also a picture of Chris holding what appeared to be one of his offspring.

    Spawn. The word is spawn. Humans and other creatures sun-kissed by the gods are born, or have offspring. Nafarious, melavolent spirits, cast down by these same gods to the infernal pits of Hades have spawn.

    Geez, people, buy a thesaurus!

  12. Trai_Dep says:

    Jesse:

    They have vast swimming pools that they place the energized electrons for later use. Either that or they got a really good deal on laptop batteries.

  13. bndocksnt says:

    This sounds like the standard issue pitch you should expect from a company like this. Most people don’t want to work for a company that openly admits to scamming people, so…

  14. mycomment says:

    I worked for Midtown Promotions for many years and I can assure that they are not a scam. Everything they promote is absolutely true. Like any company they are not perfect but overall its a GREAT company. If you really understand how this business works, it all makes sense. All the information that they explain to customer regarding their ConEd account is true. Before you say that they are lying to costumers, I suggest you call ConEd or IDT and have them explain how it works and if you do not have time to call them, look in your bills…They usually send you brochures explaining how you can switch your carrier and the options you have about choosing what companies you want to use. Upper level Managers and top leaders are trained by the clients such as IDT, Verizon and any other client they have worked with on the past. The information they provide to the customers are not pulled out of their ass, its information given to them by the actual company they are marketing for. Now like any company in the world, wether they do tele-marketing or door-to-door, will always have a representatives that may not inform the customer correctly, we’ve all had that expierence one way or another. If that is the case, the representative is automatically terminated. That is why they have quality controls reps. After the representative signs a customer up, they get a phone call the following day from a quality control rep to make sure that the representative explained everything correctly and that the customer understood everything. Before the order is sent out, they make sure that the customer is happy with his/her decision. Now, you tell me about a company that has 100% happy customer, has never gotten a complain…There is no such thing..so yeah wether is a company that Midtown P works with or any company out there, there will always be an unhappy customer but we can’t all please the world, can we? anyway I can write and write and write about this.I suggest before you try to make this company look so bad and not legit. You really do your research and understand how this door-to-door company works. I can not speak for other door-to-door companies but I can tell you that there are more than one in NYC and some of them have done a lot of scams to make a quick buck and due to those companies, Midtown Promotions has to suffer. After working with Midtown Promotions for years, I have been able to take some time off (more than 2 years) and enjoy life. It wasn’t easy…It’s hard work and yeah its all based on commission…But if you work hard, if you understand the business, if you educate your self on this type of work, there are no reasons why you couldn’t be successful with Midtown Promotions. It’s not a pyramid, its not a scam, its a business that works and its a business where if you apply yourself ..YES…you can be a manager in 9 months. If you can’t apply yourself than there are few things that will happen, ONE… you will quit…Blame the company cause we all know its easier to blame others for your failure or you will walk away with so much knowledge, that no matter what job you might get, you will be able to apply everything you’ve learned at Midtown Promotions or you can keep learning, growing professionaly and personally after a year or 2, you can be promoted to upper-level-management. Midtown Promotions doesn’t just promote you because you’ve been there 9 months, you have to work hard, you have to earn it. I have seen some of the managers get promoted in less than a year and I have seen some get promoted after 2 years, there are 2-3 people that were there for more than 2 years and never made it passed as a supervisor, they just did not have what it took to manage an office. You have to prove to the company that you can manage one of the offices. You have to cross-train in all the departments of the company, including answering the phones, being a secretary,…..In Some companies it takes you years and years to make it to the top, others can take a 1-3 years, it depends on the company and their policies. Its not easy to run a office in Midtown, its hard work, its not for everyone but if you have in you, if you can apply yourself, you understand the business, There is no reason why you couldn’t be successful at Midtown Promotions.

  15. snowferret says:

    Made a mistake? What did you guys do?

  16. jacques says:

    trai, I hope those aren’t Sony batteries….

  17. RPG-Advocate says:


    More dirt connecting Midtown Promotions to known scam DS MAX:

    http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/ripoff107019.htm

    Note this line: “I have something funny for the guy who posted about Midtown promotions. The person that interviewed you,Fadia, is just the secretary. LOL. The real guys are Chris, whom i recently just saw and another owner named Sayel. Sayel is okay on a whole.”

    Another link suggesting Chris Polke has a connection to DS MAX:

    http://groups.msn.com/DSMAXTheAftermath/alumni.msnw?action

  18. LeopardSeal says:

    @mycomment

    Imagine that, making all that money and still not knowing what a paragraph is.

  19. yordad says:

    Horrible. All opinion.”Badges proclaiming they are IDT reps” and “placards declaring they are not from the utility company”. Forms saying “Switch and Save”? Yeah, sounds like impersonating a Coned employee to me too. Actually, sounds like your wrong. “Somehow the answer is no” when people ask “Will I be leaving coned?” Are you really that blind? Coned owns the powerlines to your home and the meter in your basement. You CANNOT leave Coned. It is physically impossible. That is how the answer is “No”.
    The simple fact of the matter is, you can train your door reps all you want, but you can’t watch them as they talk to customers. That is why you underwent a background check. It isn’t IDT or the advertising ferms conning people. It is some individual door reps wanting to make more commision. It is the door reps fault, not IDT’s. IDT has done all they can to train and check every employee, I’m sure.
    And BTW, it is a variable rate. That is how customers can’t be guarenteed 7%. If you could predict the commodities market, you wouldn’t be wasting time typing this. Nobody can predict the market and guarentee a savings.
    And as I’ve said in other post, not only is IDT’s Gas significantly lower then Coned’s and Keyspan’s their gas and electric is regularly cheaper than local utility companies all over NYS.
    If anyone is misleading customers, it is you.

  20. Naty says:

    @ mycomment- “That is why they have quality controls reps.”

    i used to work for a marketing company as well, instead of IDT, i worked for Smart Energy (its basically the same thing). i dont know about you, but the “quality control rep” that called the customers back in the office i worked for was the secretary.

  21. Anonymous says:

    You will find that Watts Marketing Service (wms.inc) Chris Polke and Edward Girard (EGC LTD LLC) are all intertwined and know each other on personal levels. Usually Edward Girard ( a known felon) is running most campaigns these 2 others are doing. They usually run IDT, ConEd, ATT…. campaigns.

    Edward Girard is the money man, he will setup the offices or coordinates with them to get offices. Edward girard is a known drug user that uses his profits from business to disappear for weeks at a time usually to go into drug using spirals.

    most of these guys know each other due to the drug factor.