Consumerist Undercover At IDT Energy: The Confession

After only three days with Midtown Promotions, I could already tell that I’d wait weeks, maybe months or a full year before coming upon hard evidence of fraud, if I found any evidence at all. After leaving James and Doreen in the Bronx, I took the afternoon off and went to work on these diaries.

This is part 7 of our undercover investigation into IDT Energy, an energy reseller in the New York area…


While I transcribed all the recordings, ads I’d put out looking for information on Midtown and their business practices were beginning to circulate and attract attention. My first and only solid lead was borne out of the response by a guy I’ll call “Vega.” Vega claimed to have firsthand knowledge of the shady practices of Midtown Promotions, but he refused to go into any detail without meeting in person. His schedule sounded strange— he appeared to be either unemployed or rich, since he said he didn’t need to be out working if he didn’t feel like it.

We met at a pizza parlor in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn. I’ll refrain from details about his appearance and say only that he was wearing a T-shirt that said “Bronx” on it. He carried nothing with him, his ex-girlfriend having smashed up his PDA the night before. He seemed vulnerable because of this, but not afraid.

He told me that he had worked for Midtown in the past, and gave me some dates (which matched with his earlier statements.) He seemed pretty open to whatever I wanted to know, and had lots to say about Midtown’s relationship with IDT.

“I did that. I did IDT for a while. [Midtown] will bring in marketing people, they teach you what to say, how to do it, when to do it. You go out to the territory; you go where you gotta go to get the money.” He went on, covering mainly what I’d already learned. “They make you an independent contractor, they make you sign the forms. They tell you do what you gotta do.”

“Did they say that? ‘Do what you gotta do to make the sale?'”

He said that they are reminded repeatedly to follow the manager’s instructions, but many are so desperate to make a sale, they don’t care.

“So, did you see people wearing the uniforms?”

He answered in the affirmative, and mentioned having seen people in Con Ed hats and other outerwear.

“When you saw people in Con Ed stuff, where were they? Were they in the office of Midtown Promotions? Did they arrive there dressed like that?”

“No, nobody.”

“So how do you know they were doing it?”

“Well, basically, once you get in the field, it’s different.” Vega stopped for a moment then backtracked. He started to explain how few of his co-workers were educated and wise in the ways of ethics and marketing. “They think everything they should do is for the dollar, that it doesn’t matter what their company tells ‘em, that it’s what the individual does that counts. So, when the individual goes out in a Con Ed hat, the company just says, ‘Well, we didn’t train them that way.'”

I told him that I’d been with IDT for a week and that I didn’t notice anything immorally deceptive, other than questionable pitches. “When you were out there,” I asked, “You were just dressed professionally, with your tie, whatever. Where did other people put on their stuff? Was it on the subway…?”

“When you work with somebody else, sometimes they’d just throw on a shirt.” He speculated that the workers had found or had made their own Con Ed patches and put them on some cheap blue work shirts that made them look like they were utility employees. “Or they’d go buy something that said Con Edison on it.” But he said he wasn’t positive how the fraudsters came about the gear, only that he certainly saw multiple employees in the field in the finished getup.

“Did anybody ever talk about it, in the office?” I mentioned several employees’ names to see if it would jar any memories of wrongdoing by higher-ups.

“No, they always talked about it every day, about how we weren’t supposed to do that. They could tell you in the office… but once you leave, you’re an independent contractor…”

I tried a different angle. Did he know anyone specifically who knew about the fake (or real) Con Ed uniforms or wore them personally?

Unfortunately, he claimed he couldn’t remember any specific names of employees who had committed fraud. Perhaps he was afraid of something at this point. He seemed to clam up for the first time in that half hour. I wondered if he was feeling protective of Midtown all of a sudden.

Look, he said, “I know there’s gotta be a certain reason you’re going after [Midtown], but they’re a legitimate company. The only thing is… the representatives, some of them, are no good. They need to hire people who can really do the jobs and pay them a little more. But IDT is not going to pay them [enough].”

Finally, I asked, “Definitively… have you seen people you know are employees of Midtown Promotions, wearing Con Ed uniforms?”

“Sometimes. Yes.”

I went to the office to confront my manager.

E: So, what’s up, buddy?
B: So, Eric, I wanted to talk to you in private…
E: Yeah. You disappeared…
B: Well, there’s a couple reasons why. I was sick on Friday, that is true. But… the one thing I’d like to ask you about… there are people working here that are doing things that are obviously… fraudulent.
E: Meaning…?
B: They are wearing Con Ed attire.
E: Con Ed attire?
B: Yes.
E: What’re you talking about?
B: Well, actually, I’m a journalist—

His eyes bulged, but he immediately recovered and took this in slowly.

E: Uh huh.
B: And I’ve been investigating this for a long time now… and we’ve received tips that it was this company… and I met with someone who used to work here and he was willing to speak on the record, and I have a recording that…
E: …wearing Con Ed attire?
B: They were wearing actual shirts with the words Con Edison on them.
E: Do you have… someone in here now?
B: He doesn’t know, he doesn’t work here anymore, so he isn’t sure if those people are still working here… He said that they would leave here and that they would acquire a grey or whatever color Con Ed shirts are… and then they would have a patch made based on the logo.
E: And why would that not be brought to my attention from [before]…? Because I know that they’ve got their grey shirts that say IDT, the IDT laminate, the IDT card. Never heard about Con Ed, never got any complaints, never heard anything of that nature.
B: So, all this stuff about ‘don’t misrepresent yourself as Con Ed,’ that’s just from your own fears that someone will do something like this?
E: Well, when you deal with different reps, unfortunately, with different locations, you have 60, 70 reps out there… I’d love to be able to see that people do things by the book, but… when you do have complaints that come through the human resource department, you get rid of that person. You understand? People going out, using the Con Ed, Keyspan name to get a sale, that’s totally wrong.
B: Would you be in trouble if IDT received complaints about employees here?
E: If I found out that that person had a Con Ed shirt on, I’d get rid of them in a heartbeat.
B: No, I mean, would Midtown be in trouble with them—
E: I don’t understand what you’re saying…
B: What I mean is: If someone were to get in trouble and IDT were to receive complaints, do they come down on you guys?
E: They’d call us to look into the matter… one hundred percent… because they contract us to do their marketing for them… to a hundred percent. If we have a fraudulent rep out there, we’re not going to just [let them] keep going out there and signing applications. That’s misleading, that’s totally contradictory to everything IDT stands for. When you have two or three locations out there, and you have locations that aren’t affiliated with us that are here in the city that represent for IDT, too, that we have no control over…
B: Okay. So, just to be clear, you’ve never heard of this… with the shirt?
E: No.
[I tell him there are articles in the Consumerist alluding to the fact that this company at this location has sent those scammers out in the field. I also mentioned that the scammers, except for the part where they replace their affiliation with the name “Con Ed,” is almost the word-for-word pitch of Midtown reps. He said that if anybody used the Con Ed or Keyspan name to identify themselves, they would be immediately terminated. “If say to say,” he added, “On my side, I haven’t had too many issues” with employees bending or breaking the rules.]

E: …I have nothing to do with what the [Midtown] offices outside of [this one] do… I have no control over that. They’re independent offices… but as far as our side is concerned, we rarely hear about someone coming across as misrepresenting themselves. But when we find out about it, because they’re independent and, a lot of times, they could be out there saying the wrong, doing the wrong things… I’m not gonna deny that… but it only comes back to us if someone complains to IDT…

DS-Max

Eric denied that Midtown is owned by DS-Max. He knew of DS-Max, having worked there for 16 or 17 years, but he claims that they are independent entities.

E: That’s a big company… Nothing wrong with it… they do an unbelievable job [with] the concepts that they do. But we’re independent, so we got nothing to do with them. I know they’re in the city as well, I know they’re in Long Island…
B: Do you think it’s possible that they, because, the pitches are very similar, that it’s possible that it’s not Midtown, that it’s a DS-Max affiliate that has an IDT contract?
E: No, I think they’re also independent, too. I don’t think DS-Max is involved with IDT at all.

He deflected some more criticism by saying Topline, out of Queens, also dos the same work for IDT.

E: Did you find any beef…?
B: The guy who used to work here— he was out with people who put on the shirt. He saw this while he was here…
E: How long ago was this?
B: …about three months ago when I saw it… and I don’t want to give too much detail that might reveal who he is, but it was sometime in the last two to six months that he left [Midtown.]
E: …Well, we like to say that everything goes well out in the field until you bring something like this to my attention… we want to make sure there’s no other guys doing that. Maybe it was a guy in the past, and there was a complaint [about something unrelated] and we had to let him go, and we never found out about the t-shirt. …Maybe it’s from another location.
B: The people that he saw were from this location.
E: Unfortunately, I can’t have anything to say about that… I can’t vouch for that, I’ve never heard of it…. I mean, I let guys go on two warnings on using [the name] Con Ed. What do you think I’d do about the t-shirt? And I pray to God that none of these guys here are affiliated with that t-shirt.
B: It’s possible those people are gone…
E: [Bad] things that happen, you gotta let ‘em go. Because if you don’t, it makes your business look bad. I think if it was really that bad, the commission would’ve shut us down a long time ago. They send guys like you in, checking it out… you know, I’ve got nothing to hide… honestly, I know about the Consumerist, I know about the [intern] that came in, I had a feeling you were with them, I’m not playing games anymore. I’m just putting it out in the open. The more we hide games, the more you guys wanna run with things. [Could be a slipup or just a poor choice of words… but interesting nonetheless.] And you got in here firsthand, and you saw they aren’t… switching the badges or whatever… I wish I had a camera on all these guys, making sure they’re doing all the right things…

And later…

E: I’ve seen the pictures, I’ve seen [the intern’s] write-up… and all honesty, as a business grows… expands… it’s like anything… you’re gonna have some people that are gonna do some wrong things in the field… you can’t make everybody happy. As long as at the end of the day, we have people out there doing the right thing, I can go to sleep good… It’s usually the newer guys,” he said, echoing the same point Vega made, “that aren’t as educated… as up-and-running with the program.”

Eric went on to admit that he’d worked for “shady direct sales companies” in the past, but wouldn’t name them. It is worth noting the following three things: he mentioned that he worked for DS-Max for either 16 or 17 years, claims to have a total of 16 or 17 years in sales, and that Vega does not remember him working there from just a few short months ago.

After the recorder was off, Eric described attacks on his business practices as being similar to attacks on journalists, trying to put it into perspective. “It’s like if someone sued a reporter for defamation. That would suck.” I wasn’t clear what he meant, but I could tell what he was getting at, whether he was conscious of his deeper meaning or not.

Before I left Midtown, I went on Eric’s computer to show him some of the other articles about IDT on the Consumerist’s site. Sure enough, as I began typing c-o-n in the browser, consumerist.com immediately came up. It was also in the top ten most recently visited sites in his browser. He claimed not to have checked the site “in three, four months.”

The truth is: guilty or not, Midtown Promotions is a shady bunch of shysters. Guilty or not, they’re guilty of creating an atmosphere.

Eric would say I have no evidence linking Midtown to those guys in the Con Ed uniforms. Carl would say that must be some other company, and wash his hands of the whole thing. James would say I was harping on the negative.

But what I see is not just a systematic problem. I see a company called DS-Max that manipulates its employees, practices unsavory business methods, and makes sure everyone is obedient, for if they were to leave, they would be in debt and possibly homeless. I see devoted employees leaving such a company, and not seeing anything worth changing. I see them start Midtown Promotions, DS-Max in everything but name. Sure, we could’ve skipped the in-the-field work and just approached them with Vega’s statements, but the real evidence backing up Vega is what I saw: the brainwashing, the unsupervised workers, the overlong days and weeks, the desperation to make just one more sale, and so forth.

Then I see IDT Energy, a rejoicing bunch of corporate opportunists based out of the magical Newark, New Jersey, hearing the news that Con Ed has been deregulated, and deciding to hire an unknown company called Midtown Promotions (or Figueroa Marketing, depending on whether or not you read the plaque on Eric’s wall or the directory outside the office door.) I see IDT Energy, hearing of complaints from outlets such as the Consumerist and its readers. I see them, completely oblivious to complaints about the fraudulent activities of its affiliated sales people, not even (it seems) deeming it worthy of mention to Eric or anyone else at Midtown.

Midtown Promotions, incredulous that someone would take things too far when they are already pushed to the breaking point, that the sell is so desperately driven home that the seller, too, becomes desperate. Midtown Promotions, unfazed by their own role in the event that their charges, when left to their own devices, cross the line.

Midtown Promotions, sure that it wasn’t their location on West 30th that sent those disgraceful, misguided, and potentially forgivable bastards out into the field without enough pep talk about fraud to stop their wicked ways.

Midtown Promotions, DS Max, Eric, owner Chris Polke, or the whole system, may be ignorant of the goings-on, but they are guilty just the same.

I watched as James got more aggressive with each door-knock, with each hour that went by without huge sales, wondering if he would end up out in the field with a guy who brought along an extra phony Con Ed uniform, if he’d be the guy in the blue shirt who one day knocks on your door with great news… —BRIAN FAIRBANKS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Day One
2. The Job Interview
3. The Day Of O
4. Let’s Get Juiced
5. The Meeting
6. The Meltdown
7. The Confession

(Photo: Getty)

Note: No definitive ties have been established between Midtown Promotions and DS-MAX/Innovage.

Comments

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  1. rmz says:

    So you didn’t get the big break that you were looking for, oh well — but it was still nice that you were able to reveal yourself to management in the end and confront them directly about the complaints that you were investigating.

    Thanks for writing up these seven stories — they’ve been interesting to follow, even if not the groundbreaking exposé people may have been expecting.

  2. gondaba says:

    Huh, it really sounds like Midtown isn’t that bad. I mean, sure the whole multi-tiered marketing system designed to leave the peons screwed, but it doesn’t really look like it’s Midtown’s fault that the contractors are donning Con Ed shirts and hats. It’s just a ploy for the contractors to get more money. If you were desperate, you would too…

  3. HeySuburbia says:

    @gondaba

    I totally agree with you. Back when I was 15 I worked for a telemarketing company that raised money for police, firefighters, ect. and we were always instructed to say the name of the telemarketing company we worked for when calling people and would get in trouble if we didn’t, but there were always those people who would allude to being an actual police officer or fire fighter calling people for donations, which would of course get you WAY more donations and increase the commission you brought in. The company I worked for never told us to do this, but when you’re commission based like that the employees will do whatever they can to make extra money.

  4. enm4r says:

    I don’t think it was necessary to turn this into a 7 piece story. I would have expected that any prolonged story like this have something to reveal at the end, and it’d didn’t. Great story, good information, I just don’t think the presentation was best suited for the material at hand.

    That said, I look forward to more investigations like this from consumerist.

  5. formergr says:

    I’m curious as to why the “Meltdown” installment was removed from the site?

  6. gondaba says:

    @formergr: it wasn’t, its right here

  7. Wormfather says:

    So just so you know, Eric could be commenting right here on this story.

    Just so me food for thought.

  8. jurgis says:

    There is a good bit of conjecture in the writeup, but that’s fine.

    I think that the whole “sales attitude” is a bit like a runaway freight train. You can only grow a business so much. There are only so many people in the world. Being a scientist/engineer it’s hard to see value in things that aren’t “creation” or explicitly helping people. So admittedly, I’m biased. We need sales people, but the old adage holds true “the capitalist can’t bake good bread” (this is more in reference to the ‘grow the business’ model than simple capitalism… out of context and all that).

  9. mikyrok says:

    I like that he suspected that you were with the consumerist and he knew about the intern, that makes it all the better. Good conclusion when it seemed there was no hope to save this story. Bravo.

  10. Kifune says:

    @gondaba: It wasn’t removed but it no longer shows up on the page with the rest of the day’s posts or in links from the previous installation.

  11. TedSez says:

    Seriously, that’s it?

  12. ancientsociety says:

    Okay, so it took 6 installments for us to learn from some anonymous “source”, that this is mostly individual salespeople acting on their own?

    Great investigation but tell me again why we needed Brian’s lead-up for this?

  13. jerrynorton says:

    Good series of articles. And you worked hard to get the info. I’d rather you tell it like it is than to try to ‘create’ news. This might not have turned out to be the big story you’d hoped for – and honestly we’d hoped for, too – but you worked hard and you told it like it was. Keep up the good work!

  14. alk509 says:

    I want my ten bucks back!

  15. EnderVR46 says:

    I enjoy the Consumerist but this bit reeks of an amateur mess. Admittedly, I haven’t been following the entire story leading up to this investigative piece. But the fact that the guy at Midtown knew to expect someone from the Consumerist ruins any chance of making any type of revelation into their practices. He could have easily changed the rules and alerted his employees until he felt the coast was clear.

    Relying on an anonymous source at the last minute isn’t enough. Not to mention the lack of time you actually spent in the field. For this to have worked, you would have had to have made no mention of any sort about plans or even ideas to send in a reporter.

    This story is inconclusive at best, and seriously undermines any future investigative articles you may come out with.

  16. ADM says:

    so no earth-shattering revelations, but the series did give us a great, first-person window into how this works. this was an untold story before consumerist latched onto it and sent brian undercover.

    eric’s reasoned response is interesting to me. usually you read about people in those kinds of situations flipping out, talking about lawsuits, etc. i like that he took the time to explain his perspective.

    brian is right that sales-driven environments are always going to bring out the worst in people. sure, they created the environment, but as long as they respond when people break the rules, there’s not much you can argue for. i don’t mean to sound like an apologist — i hate predatory practices and the methods as described in previous posts is certainly at least borderline unethical, but but it doesn’t seem like midtown is really doing anything on an institutional level that is much worse than what other sales orgs do.

    anyway, nice job on the story. i look forward to more.

  17. AcidReign says:

    …..All of the installments are still on the feed. I enjoyed the series. It was, perhaps, unrealistic to expect that a new employee would be able to get all the inside dirt in a few days, without doing resorting to serious illegal methods. Hats off to Consumerist. They could just do nothing but sit at home and link to newspaper sites.

    …..I suspect that the situation at Midtown is just a microcosm of life in the direct selling world. It’s a brave new world in hiring practices, tax-dodges, independent contractors, temp agencies, etc. It’s all designed to be cheap for the owner, and offer multiple layers of plausible deny-ability. “I didn’t know they were illegals. I didn’t know they weren’t paying their taxes. I didn’t know they were wearing Con-Ed shirts.”

    …..These sorts of outfits are replicating like cockroaches all across the country, with no end in sight. Plenty of suckers on both ends of the street-sales equation, regrettably.

  18. EnderVR46 says:

    On the other hand, the article does give a nice perspective into this world. Nothing that wasn’t obvious, but nicely summed up in a fun to read article.

    These guys remind me of those “White Van Speaker Scams” that I once interviewed at. Just one step more honest than the speaker guys.

  19. gondaba says:

    @Kifune: Stop being so paranoid, it’s right here and here and here.

  20. iMike says:

    I feel a little blue balled.

  21. taylorich says:

    YYAAWWWWWNNNN. NEXT!

  22. Hawk07 says:

    Good job! Enjoyed the series! Ignore the people that jumped on you for reporting the people you came into contact with and what you saw.

  23. formergr says:

    @gondaba: Thanks, my mistake. Don’t know how I missed it– I even tried doing a search!

  24. jwarner132 says:

    Definitely anti-climactic. :(

    Oh well, this isn’t fiction, and it’s not Brian’s fault that none of the people wore ConEd uniforms in front of him.

    I think the bottom line is, like other people have said, that since these places are commission-based, some salesman are going to do anything and everything it takes to make the sale.

  25. IAmMissJackie says:

    I just started working for a Cydcor office. It is exactly how you described it in my office. Reading all this has scarred me to death. I sent an email to you guys, still waiting for a reply.

  26. queenmizz says:

    zzzzzzzzzzzzz

  27. zolielo says:

    I agree it was anticlimactic. Hopefully the author and Consumerist learn from some of the mistakes committed in the course of the investigation.

  28. Marsupial says:

    Ok, now that the story is complete, no one can say, again, to wait for the last part. I’m sorry, but that took seven days (and long posts) to write basically seven paragraphs, if that, of information. What it boiled down to was this: I got a job at IDT to find out what they do. I interviewed, got the job, became an I/C, went to meetings, hit the street to get sign-ups, didn’t like the door-to-door thing, and walked off. Then I talked to someone who says he used to work there who said it was shady. I took that info to my old boss, and he said it’s not.

    Wow, what a spectacular piece of investigative journalism. Murrow would be proud.

    Seriously, I love the Consumerist, but this has actually damaged by opinion of the site. To go through that much build-up for essentially nothing is very disappointing.

  29. William Mize says:

    Ah. So this is why I removed The Consumerist from my RSS feed. Shark to Fonzie, come in please.

  30. ediebeale says:

    Seems

  31. ediebeale says:

    S

  32. ediebeale says:

    An

  33. ediebeale says:

    Sorry for the totally random one-word posts, there’s something crazy going on with my keyboard. Anyhow, this was a good idea in theory and a good attempt on the part of the Consumerist to get in there, but it seems like they picked a writer who had a lot of ego about the whole thing, thought he was going in to make a big splash and wanted the story to go a certain way, and when it didn’t, got frustrated and jumped ship. We got some good info, but also a lot of meaningless non-information, and this probably could have been done in three posts, if that. Still, kudos for the effort, hopefully we’ll get some more after this trial run.

  34. Joey B says:

    AN…

  35. Joey B says:

    TI…

  36. Joey B says:

    CL…

  37. Joey B says:

    IM…

  38. Joey B says:

    AC…

  39. Joey B says:

    TIC…

    I figured I should continue the theme.

  40. dvddesign says:

    Brian,

    It’s been a good series, but I hope this has taught you a few things about investigative journalism. Your last few posts read like you’ve backpedaled to avoid any libelous slander where you’ve alluded to a lot of big reveals. A lot of bark with no bite. Eh.

    You really know how to sizzle a story, but not one for delivering the goods. I know we’re all a bunch of amateur critics and such, but I hope you have a stronger case built the next time you attack a company. Your defusing of IDT and Midtown in these last two posts has underwhelmed the overall story and called into question the actual negative influences of IDT and Midtown on it’s contracted employees.

    If anything, it seems that IDT or Midtown is only guilty of having shitty contracted employees, which questionable types are usually drawn to get rich quick schemes such as this anyway.

  41. klamer says:

    After that conclusion, the Sopranos ender last night doesn’t seem as bad

  42. Echodork says:

    Ok, so I read all seven articles.

    The first five articles were truly excellent. The last two, not so much. As others have said, this series provided a lot of lead-up without offering any meaningful resolution.

    After reading this series, the conclusion I’m forced to draw is that IDT Energy isn’t any better or worse than any other door-to-door marketer I’ve come into contact with. The street-pounders are under tremendous pressure to sell with no corporate oversight, and it appears that that’s where the shadiest practices come in.

    You uncovered no evidence that Midtown encourages its employees to commit fraud in any way. No uniforms, no intentional deception. If anything, what you showed us was a manager’s best effort to keep his people legit… there were several instances where salesmen were told NOT to represent ConEd. If anything, Midtown comes out looking better at the end than they did in the beginning.

    So where does that leave this story? The last half of The Confession reeks of sour grapes. You failed to uncover the corruption you were looking for, but Midtown is “guilty of creating an atmosphere?” No, that’s weak. It might be true, but it’s weak. This series wasn’t about “creating an atmosphere,” this series was about uncovering intentional attempts to defraud. And when you found no evidence to support that accusation, the classy thing to do would have been to man up and admit that your accusation was baseless.

    But hey, thanks for your effort. I’ll read the next article you write. If nothing else, the first five articles in this series were very entertaining to read, and I look forward to similar contributions from you in the future.

  43. DashTheHand says:

    Yea, I’m going to have to go ahead and complain about this as well. I was looking forward to some actual proof or finding out some info other than “This guy that claimed to work for this place said some shady crap might have happened. Nevermind that he looked unemployed, nervous, and only gave indirect answers with no physical evidence.”

    Going undercover for a week is about Tyra Banks depth journalism.

  44. IC18 says:

    So no more Juice?

  45. SpecialK says:

    “Creates an atmosphere.” Is that a crime? Is that anywhere close to fraud? I’m sort of surprised the Gawker Inc. lawyers let this series fly. If an MSM source had run this story, the libel lawyers would be all over them. After thousands of words of insinuation, you have no facts to back them up and only the word of a possibly disgruntled former employee who said that individual salespeople took it upon themselves to sport the shirts.

  46. jlrolin says:

    Give the guy some credit, he did an investigation of the company, got some facts, and reported it. He wasn’t willing to go the full distance and make himself into a shyster salesman who feeds off of people, but he did what he could.

    Great job, and a good insight into the underworking of some of those businesses.

  47. Jerim says:

    I agree, if anything this seems to exonerate Midtown Promotions. A part of journalism is being neutral. You seemed to have your mind made up in advance, and when you couldn’t find any facts to corroborate your judgment, you sought it online.

    I am not saying Midtown is a good company, because these types of companies rarely are. I am sure they are shady in their own way. But come on, you couldn’t get any closer to proof than some random guy on the street who may or may not have worked for them, who could be just trying to get back at someone? Your star witness himself stated that the sales people were getting their own shirts. As far as we know, this was a scam created by sales people out in the field and you haven’t provided any direct link to Midtown Promotions.

    Even if this whole ConEd scam happened in the past, at least give Midtown credit for cleaning it up. (For the record I live in the South, and have no association with ConEd, Midtown Promotions or IDT Energy.)

  48. waddsworth says:

    I think the problem with this article is that it set out to find a specific piece of evidence to a specific crime – that being IDT contractors wearing ConEd uniforms.

    However, knowing how Midtown and their ilk operate, the story could have been successful by taking a different tone, and focusing on different facts.

    Midtown is culpable because it creates an atmosphere that focuses on results while only paying lip-service to the rules. They profit from fraudulent acts of deception, without actively enforcing the laws. They immediately congratulate “high-rollers” one day after their results, without conducting a single follow-up call to any of the customers who signed-up for their service.

    The owners of these companies hire anyone, provide little to no actual training, feed their heads with unsubstantiated claims of riches-to-be-gotten, encourage fierce competition, provide absolutely no oversight, then unleash the monsters they’ve created on an unsuspecting public. Afterwards, they wipe their hands clean of all responsibility before setting to counting their ill-gotten gains. To me, that’s pretty bad, about as bad as buying a TV in the parking lot of an electronics store thats in the middle of being looted… and doing it over and over again.

  49. Anonymous says:

    ack! Just read this series of articles in its entirety, and to be truthful, It made me feel more pissed off and annoyed with you then with IDT or Midtown promotions. You seemed just a desperate as James, trying to drum up a scam that wasn’t there. I know this article was two years ago, but have you actually considered apologizing to Eric? You seemed like the only shady one there!

    Shady things go on in all business’s (look at the domino’s scam). I do web design & development, and I’ve even seen some pretty shady things there too…

    It was entertaining though.