Another Story About IDT Energy's Door-To-Door Scams

Here’s another report of IDT Energy using the old “We need to make sure you got a discount on your last energy bill, just sign here” tactic to trick people into switching to IDT Energy. In this post written by Amanda, a blogger in the Adirondacks, she describes how a guy with a badge and clipboard showed up at her door, saying he was checking to make sure she got a discount off her last bill. He had her go get her latest bill, then,

“He proceeded to tsk tsk tsk about the absence of my discount. “Not a problem. I can take care of this for you and make sure you get the discount you signed up for.” He was writing on a form, covering the majority with his arm. I craned my neck to look. He pivoted.

(snip part where salesman acts super creepy…)

“Thank you for signing up with IDT for energy savings and you tell my supervisor I was a nice guy, ok?” He squeezed my hand and smiled. “You bet.” I turned, locked the door behind me and scanned the pink sheet. I’d never signed up before and the sheet said as much. The whole thing had been a shady way of hurrying unsuspecting folks through. I looked up the number, 1-877-887-6866, and waited on hold for ten minutes before reaching an operator. “A guy just came to my door, I’d like to cancel the Switch and Save program,” I said.

Don’t fall for this scam. Warn your friends and neighbors, and if a shady ESCO salesman comes to your door and pulls a deceptive marketing move like we describe here, shut the door on him and report it to your attorney general.

IDT Energy, or I Don’t Think So Jack Ass [The Wink]
PREVIOUSLY: IDT Energy Still Scamming New York Residents
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. mayrc87 says:

    they came to my door yesterday, I just close the door on his face.

  2. Asvetic says:

    I wonder if Ben and Meg suffer from Type Dyslexia… they’re always transposing words…”Don’t for fall this scam.”

  3. Nighthawke says:

    Nuts on calling the AG, call the police

  4. richcreamerybutter says:

    In multi-family dwellings, they’re like roaches…if they gain access to the building 2 of them start scurrying to each floor. They’ve made their way in twice over the past few months.

    I do admit I was the asshole who enabled them the last time. I was expecting a package from the USPS, and it was around the time they normally show up (we have no video intercom and I normally ignore buzzers if I’m not expecting anyone). Yeah I should have asked, but the intercom itself is pretty fuzzy.

  5. DashTheHand says:

    Start waving around the gun, that should make sure they don’t come back.

  6. Smitherd says:

    @richcreamerybutter: Not your fault. They’re the ones causing the problem here.

  7. Shadowman615 says:

    A guy like that came to my door yesterday. I said, “come on in while I get the bill.” After he stepped in, my associates appeared from behind the door and beat him to the ground. I finished him off with a few blows to the face with a plumbing wrench.

    We dropped the body in front of the IDT office with a “salesmen always welcome” sign sticking out of its chest.

    Alright, none of this actually happened, but a man can always dream….

  8. ringo00 says:

    People in “shoot first” states don’t have to deal with this kind of thing. By shoot first states, I mean those states where it is not illegal to shoot trespassers.

    • Aaronjk says:

      @ringo00: There is no true “Shoot First” state. They have to pose a real threat to you. Death or serious bodily harm. BUT I am glad I live in a gun happy state like Arizona… I have a gun (1911) on at all times, would probably scare these people out of their minds!!

  9. ByeBye says:

    My wife better not do this…she’d be out on the street with this guy…kidding honey!

  10. gqcarrick says:

    @Shadowman615: If thats what you are dreaming about then you might have a few issues you need to resolve.

  11. Tom Servo says:

    You guys … this is just the genius of the free market working.

    /sarcasm
    //someone was going to say something like it sooner or later

  12. rmz says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the salesman’s “creepy behavior” weren’t just a teensy bit exaggerated. His dress shirt TOUCHED YOUR ARM? My goodness, what a lech!

  13. JollyJumjuck says:

    I had a similar thing happen a number of years ago when I lived in a place with natural gas instead of all electric heating. I had been with Ontario Energy Savings Corporation for a little over a year. Two men arrived at my door with a huge stack of computer paper (the 11 x 17 kind with tractor feed holes in the side) filled with names and addresses. They told me they were from OESC and I said I was already signed up with them. “I know,” one said, “are you receiving good customer service?” “I guess,” I replied, knowing that OESC just resells the gas, they don’t do any “customer service.” The other one gave me something like a brochure and said, “Just sign here to indicate you’ve been receiving good customer service.” They got a bit nervous when I read it: if I were to sign it, my price for the gas would be almost doubled! (The original contract called for a 5 year price freeze). In addition, the new contract stated that they can cancel the terms at any time, for any reason. I gave them back their paper and told them to fuck off. Yep, doubling my rate shows GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE.

    So here is how those energy resellers apparently work: they charge a higher-than-current rate of the main utility company for gas or electricity and lock you into that rate for a fixed period of time, telling you that if the price goes way up, you’ll be safe for the length of your contract. But if the reseller is losing money, they’ll void the contract! Talk about a one-sided deal!

  14. rmz says:

    @Cool Cat: Just about anybody who’s in favor of free market economics still believes that the government should play a role in protecting citizens from fraud and deception. Take your straw men somewhere else.

  15. dmuth says:

    I hope they come to my door.

    I rent, and utilities are included with rent. :-)

  16. Tom Servo says:

    @rmz: No argument there. I was just surprised that some uber-libertaran type was bound to take IDT’s side on this sooner or later. They make regular free-market proponents look bad.

  17. Amy Alkon000 says:

    What kind of dimwad hands over their bill with their personal information to a total stranger who knocks on their door?

  18. cmdrsass says:

    @ringo00: so, none of them, in other words.

  19. pantsonfire says:

    @Cool Cat: I’m no political scientist, but as far as I know most libertarians don’t advocate fraud. I have however, seen a few of them wearing tinfoil hats and “Gold Standard 2008″ t-shirts.

  20. samurailynn says:

    I would have a very hard time believing that any of my utility companies would send someone door to door to do anything other than sales. Once my phone company owed us money (we overpaid or something and I didn’t catch it) and they just sent us a check that said refund. I did call the phone company to make sure it was really from them, and really just a refund (not some sort of “cash this to sign up for ___” scam). That’s pretty much how I expect utility companies to handle things like that though… they’re not going to waste their time and resources sending people door to door.

  21. intellivised says:

    @ringo00: I live in a shoot fist/shoot often state (Wyoming) and am amazed at the lack of door to door scams and lack other such things here compared to where I used to live (Union City, NJ).

  22. samurailynn says:

    @pantsonfire: Do the foil hats come with free Gold Standard ’08 shirts? I had to purchase mine separately.

  23. pantsonfire says:

    @samurailynn: I think you get them for free when you donate money to one of the truther organizations.

  24. pantsonfire says:

    …I’m pretty sure I’m gonna get flamed for that last comment.

  25. Tyr_Anasazi says:

    @Shadowman615: I ‘ve had that dream before…it’s a good dream…

  26. @Amy Alkon: I am starting to wonder that myself!!

  27. jacknval says:

    @rmz:
    heh, no kidding, I think she may be exaggerating just a tad! Makes a for better read for her mommy blog fans.

  28. kbarrett says:

    @pantsonfire: You’re already flaming.

  29. ophmarketing says:

    I think Amanda’s biggest mistake was, when “a guy with a badge and clipboard showed up at her door,” she actually OPENED it. What kind of dim bulb opens the door when it’s someone she doesn’t know? It’s 2008, not 1954. I don’t care if you’re in the Adirondacks or not. Get a clue.

  30. Sidecutter says:

    @rmz: Personal space. It’s mine/hers/whomever’s being referenced. If someone;s SHIRT, which I assume (nay, PRAY) they are *wearing* if they’re selling things door to door is touching me, that is most assuredly creepy. It’s also a violation of my personal space. You simply do not get that close to a perfect stranger without permission (or mutual obvious intent of spontaneous drunken sex, at least).

  31. GiffordFenderburg says:

    That was my post. The great thing is how many people have found me by
    trying to Google “IDT scam.” That salesman’s sketchy tactics and my
    subsequent retelling of them have, I am sure, netted them a number of
    “Thanks, but no thanks.” My city has since banned them!

    Thanks.
    Amanda

  32. jamesdenver says:

    I’m sure BTK didn’t look threatening either in city government issued drab gray shirt.

  33. axiomatic says:

    Here is my comment for any salesman or religious nutjob who comes to my door. It’s quite effective:

    “Sure, come on in! I’ve had the Jehovah’s witness tied up in the basement since last month, you two should get along famously!”

  34. pat_trick says:

    I find it interesting that the article linked is dated back to August ’07. Digging for material, are we?

  35. rmz says:

    @Sidecutter: That was just one example, I was really just referring to the overall tone of the post. She detailed how there was a strange knocking at the door, how her dog barked at it, how her children asked her who it was and how she said “I don’t know, honey,” and how she locked the side doors to the house.

    Completely irrelevant unless she was trying to instill some sort of false sense of danger when describing her situtation.

  36. oldwiz says:

    @axiomatic:

    Or perhaps “My snake loves salesmen and hasn’t been fed for a week.”

  37. aspie32 says:

    Welcome to 10 years ago in the UK.

  38. SoLovelyDarling says:

    Got a nice visit from “Direct Energy” today asking if “I’d like to know how I can save money on my Con Edison Bill.” I guess Brooklyn caught on. Now they are targeting Washington Heights in Manhattan. When I told the rep I wasn’t interested since I read Consumerist and know what the Direct Energy is all about, the guy said, “you have no idea what the company can offer. Your missing a great deal on ….” I slammed the door mid-sentence.

  39. beeniedino says:

    Beware, they’re in Queens too. Just today they knocked on my door. Flushing Queens to be exact.

  40. kne200 says:

    I had an IDT sales representative show up at my house.
    He said he was from Con Edison. I was so stupid to sign their form, but canceled it the minute he left. From then on these guys kept on showing up in our building. I sometimes buzzed them in, because I had expected a student at that time.
    Today again someone was ringing my bell. I did not answer right away, because I was getting dresses, when the guys starts pounding at my door and yelling he was from Con Edison. I was so angry that I called IDT and told them I was going to call the police next time. The representative took down my address and told me our building would be taken onto the “do not knock” list. I hope that works. I live around 125th street in NYC.
    It is so sad that regular companies use borderline criminal
    tactics. I also filed a complaint with 311 a city hotline in NYC.

  41. BelGazou says:

    Hindsight is always 20/20. I feel like a total fool now.

    The guy knocked on the door and when I asked who it was he told me that he was from “Con Edison”. I looked out the peephole and saw that he was wearing a uniform that looked exactly like Con Ed’s. I asked him to show me his I.D., which he held up to the peephole, it was fuzzy and dark but looked like Con Ed’s, although I couldn’t see it that clearly. I opened the door and he asked if I had an electric energy supply company other than Con Ed. When I told him yes, he told me that some of the ESCO customers were approved for a credit but that he had to see my last bill to ascertain if I would be eligible. I showed him my bill and he said that I would be eligible for a credit to my account and to please sign the form to certify that I’d been contacted and approved for the credit.

    A few days later I got a notice from IDT of the switch in my electric energy supplier to IDT. At first, I thought that my energy company had either folded or had been bought out by IDT until I Googled IDT and found the Consumerist blog. I called IDT and cancelled immediately. I’m sending a confirmation letter via certified mail to them as soon as the PO opens on Monday. I also alerted the rest of the tenants in my building and the Block Association. At least two other people in the neighborhood have been similarly scammed by these people and no doubt more will come to light in the next few days.

  42. arthur055302 says:

    About a week ago a African American woman knocked on the door and said that I may be eligible to save money on my eletric bill, but I forgot those things in the office. Today another African American woman came back, claiming from IDT (and I did checked her ID), telling me the same thing. After she told me that I can save on the “GRT & other tax surcharges” and the sales tax, she started to prepare forms, and I was still confused.

    I asked her: what about the supply charge? Does the actual charge per kWh goes down? And she said that if I’m currently billed $60, it will go down to $49. Wow, a more than 15% discount, plus 7% on the delivery charge (provided by ConEd)? Still doubting how this actually works, I signed. Then I found Consumerist, and right now I am sitting in fromt of my computer with my jaw open…I live in Elmhurst(part of Queens), New York.

  43. blim8183 says:

    These guys were all over the South Slope area in Brooklyn last Wednesday. I was stupid enough to sign the papers and ended up canceling immediately after once I had realized what I had done. I also filed a complaint with the city and most importantly, I placed a lock on my ConEd account. This was suggested by the guy at the city agency I called, locking the account makes it impossible for a company like IDT to transfer your utility services to them without ConEd getting your approval directly from you.

  44. bammy279 says:

    I also live in South Slope and they just nearly performed a home invasion!! I was walking in the door with my bike and the guy approached me on the stoop. Luckily (but not for me), IDT scammed a friend recently and I remember the pitch. I said, “No thanks.” He then asked what floor I live on. Wouldn’t tell him. Then he starts following me into the building! I told him he needed to be buzzed in like everyone else. He said, “Why?” I said, “I don’t know who you are.” “Don’t know who I am?!?! I work for ConEd?!?!”, and turned around his busted up looking nametag as if it were credentials. Luckily, my downstairs neighbor came out to give me some backup, but really? Following a woman into her building – how creepy is that? He told me there was no reason to be rude. But, who’s the rude one? Me and my neighbor said, “no, thanks” and then just “NO” and he still kept trying to come in the building. YUCK! I called IDT to complain, but obviously this is their business practice.

  45. miznyc says:

    Just asked a “Louis Watt” from IDT to leave the building at Riverside Drive and 145th in NYC. He was going door to door, I don’t know how he got in. He said ConEd probably isn’t giving me my required 7% off and said my GRT taxes should be zero and if I just filled out his form then I would get the discounts. He wouldn’t give me one of the papers to look at and send in on my own. He said he only had the 10 that he needed to get filled out for the day. He left after I asked nicely (twice), but I walked him out of the building.

  46. sciencegeek says:

    They’re in the Bronx right now. Just had two knocking on my door.

  47. ccgh says:

    We just had an issue this past couple of weeks. Posts of our ordeal to date on brownstoner.com and gowanuslounge.com

    http://www.brownstoner.com/brownstoner/archives/2008/10/energy_scammers.php#more

    http://www.gowanuslounge.com/2008/10/17/energy-company-scammers-working-south-brooklyn/#comment-8980

    We’re trying to tally all the new scumbag work of IDT Energy. Any new activity can be e-mailed to info (at) ccgreenwoodhts.com

    Thanks for being on-top of this issue Consumerist!