Punching A Cop In The Face Is Not A Good Tactic For Selling Direct Energy Service

It’s not uncommon to be visited by a door-to-door rep attempting to sell service for an electric or gas company, but it’s not every day that one of those sales calls ends in an off-duty police officer being punched in the face.

According to the Chicago Tribune, a young man was making the rounds on the city’s Southwest Side last week, pitching the virtues of switching to Direct Energy.

At the police officer’s house, the 59-year-old off-duty cop declined the offer and says he asked the sales rep to shut the gate on his way out. The rep allegedly slammed the gate, leading to some verbal fireworks between the two.

Witnesses told the police that the sales rep then punched the cop in the face, breaking his glasses.

So he was arrested and charged with aggravated battery to a police officer and criminal damage to property.

A spokesperson for Direct Energy tells the Tribune that the company “takes it very seriously,” but would not yet say if the arrested man was employed by Direct Energy or a subcontractor.

The Tribune reports that this is the man’s fourth arrest on battery charges, so whichever company hired him should probably have done a more thorough background check before sending him out on a job that requires him to annoy people by showing up at their door uninvited.

Police: Man seeking business punched off-duty police officer at home [Chicago Tribune]

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  1. Dont lump me into your 99%! says:

    These guys annoy the heck out of me, but I am wondering if switching them really worth it? I have heard you can save money, but I am still sketchy.

    • kobresia says:

      I’m guessing they’re just service resellers– they buy the basic services at wholesale prices from utilities, then resell them. They might be able to save consumers a few bucks here and there, but they’re the ones providing any customers service and tech support that may be required, and they’re probably not regulated by the PUC (at least not as closely as the utility itself).

      As terrible as the customer service is for most utilities, it’s hard to imagine a reseller being any worse, so the cost savings might be worth it. Well, aside from the sketchy door to door salespeople and the sketchy and misleading tactics they get caught using on occasion. I hate shenanigans, so I’d probably not have anything to do with them even if they could save me a little.

    • blueg3 says:

      At least some of them are scammers: long-term contracts for fixed energy rates well above the market rate with high fees to end your contract. The ones around here actually come by and ask to look at your last energy bill so they can copy personal information from it. (They lie about why they want to see the bill.)

      I tend to follow the policy that if you can’t get an honest cost quote and information off of their website, they’re probably not trustworthy.

  2. bonzombiekitty says:

    I don’t like those Direct Energy people. They showed up at my door in Philadelphia several months back asking about me “not responding to [my] energy bill”. Of course I could see right through them as I auto-pay my bill and they aren’t even my supplier, and told them to go away in not so polite terms.

    • LuzioFantazmic says:

      You didn’t get punched in the face?

      Guess you didn’t get the full sales experience that they offer.

      I’d complain.

  3. voiceofreason says:

    Shouldn’t the charge simply be “aggravated battery”? Why does it matter if the victim was a cop? He was off duty.

    • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

      Because he should have known better.

    • chefboyardee says:

      I completely agree. What a bullshit law. I know a lot of cops who are full of themselves and act like douchebags off duty. Let’s say I’m walking down the street, one of them whistles at my wife, I tell him to knock it off, he starts shit, we tussle, I hit him. How the hell is that assault on a cop and not “punching some normal douchebag who deserves it”.

      On duty = cop.
      Off duty = normal jagoff.

      • MutantMonkey says:

        “How the hell is that assault on a cop and not “punching some normal douchebag who deserves it”.

        Context.

      • Reading Rainbow says:

        I was thinking the same thing – although I think it has to come down to knowledge if the guy is a cop or not is relevant. Like if I have a thing against cops in general it should matter that the guy is a cop. But under normal circumstances an off duty cop is just some joe.

    • Cicadymn says:

      That was my first thought. He’s off duty, he wasn’t dressed as an authority figure and unless he identified himself as such, there shouldn’t be any difference in punching him than punching any normal person on the street. It certainly shouldn’t carry a heftier sentence or punishment than normal assault.

      Plus it seems he handled the situation very poorly, aren’t they the ones always telling us to not engage in “verbal fireworks”. I mean what did he want the kid to do? Unslam his gate? If there wasn’t any damage he should have just been an adult and let it go.

      If there was damage, well I’m sure there’s something like getting the plate number or freaking arresting him then, but purposefully egging him on with “verbal fireworks” doesn’t seem to be the proper adult reaction to this situation.

      • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

        When put like that, you see that because of his job, and the training and experience involved, he could have handled that situation in a way that would have avoided being punched in the face. I’d venture to say that he got himself punched in the face.

        • Cicadymn says:

          “he got himself punched in the face.”

          Exactly. Was it right for that kid to slam his gate? No. But sometimes you have to be the bigger man. Especially as a cop as they’re supposed to be held to higher standards. Nowadays everyone has to lower themselves down to an elementary school level of name calling and boo boos in the sandbox.

          People need to learn to grow up.

        • jeadly says:

          Yes! He should be more responsible for not instigating people to violent acts, especially if assaulting him is somehow worse than assaulting a normal citizen.

    • Cat says:

      aggravated battery to a police officer?

      If you’re off duty, and the assault has nothing to do with the victim being a police officer, then the charge should be aggravated battery. PERIOD.

      Now, if you’re a cop and want to be a dick, you whip out your badge as the assailant swings. That way you can claim they were informed you were a dick, but they hit you anyway.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      It depends on whether the officer identified himself as an officer before the assault happened. If the guy didn’t know, the charge won’t stick. If the guy knew (the officer told him), the charge will stick.

    • Conformist138 says:

      Willing to bet it’s just to rub it in- they charged him with it because they could, but the charge will be reduced either in a plea or in court.

    • proliance says:

      Makes about as much sense as a hate crime law.

  4. dolemite says:

    I’ve gotten a few letters from a gas company trying to get me to switch. I haven’t had any problems with my current gas company (going on 10 years now), so…I think I’ll stick with what I know.

    • clippy2.0 says:

      I worked for one of the subcontractors that sold this stuff. I think the basic business premise is that these are areas that were forced into an energy monopoly, and are now able to have competition step in, so direct energy is just buying up everything they can, and just trying to get a market foothold. More than likely, your provider won’t even change, since part of the argeement is to simply give up market share.

      But I’m not 100% certain on that

    • nybiker says:

      You may not have had any problems and that’s good, but what about the price of the energy? Here in NYC, Con Ed is generally the delivery company and they still handle the servicing of one’s infrastructure (electric & gas), so you can still switch to another gas-supply company but keep your delivery company to resolve any problems. Con Ed even has a website (http://www.poweryourway.com) where you submit your request for rate quotes and you get email responses from the various ESCOs.

  5. mister_roboto says:

    Here in Seattle we have public owned utilities- ftw! (most of the time)

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      Austin has a publicly owned utility. When I moved to the suburbs and had to contract my own my rates went up just a bit. Now my rates have plummeted and the public rates in the city are rising fast. I’ll stick with the free market.

  6. Nobby says:

    Everybody punches everybody in Chicago. I don’t see why this is newsworthy coming from this city.

    • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

      That’s kinda why I’m in no rush to visit Chicago.

  7. LanMan04 says:

    So he was arrested and charged with aggravated battery to a police officer
    ————-
    Fuck that. Why do cops have some special kind of battery charge (which I assume has worse penalties) applied when they get beat up off-the-clock?

    • pythonspam says:

      He obviously wasn’t in uniform (Not even a salesman wants commissions enough to punch a uniformed cop.) and at his private residence.

      Why should we give special treatment to off-duty cops and not off-duty postal carriers or off-duty forest rangers or off-duty health inspectors?

  8. tinmanx says:

    I hate how these guys try to pass themselves off as ConEd or whatever the major service provider in the area is. I remember one time I spent 15 minutes going back and forth on who they actually are. They can’t say they are actually ConEd, but don’t wait to admit that they are a complete different company. So I would ask if they were ConEd, and they would say something like “yes, we are your energy company”.

    My BIL did this for a couple of weeks, but gave it up because he realize the people who he sold service to wasn’t saving any money and everything they tell him to say were lies.

  9. DrRonster says:

    You wind up being locked into a certain price for the commodity but all the delivery fees and taxes will be as before. If the commodity price drops, you loose. If it goes up then you might win but with the other charges you wont see any savings. I was contacted by one of these shills just before natural gas dropped. Do you think i would have been given a lower rate? The screw-job by the predominant supplier is gonna be a lot less painful than one from these scam “companies”. BTW contact your local PD to see if these low-lifes have a permit to solicit door-to-door.

  10. thrashanddestroy says:

    Sort of related but sort of not…

    Punching an off-duty police officer shouldn’t carry any more weight than punching anyone else, at least not legally. Of course we’d have to pretend the officer doesn’t have any leverage or connections, along with the a judge not holding any bias.

    Punching a uniformed officer in the face is one thing, but punching some guy that’s being a dick is totally different. I don’t know what you do for a living and I don’t care, what matters is that — at this moment — you’re in my face being an aggressive asshole.

    Assault is still assault, and the Direct Energy sales rep is still a jerk with a record. What I’m saying is he shouldn’t be charged with anything else other than assault, the cop wasn’t a cop when he hit him…just some guy on his day off.

  11. oldtaku says:

    I suspect Direct Energy and the rest of those companies that have aggressive door to door goons like their salesmen to have a few felonies. Whatever it takes to get the job done, you unnerstan, eh?

  12. Dr.Wang says:

    why answer the door in the first place? Look thru the peep hole. Strangers? Never open the door. It works for me. Same with telemarketer calls. Only numbers in my cell contacts list have a ring tone, the rest play a 3 second recording of silence. End of problem.

  13. technoreaper says:

    The multi-level direct energy guys are seriously annoying. If they were legit, they wouldn’t have to do this guys. I have one Facebook friend, former Facebook friend, that kept spamming my feed with deranged posts about signing people up to earn money with his “company.” He kept getting more and more defensive with every new status, calling people idiots for not signing up. I really had no choice but to unfriend him.

  14. daynight says:

    There are always things left unsaid in such reports.

    One possibility is the officer was just home from work and was still wearing his uniform. We don’t know what the circumstances were.

    The ‘verbal fireworks’ was between the two, but it is unclear if the officer ever said anything inappropriate or contributed to them. Being yelled at is not the same as contributing except as a target.

    Further, there have been comments that the police officer’s training should have made him more restrained. Well, a sales rep is also give some training, less than an officer perhaps, to interact with the public. The sales rep should have been trained that punching is NEVER an option. Since the sales rep has had previous battery charges from three additional incidents, I see no reason to assume the officer was inappropriate until and unless something comes out to indicate such.

    After all, if your hobby is punching people, that should indicate something about you!

  15. dullard says:

    California law requires that the perpetrator knows, or reasonably should know, that the victim is a peace officer or other listed personnel. It also requires that the officer be engaged in the performance of his or her duties, whether on or off duty. Performance of his or her duties while off duty can include such activities as when the peace officer is in a police uniform and is concurrently performing the duties required of him or her as a peace officer while also employed in a private capacity as a part-time or casual private security guard or patrolman. There are other listed activities which would constitute performance of his or her duties while off duty.

  16. gman863 says:

    In Houston, there are dozens of Retail Electric Providers (REPs). I get at least three letters a week from Reliant, TXU, Direct Energy and others offering some sort of incentive if I dump my current REP and sign up for a 12-24 month contract.

    The local paper and job magazines always have REP sales positions listed. Aside from having a pulse and being able to knock on a door, I don’t think there are any other qualifications or background checks since these salespeople are actually independent contractors.

    BTW, most states have an unbiased state-run web site to compare REPs rates and terms. In Texas, it’s http://www.powertochoose.org.

  17. frenchman says:

    The two most important things my Chemistry professor taught me were:

    - Fuel + Oxidizer = Boom, and
    – Never punch a cop.

    Obviously, this guy never took a Chemistry class.

  18. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    A douche bag like this takes a swing at me he’d better be faster than a bullet.

  19. Libertas says:

    Chances are they tagged him with the increased charge to provide reason to take a plea.