Craigslist, Netflix and several other websites are down following six successive power outages in San Fran’s SOMA ‘hood. [Boing Boing]
In case you missed any of 7-part undercover report on IDT-Energy, Midtown Promotions, and the fabulous worlds of energy resale and multi-level-marketing, here’s a recap:
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.
From the moment I met up with James, and Doreen, who was going our way, things began to fall apart. Eric told me to follow James, not Carl, who was going solo. I was to listen to James’ instructions, follow his example, and go to wherever he decided we should spend the day. Today was Mt. Vernon, NY, almost 90 minutes from the offices of Midtown Promotions.
If you’re just now tuning in, we’ve been doling out daily pieces of our multi-part investigation into IDT-Energy. They’re an energy reseller in the New York area and we’ve received multiple complaints about their salesperson’s dressing as ConEd workers and doing other funny stuff at the door to get people to sign over. So we sent in Brian Fairbanks undercover to get hired at Midtown Promotions, a direct-sales marketing company IDT-Energy contracted to get subscribers.
Before the morning meeting started, I left my man-purse on a set of boxes right by the blackboard, with the microphone discreetly poking out of the pocket.
The NY Post ran a good article looking into whether the savings promised by door-to-door energy resale reps like IDT Energy ever really materialize for subscribers:
“I’ve had complaints from residents, as well as small businesses, who have unwittingly switched to a different energy provider and seen their bills go through the roof,” said City Councilman John Liu (D-Queens).
One Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, IDT customer – a bartender who gave her name as Carmel – said her electric bill jumped from $40 to $70, and she is anxious to cancel.
While scanning the collateral Brian picked up in his investigation, we nearly choked on this gem buried in their terms and conditions: it says that you’ll get 7% savings for the first two months, but after that, there’s no telling whether your bill will be higher or lower than what it would be with ConEd (click to enlarge image).
I sat in the offices of Midtown Promotions, watching the receptionist field calls from job prospects, still surprised at having been one of those callers not even twenty-four hours prior.
FreeMoneyFinance has six tips to keep your energy bill from overheating this summer:
While we’re talking about IDT Energy and Con Ed and Midtown Promotions and DS-MAX, let’s learn about another acronym, ESCos, which stands for “energy service companies” (the kind of company IDT Energy is).
Midtown Promotions has no yellow pages entry, no website, and no apparent internet job postings. Cruising their profile on Rip Off Report, a site where, natch, consumers file complaints against companies they feel ripped them off, I found a number for Midtown Promotions main office. It took several discussions with the editor of The Consumerist before we felt we nailed down the approach to the first phone call…
Max from Queens tells us what it’s like to have IDT Energy knocking on your door:
My front buzzer rang a little while ago while I was in the shower. I figured it was UPS, and that my roommate would go out to get it. A short while later, the bell on my apartment went off, and I guessed that he had forgotten to grab his keys on the way out. So I grabbed a towel, and went to let him in. Instead of my roommate, there was some dude with a binder.
For months, readers have told The Consumerist of fake Con Edison employees showing up on their doorstep. The story is always the same; they open their door to find people in Con Ed outfits almost demanding that the customer sign a form to save 7% on their bills. The “Con Ed” employee then demands to see the bill and thrust their fingers at the part where it says you can save by switching to an alternate energy supplier. But they don’t actually work for Con Ed; in fact, they work for IDT Energy.
For nearly a year, we’ve told you about door-to-door salesmen trying to get New Yorkers to switch to IDT Energy, pretending to work for ConEd.
IDT Energy, which specializes in going door to door and lying to customers in order to get sales, has expanded its reach past NYC and is now conning the good citizens in Albany, NY, according to this reader Peter’s letter:
A woman in Maine broke a CFL and, rather than carefully cleaning the mess up herself, she called Home Depot. They told her not to vacuum, and directed her to call Poison Control. Poison Control directed her to the Maine DEP, who then sent an agent. The agent told her to call in a toxic waste team to give an estimate. Naturally, they told her it was going to be around $2,000. She heard that number, walled off the bedroom and alerted the local media.