This is almost everything you need know about DS-MAX (now known as Innovage), the super-shady multi-level-marketing group whose business practices seems to have inspired the Midtown Promotions office we’re looking into. It’s culled from an excellent post over at DS-MAX: The Aftermath:
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.
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).
steve-o: My first day there was an ‘interview’ in what was essentially a warehouse…
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:
Matt Elzweig, a New York based reporter, interviewed Consumerist Editor Ben Popken about the site, how to protect yourself from getting screwed, and neighborhood.
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….
Thanks for all of the excellent feedback to, “Consumerist’s Job Interview With IDT Energy’s Scammy Marketing Firm.” Here are a few answers to your questions:
115 West 30th Street is the unassuming address for an unmemorable building that serves as the headquarters of Midtown Promotions, a “marketing solutions” company that solves markets for IDT. We interviewed with them as part of Consumerist’s continuing efforts to expose IDT’s deceptive practices.
After seeing our post, “What ConEd Thinks Of IDT Energy Slamming Its Customers,” spokesman Alfonso Quiroz called back to say “your statement is incorrect.”
ConEd spokesman Alfonso Quiroz let us know that they, “always encourage customers to shop around.” He pointed to poweryourway.com as a great place to find alternate energy service companies or ESCOs.