IDT Energy Bilks Grandpa

We’ll let Jimmy’s email speak for itself:

    Today I went to visit my grandfather, who lives in an apartment building. He told me that he had switched his energy company from ConEd to IDT Energy. I asked him why he did such a thing. His response shocked me. A little backstory first. My grandfather is well into his 80s and his knowledge of english is limited. He told me that the IDT sales rep. told him to sign up or else he will be fined. Even with my limited legal knowledge, I know this strong-arm tactic was not legally justifiable. He also told me that the rep went throughout the whole building, enrolling more hapless victims.

    I carefully scanned the contract hoping for a way out, but I could not find one. I am asking you guys for help. Thanks in advance!

Well, the first thing you need to do is actually call them and see if you can’t get out of the contract by explaining the situation. Be cool, but make it clear you’re willing to go to the Better Business Bureau, a lawyer and the police with this. Any knowledge you can get from your grandfather will help, particularly the sales rep’s name.

This probably isn’t going to get you anywhere, but there’s always the chance, and you need to exhaust that possibility before you move on. If you don’t get resolution at a lower level of the customer service hierarchy, keep escalating it. If it doesn’t get you anywhere, you definitely should follow through with reporting IDT Energy and perhaps at least talking to the police or a lawyer.

As a long shot, you might actually try calling ConEd, explaining the situation, telling them you want to switch your grandfather back to them and asking if they know any loopholes you could take advantage of.

Any other, possibly better suggestions from readers land?


Edit Your Comment

  1. Amy Alkon000 says:

    What state is does the grandfather live in? This should be reported to the atty. general of the state…good if it’s NY and Elliot Spitzer.

  2. Pelagius says:

    Amy’s suggestion seconded. The state attorney general’s office is usually quite effective in these matters.
    Looks like IDT is active in NY state. This article and this one describe the same sort of hard sell tactics that Jimmy’s pappy fell victim to.

  3. Amy Alkon000 says:

    I just sent this link (to this post) in the comments form to Elliot Spitzer. Here’s the link to the NY State Atty General’s site:

    Make a complaint there — I just left a comment since this didn’t happen to me. Encourage others in your grandpa’s building to complain as well. There are phone numbers on the site for complaints (in the contact info).

  4. Ben Popken says:

    If the saleperson made false claims, “you will be fined,” there’s a clear case for consumer fraud.

  5. Ben Popken says:

    Kelli writes:

    “The IDT guys have been making the rounds in New York for a few weeks. One of their reps came by our building about a month ago, touting that we could “save 7%” on our bill. Most of the families in our building, too, are Spanish-speaking immigrants. This guy just went through with his “savings” schpeal and had them signing up left and right, no questions asked.

    Now, I’m a native-English speaker, so the rep was at first disconcerted and then confrontational when I actually wanted to ask questions before signing up. I told him I needed to think about it and asked for some literature about the company or program. He told me if I didn’t sign up right then, I wouldn’t be able to get the deal. “If you don’t want to save on your energy bill, that’s not my problem,” he told me.

    I told him I wasn’t interested and went back inside to call ConEdison. Their rep told me that through an energy choice program, consumers can pick their energy supplier and still have ConEd provide the service. (You’d get a ConEdison bill every month, but the costs would change depending on which supplier you chose). She cautioned me, however, that with energy price caps set to expire in July, switching doesn’t necessarily mean saving.

    So I hightailed it online to check out IDT’s Web site. Turns out, the service everyone else in my building had signed up for is a horrific deal. It commits you to a year of variable rate service before you can switch (a fact not mentioned by the rep). The savings touted by the rep are only temporary – i.e., that month’s rates.

    I got a few of my neighbors to get the rep to rip up their applications, but most people didn’t. The next day, I complained to IDT that they were taking advantage of non-English speakers by not fully explaining the offer before signing people up. Their response? The reps are well trained. I must have misunderstood or misheard. “

  6. Ben Popken says:

    Mandy writes:

    “Hi, your friendly state government worker here again. Everyone that has been misled by this company should also file a complaint with their state utility authority. For NY, the address is: Bonus! You can complain to them about cell phone companies, cable companies, and VoIP. The site is very entertaining as well. Click on complaint statistics and you’ll find the “cramming and slamming” link. And for those not living in NY, here’s a link to all the other states’ utility commissions.

  7. EnergyMaven says:

    Ben is right on the money. First, call Con Ed and tell them you don’t want to be with IDT. They should be able to switch you back. They will log the complaint as a “slam” but won’t follow up on it. (Technically, this isn’t a slam as the switch was authorized, but it was based on misleading information so it’s close enough.)

    Also, call IDT and tell them. They use outside salespeople to market door-to-door and these people are often prone to lying just to get the sale. The company doesn’t condone it, and you may get a bad rep pulled off the streets.

    While the first two posters said to speak to Attorney General, in this case, the Public Service Commission is the place to go with complaints.

  8. nastra says:

    i understand where some of u guys come from, but come on be for real, u people shouldn`t judge a company if u dont know what its really about, if u people knew about the law of deragulation that the goverment put out so people could choose their own supplier of energy like IDT. We live in a country of freedowm and thats what its all about, listen to this, con ed chooses a energy supplier for us, no i want to choose my own supplier and thats what i did when a nice rep came to my door and politely explained what he was telling me about delivery and supply, people put ur heads together, we cant change con ed even if we wanted to. Con ed delivers energy, they dont supply. Ive had IDT energy for about 2 years and their doing fine by me, con ed is still sending me a bill, and best of all for those who dont know con ed is still delivering my energy to my home, all im saying that choosing an energy supplier like IDT, econnergy, hudson, us energy inc, etc… is the smart choice, trust me, i have IDT for like about 2 years and is doing fine, just dont judge besides con ed tell u in the bill that is ok to choose an energy supplier its smart….dont forget we are in a country of freedom so why not go for it…..take care….

  9. nastra says:

    IDT is doing great by me, besides con ed still deliver my energy, IDT supply and con ed Deliver, im satisfied….. and thats just the bottom line……

  10. Scottzz says:

    Ans IDT sale rep show up a my door a few days ago promising “At least a 7% savings every month.” Thet hit my whole neighborhood and like me fell for it…..until you read the back of the contract….which you DO NOT see until they are gone… The savings is for TWO months ONLY and then you are back to where you started….at a variable rate. NOW…try to cancel……Nice try…..the number is ALWAYS BUSY….. I sent an e-mail with a threat, so lets see what happens. IF they switch me….there will be hell to pay. They are CON-Artists and Liars.

  11. Jamah says:

    In most cases, you’ll have a certain number of days to rescind any enrollment with an ESCO (Energy Service Company) penalty free. You can contact the ESCO directly or the LDC (Local Distribution Company e.g. Con Ed, Keyspan, National Fuel etc.) to cancel your enrollment. Keep in mind that while the salesperson represents both their company and the ESCO, your bad experience has to do with the salesperson directly & not necessarily with ESCO that hired his/her firm. I would recommend directing your complaints to the door-2-door sales firm via the ESCO & public service commission. Most of these salespersons have some sort of ID badge or other identifying information on their uniforms/attire. You definitely want the persons name and ID # if applicable.

    This is a link the to the EnergyGuide for Con Ed’s service territory. Listed are Con Ed’s rates and the rates of NYPSC approved suppliers.