Power Company Apologizes For Charging Customers For Sending Them CFLs They Didn't Ask For

No doubt “taking” the backlash “seriously,” the Maryland power company that sent customers unsolicited CFL lightbulbs, and then silently charged them $.96/month for it, has apologized. The company will appear before the Maryland Public Service Commission tomorrow for a hearing. “We stand ready to take whatever corrective actions are deemed necessary by the commission,” Allegheny Power President said. Yes, they’re probably going to tell you to refund people’s money, you jackasses.

Allegheny apologizes for lightbulb upset [FredrickNewsPost]
PREVIOUSLY: Maryland Electric Company Sends You Unsolicited Light Bulbs, Charges $12


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  1. MercuryPDX says:

    [Nelson] HA ha! [/Nelson]

    Next up in “Fat Chance” stories…

    “In order to receive your refund, please return the unused bulbs to….”

  2. joemono says:

    Someone in the other thread about this mentioned that once something is sent to you in the mail (and in this case even when not requested) it’s yours. Is that true?

  3. JohnMc says:

    And they can keep the light bulbs for free right??

  4. cmdr.sass says:

    @joemono: Yes, you cannot be forced to pay for unsolicited products. They are gifts. If you think junk mail is bad now, think of how much worse it would be if any old company could send you anything it wanted COD.

  5. MoCo says:

    “Allegheny sent 220,000 customers two energy-efficient bulbs, billing $11.52 for them in 12 monthly payments of 96 cents.”

    For that price, I can buy at least a half dozen of those bulbs at Costco or Home Depot.

  6. vastrightwing says:

    This was not Allegheny Power trying to sell anyone anything. This was a rate increase they were hoping to pass off on their consumers by deception. I think they were hoping enough people would think 96 cents was not worth complaining about and the few people who complained, so what. Allegheny Power thought they convinced the commission, who sets rates, that this was some kind of conservation program they could pass on to the consumers. Fault lies with the commission for approving this “program”… as well as with Allegheny Power for the con.

  7. QuantumRiff says:

    Not only the refunds, but probably also the cost of retrieving unused bulbs, and disposal. I find it funny that it is so difficult to dispose of CFL’s. I know that at our local home depot, you can take them in, and they will dispose of them for you, but they can’t have a bin for them up front, since they might get thrown in, broken, and release mercury..

  8. vastrightwing says:

    The next con is what Dominion Energy (www.dom.com) is doing to me and their customers. They have enrolled me for a 3 month FREE trial electrical maintenance program for only $3.50/month. I can choose to opt out before the end of the trial, however.

    Instead, I’m not going to opt out, but will call them and demand they remove this fee after the 3 month FREE trial is over. These utilities are outrageous. I wish I could force people to buy something first and then make them ask me to return it.

  9. JohnMc says:

    QUANTUMRIFF, well its a give and take. The coal that is burned to produce the electricity contains mercury in trace amunts as well. So the difference between the Incandescent and the CFL in mercury release is probably about equal to what a broken CFL bulb would release.

  10. mupethifi says:

    whenever possible, DONT USE CFL’s! G.E> wants you to belive they are better for the enviorment when they aren’t at all. They have all the big corp.s pushing them, but aren’t doing their homework. They harm the consumer (i guess killing them over time from mercury exposre is one way to help the enviorment)and mercury is put into the earth everytime soeone doest recycle them!

  11. Roadkill says:

    @mupethifi: [Citation Needed]

  12. dgcaste says:

    Roadkilll, they don’t release small amounts of mercury, but if they shatter they immediately release all of the mercury into the atmosphere. [www.focusonenergy.com]

  13. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    So Cal Edison did the same thing to me and my family. When my grandfather passed away my mother took over his house. We still own it and are living in it. They (Edison) enrolled us in some maintnance plan for plugs or something stupid. They are charging more than that $3.50 a month. When we asked them to stop they said no because the bill was still in my grandfathers name. To stop it we have to pay a fee to have the name changed to my mother plus produce evidence of his death.

    He’s dead. If I show you a certificate why do you need money on top of that? Processing is what click click type type click click done? Takes 2 minutes away from solitaire which must = $30 of work.


  14. Mr. Gunn says:

    dgcaste: Aw Jeez, not this shit again.

    Even if I didn’t already know that the microscopic amount of mercury in a CFL wasn’t worth worrying about, all I’d need to do is read mupethifi‘s comment and I would know what side to believe.

    The fool’s argument is as often given away by style as content.

  15. ripple says:

    And the mercury that went into making them CAME from the Earth, so how is it bad to put it BACK in the Earth

  16. CyGuy says:


    You’re not considering the additional mercury produced by power plants to generate the additional electricity needed to power incandescent bulbs (and to cool buildings heated by the was heat from incandescent bulbs).

    Because of this, cver their lifetime, CFLs – even if tossed into a landfill, will release less net mercury into the environment than an incandescent built providing the same amount of light. [www.energyrace.com]

  17. goodkitty says:

    @vastrightwing: What does the maintenance program do? Do they massage the electrons before they go into your house so they’re more vibrant? Can you take a sledgehammer to an outlet and call them to come fix it? That might be nice if you have some of those old, tired GFI outlets that are way expensive to replace.

  18. CarlR says:

    Actually, I’ll be shocked if the MD Public Service Commission does anything but say “good job” – their program was APPROVED by the PSC in September.

    They’ve approved a bunch of these programs for just about every electric utility in the state. Most of these are even worse than Allegheny Power’s program – some of them automatically charge you to pay for discounts at merchants that may not even exist in your area. I’m going to be paying almost $15 over the next 5 years, for the privilege of saving $1.5 per bulb – if I can find a retailer who participates in the program.

  19. AnnC says:

    @socalrob: Well, since the bill is under your grandfather’s name than you tell them to charge your grandfather.

  20. croeso says:

    Not only is the power company engaging in a sleazy and underhanded practice, they’re ripping their customers off
    big time on the alleged cost of those CFL bulbs! In California these bulbs are sold in stores at two for a dollar under a program subsidized by our power company, Pacific Gas and Electric. 96 cents should have paid for those two bulbs IN FULL in one month… but only if the customers wanted them.

  21. goller321 says:

    There definitely needs to by punitive measures taken against this company…

  22. forgottenpassword says:


    ohhhhh… ok. I was trying to figure out why a power company would do the whole “send unsolicited product to customers & then bill them” scheme…. it just seemed stupid for a comapny to do. But now I see. Thanks for the explanation.

    IMO ANY utility company who resorts to this kind of crap needs to be replaced & never be in the utility business again. WHen you dont have a choice in utility companies you use…. you are at a serious disadvantage & the utility has just destroyed ANY trust the public had in them when they do sleazy crap like this.

    Same goes for government agencies who want a tax on the public & when it is voted down by the public… the government agency attempts to do some “creative lawmaking” in order to basically get what it wants. I think i read something about west virginias insanely large traffic offense fines were the result of people voting down new tax proposals. [www.washingtonpost.com]

  23. Caroofikus says:

    @joemono: Here in Wyoming, it’s legally considered a gift if someone sends you something in the mail like that. The only exception is if it was intended for another person, then you ahve to pay for it or send it back (at their expense).

  24. forgottenpassword says:


    I remember seeing PSAs when I was a child (in missouri) saying pretty much the same thing. It was along the lines that you can keep something if it was delivered to you & unsolicited. The commercial showed an eskimo recieving a fan in the mail & smiling.

  25. Shadowman615 says:

    Is “CFL Lightbulb” the same kind of redundancy as “ATM Machine” or “PIN Number?”

  26. squidbrain says:

    …mercury put into the earth everytime someone doesn’t recycle them…

    And that mercury comes from … outer space??