The alternative supplier said what????

20150422_ScamAlert_enewsA former CUB co-worker relayed this bizarre, fraudulent phone pitch he received from an alternative supplier–we’ll call the company “ACME IL Electricity.” This is a good example of the kinds of reports we get every week from Illinois consumers.

My notes are in red.

Alternative Supplier: “I’m calling from (ACME IL Electricity) under ComEd to verify the discount you will be getting next month.” (Not true–alternative suppliers aren’t “under ComEd”)

Former CUBbie: “Oh really?”

Alternative Supplier: “Yes, I just need to verify your bill number and then I will transfer you to a licensed specialist from ComEd to give you the rate reduction.”

Former CUBbie: “How much will I save?”

Alternative Supplier: “You will save 30 percent.” (Not true)

Former CUBbie: “Really, my bill will be 30 percent lower?”

Alternative Supplier: “Yes.” (Not true)

Former CUBbie: “What will the rate be?”

Alternative Supplier: “7.19 cents” (ComEd’s rate is lower–6.987 cents per kilowatt-hour.)

Former CUBbie: “And how long will my discount last?”

Alternative Supplier: “It will start next month and so on.”

Former CUBbie: “And so on?”

Alternative Supplier: “Yes.”

Former CUBbie: “And what is the name of your company?”

Alternative Supplier: It is the energy savings department  of (ACME IL Electricity) under ComEd.

Former CUBbie: “You’re calling from ComEd?”

Alternative Supplier: “Yes, we are with ComEd.” (Not true)

Former CUBbie: “So why do you need to call me?”

Alternative Supplier: “To make sure you are not part of government assistance… because those people are not eligible for discounts.” (Not true)

Former CUBbie: “What is your relationship with ComEd?”

Alternative Supplier: “We are responsible to process the rate reductions for ComEd customers.” (Not true)

Former CUBbie: “You were hired by ComEd?”

Alternative Supplier: “Yes, ComEd. I just need to verify your bill number to transfer you to a licensed ComEd specialist to reduce your rate.” (Not true)

I count at least seven falsehoods in this short conversation. My former CUB co-worker–a wise mentor–did NOT give out his account number, because that would have allowed the alternative supplier to sign him up, even if he didn’t want the “deal.”

ComEd will NEVER call up to pitch a “discount” to you. Beware of bad deals in Illinois’ electricity market. This is why CUB’s legal and policy teams have spent months trying to improve consumer protections in Illinois’ power market.

Beware of these pitfalls:

Exorbitant rates. Find out what the company is charging and how that compares with the utility rates.  ComEd is charging under 7 cents per kWh right now.

Low introductory rates that disappear: Introductory rates can shoot up after a short period. Ask if the rate is an intro rate, how long it lasts, and what the new rate will be.

Extra fees: Always ask if there is a monthly fee, and factor that into the per kilowatt-hour (kWh) price.

Punishing exit fees: Many suppliers charge exit fees if a customer leaves a plan before the contract is up. Under the law, customers are allowed to leave a contract without paying an exit fee within 10 days after the date of the first bill.

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About Jim Chilsen

Jim is director of communications for the Citizens Utility Board (CUB)
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2 Responses to The alternative supplier said what????

  1. Sometimes the customer mishears or misremembers. I know that when I worked for an alt supplier, I always said that we were a supplier operating under the Nicor Customer Select or the analagous People’s program. Some customers would then say “You’re not from Nicor/ People’s. Where’s your truck? How come Nicor/People’s is not on your uniform?” etc. Or, they would later complain to the utility that we claimed to be from the utility,, even though we never did.
    It’s just that we operate under a “Nicor/People’s program” (true) and we wore a cleverly designed blue “servicey” looking uniform and carried a metal clipboard…. people imagined that we claimed to be from the utility. I can understand why. The whole nature of the private supplier program is bound to cause confusion even when you are telling the truth.

  2. Ken says:

    I’ve even had these people coming to the door, asking to see my ComEd bill.
    Even if they did offer a legitimate savings, I don’t think it would beat the rates I am getting through ComEd’s Real Time Pricing

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