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The dog ate….their credibility

Yep, we thought the old "dog ate my homework excuse" was pretty funny too!

Yep, we thought the old “dog ate my homework” excuse was pretty jaw-dropping too!

In 15 years at CUB, I’ve heard my share of goofy pitches from alternative gas/electric suppliers. But I never thought I’d hear of sales reps pulling the old “dog ate my homework” excuse to try to close a deal.

Recently we received a complaint from Scott of Downers Grove, who said a man and a woman came to his door on Aug. 18 to tell him he qualified for a new “green energy program” through ComEd/Nicor Gas. They said they merely wanted to “verify” the notification that he had received in his utility bills.

“After saying I didn’t see the notifications, both acted like I was living under a rock and maintained that this was a utility decision and this was just a formality,” Scott wrote in a complaint to CUB.

He brought out his ComEd bill, but the two people couldn’t show him where the notification was. He asked them if they had a copy of this elusive notification, and their response qualifies them for CUB’s “Slimy Electric/Gas Marketing Hall of Fame.”

“They said their last copy was ‘accidentally dropped and ripped to shreds by a dog in the neighborhood,'” Scott wrote.

Although the man and woman assured him three times that this “program” wouldn’t impact his rates, Scott eventually discovered that  1) the two weren’t from any utility company; 2) they were sales reps for an alternative supplier; and 3) the power price offered was higher than ComEd’s rate.

“This basically ended the conversation, with my ripping away my ComEd bill from his hands and shutting the door,” Scott wrote. “I don’t think he wrote down my account number, but I can’t be sure…”

Warning: Don’t give out your bill or account number to anyone before you’re sure you actually want to take part in an offer. Beware of people coming to your door claiming to be or implying that they are from the utility. Utilities don’t sell products door-to-door. If you’re unsure, ask, like Scott did, if the people at your door are from the utility. Don’t hesitate to ask to see a utility company ID, and/or call the utility company to see if it has personnel in your area.

Read why CUB is requesting that state regulators investigate Illinois’ electric market–and how regulators are already taking action against one company. Also, read our special fact sheets on Illinois’ competitive gas and electric markets for Nicor, Peoples Gas/North Shore, ComEd and Ameren customers.

And answer our quick poll about how much faith you have in the electric market today.