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What’s it like at a CUB event?

Yami (left) and Matt talk to a consumer about CFL light bulbs at a resource fair in South Chicago. Click the image to see where we’ll be next!

By Matt Kulling, CUB Communications Assistant 

When I was asked to attend a few CUB events out in the field, I didn’t know what to expect. I heard from the staffers in our outreach department that events were eye-opening and fun experiences, but I had no idea what was in store for me.

At both of the events I attended, one in Logan Square and one in South Chicago, I was surprised by the grace and knowledge the staff had when fielding all kinds of questions.

In Logan Square at a back-to-school fair, outreach intern Anairis seamlessly transitioned from answering questions about CUB’s mission to taking inquiries on how to deal with alternative suppliers knocking on your front door. Oh, and did I mention she did those in both Spanish AND English?

I only speak basic conversational Spanish, but I could always make out one phrase from inquiring consumers: “Gracias por su ayuda” which means “thanks for your help.”

At a resource fair in South Chicago, CUB staffer Yami gave consumers information on rebates for energy efficient appliances, tips on home energy savings and Illinois’ new community solar program.

Of the dozens of people who came to our table, several of them commended CUB for our work, or to tell a story about how CUB’s services, mainly the Consumer Hotline (1-800-669-5556), helped them resolve an issue with a utility.

One couple came up to our table and said they had used the hotline to resolve a billing dispute they had with ComEd.

CUB intern Anairis handing out information at a back-to-school fair in Logan Square.

“We didn’t know what to do, and then we got your number from 311 and you handled the problem right away, so thank you,” one of them told me.

One consumer stormed our table and said, “You guys are the scam artists right? A bunch of my neighbors wasted tons of money signing up with you.”

I was confused. Then, quick on her feet, Yami said, “I think you have us confused with someone else. Alternative suppliers maybe?  We’re a consumer advocacy group that helps people with utilities. Check out some of the fact sheets and information we brought along.” I couldn’t believe gracefully she handled the situation.

Another couple approached our table and proudly announced they had been CUB members almost from the day we opened our doors in 1984 (and nearly a decade before I was even born!) “Keep up the good work!” one of them said as they strolled by.

Most of the time I’m chained to my desk in our Chicago office writing press releases, scheduling social media posts and answering calls from consumers, so it’s difficult to gauge the impact of the work we’re doing. Are people listening to what CUB has to say? Is our information useful? Are consumers appreciative? The answer to all these is a resounding YES.

If you’re even half as impressed with the work CUB accomplishes as I am, I encourage you to help us in the fight against higher utility bills and bad deals.