Wednesday, December 5, 2007

US Energy / NICOR Gas Scam - What They Really Want (and Why NICOR Won't Help You)

Late Sunday afternoon, a man in a US Energy jacket and a NICOR cap came to my door. He introduced himself as being from US Energy, but had a conspicuous NICOR label on his clipboard. He asked to see a copy of my gas bill.

I couldn't think why he would need that.

He explained that NICOR had sent him, because the company was planning a rate hike, but that if I "qualified" they wouldn't be able to raise my rates, and he needed to see my gas bill to determine whether or not I qualified. US Energy, he said, actually supplied the gas; NICOR just supplied the lines. "A lot of people don't know that," he said, and launched into an explanation of the utility's structure. I didn't care all that much and I'm not at all sure that it was accurate, but it sounded very official.

I learned early in my career that letting people know I was on to them was a bad way to gather information, so I asked as innocently as possible, "Doesn't NICOR have that information?" Well, yes, he conceded that they did, but it was up to US Energy to find out whether or not I was qualified to avoid that rate hike.

I couldn't help myself. I asked why they didn't get the information from NICOR.

He said it was because I was the one who had the paper copy of my bill. So, yeah, of course, that made perfect sense. Who would want to get a database import file with sortable information all in one place when they could go door to door on a cold Sunday afternoon, wait on the porch while people hunted up their gas bills, and then check one paper bill after another?

He flipped convincingly through the pages on his clipboard, creating more confusion. See, he'd told me more than once that he just needed to LOOK at my bill, yet someone's gas bills were attached to his clipboard. And he wasn't carrying a copy machine. I guess the gas bills he carried were meant to show me that other people were handing theirs over, but instead it showed me that he was carrying props...if his story were accurate, those gas bills would have been returned to their rightful owners by now.

I told him (truthfully) that I paid my gas bill online and I didn't have a paper copy of my bill. He asked if maybe I could print one out. (So much for that whole "because you're the one who has the paper bill" thing, hm?)

He said he'd come back.

Monday morning, I called NICOR. The customer service rep at NICOR confirmed that NICOR hadn't sent him, and asked whether I'd signed up with US Energy. Apparently, this is the company's standard approach to getting people to switch their service. As soon as I said I hadn't, though, NICOR lost interest. When I pointed out that these people were going around defrauding people in their name, NICOR said there was nothing they could do about it.

"It's fraud," I said. "It's illegal."

"Well, then," she told me, "you'd have to call the Citizen's Utility Board or the Better Business Bureau or someone like that. We have to remain neutral."

They have to remain neutral.

US Energy, certainly, is dirty. The man on my porch told me at least two direct lies in an effort to divert my business, and the extensive misleading props he carried and wore (along with his repetition of the same information in different words in response to my questions) made it clear that it wasn't just a spur of the moment departure or a case of accidental misspeaking. It's clearly a dishonest business practice and very probably a crime.

But who are the good guys? Why does NICOR "have to remain neutral" when it knows that an outside company is using its name to defraud NICOR customers? It seems to me quite the opposite, actually. I haven't had the chance to research it yet, but it seems to me that if NICOR knows that someone is holding himself (or themselves) out as representing NICOR in order to perpetrate fraud and chooses not to act on that, it's a ratification that just might mean NICOR is just as liable to its defrauded consumers as US Energy.

Definitely bears further investigation.

59 comments:

usws said...

Actually, how would looking at your your bill help them in diverting your business? It's not like they can threaten you with the bill or something. Darn, maybe i'm just sleepy and can't really get the whole picture.

BYE!

http://usws.isgreat.org

RockStories said...

I think, USWS, that the goal is to get a look at your gas bill and say, "Wow! You're paying way too much! You know, if you got your gas directly from us..." Or perhaps to say that you do "qualify to avoid the rate hike", and all you have to do is sign up to get service from them directly...

Anonymous said...

To make this plain and simple. Nicor is like Jewels (the grocery store). U.S. Energy is like Jays potato chips. They can sell their gas through any supplier that the state allows. U.S. Energy is a 3rd party company based in Canada. They look at your bills to get your account # which is only 10 digits and thats all they need to sign you up. Nicor can't control what they do because they are a completely different company. Only the government can control what they do.

RockStories said...

That's actually not quite accurate, anonymous. U.S. Energy is representing itself as having been sent by NICOR. If that's true, the company is acting as NICOR's agent and NICOR has authority. If it's not true (which appears to be the case), then U.S. Energy is fraudulently representing itself as representing NICOR. That's fraud, both civil and criminal, should NICOR choose to act on it. They've chosen not to.

techfun said...

There is a whole industry out there that uses temps to do big sweeps like this to try to snare unsuspecting consumers.

At my last job, I was managing both the tech support and customer service/billing departments for a while around the time we transformed from an ISP to an ISP Telecom that could sell long distance service to Verizon (local telecom) customers.

We were approached by several slime bags who offered to do the kind of door to door neighborhood canvassing to try to get people to switch.

Thats one reason why the FCC instituted 3PV rules to prevent "slamming" or switching peoples phone carrier without consent. I wonder if the similar rules are in place for other utilities at the national level.

Oh yea, 3PV = Third Party Verification - the service we used verified that a customer did want to switch their local toll and long distance servivce and stored that confirmation as an audio file that we could use in court if a customer accused us of slamming.

Gerri said...

Wow. This whole story just floors me. How freakin' sneaky! And I can't believe that NICOR chooses to just do nothing about it.

I absolutely can not stand strangers coming to my door unannounced, for any reason.

This is just over the top.

BVD said...

I've been doing fixed price contracs for my business for the past five years, and all these programs do is essentially freze the price of your natural gas for a 4-5 year period.... These programs are offered in Illinois, New York, Texas, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and offer customers the peace of mind of knowing exactly what they're paying for they're paying for their natural gas.

If these people did not do their jobs, I would not have known the benefits of a 5 year fixed price.

Perhaps the reason your local utility (Nicor) doesn't "do anything" about it is because deregulation makes sense. if your mind wasn't so closed to the idea of a five year freeze then perhaps you'd understand the benefit of the program these the gentleman at your door are offering.

He has a "Sample" copy of your bill to show you what it looks like to have a "Fixed price" on your bill.

The ignorance that this blog is portraying to me is mind boggling.
Please do some reasearch the next time you decide to speak your mind

RockStories said...

BVD, I'm sorry that you didn't grasp the point here, but it just goes to show how easily people are taken in. The problem in this case wasn't what was being offered, but that the representative directly lied and said that he was representing NICOR. He made this misrepresentation repeatedly. Both NICOR and the Citizens Utility Board were very clear that he was not, and that he had no authorization to make that claim.

He didn't have a "sample copy" of a bill...he had a sheaf of bills.

His cap and his clipboard bore the NICOR logo.

You may be interested to know that since I originally made this post, another US Energy rep came by my house. This one was NOT wearing NICOR trappings and was NOT carrying dummy bills. When I explained my previous experience to him, he asked many questions and took notes, confirming that the misrepresentations made to me were illegal and that the Illinois Commerce Commission had been following up on a number of complaints that US Energy was firing the reps who were employing these dishonest and illegal tactics.

I guess the Illinois Commerce Commission and the higher-ups at US Energy are just closed minded and don't understand deregulation, hm?

I have to say that I feel sorry for the guys getting sacked, because I suspect that they were just doing what they were told, but there is no question that the representations made to me were intentionally false and illegal--and based on the reactions from NICOR and the Citizens Utility Board (and later from the new US Energy rep), there is no question that these illegalities were widespread within the company.

One more note--these companies do, in fact, lock in your GAS prices for a period of years, but you may be in for some surprises in terms of your "delivery" charges and the like, which are typically not protected by your contract. I hope it works out for you.

Anonymous said...

I just googled this company as I was led to believe the US Energy rep at my door was sent by National Fuel. I recieved an insanely large fuel bill yesterday and called National Fuel to find out what had happened. They informed me that the locked price that US Energy determined for me was actually much higher than the current market and I paid over 20% more just for the gas supplied. Don't even ask how much I still had to pay to National Fuel for delivery!
Anyways, turns out that National Fuel is in a major lawsuit against US Energy for misrepresenting their company and misleading customers. I called US Energy to be switched back as I was NOT saving money as they led me to believe would happen. They wanted me to pay a $1,000 early termination fee! CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS COMPANY!!!!!!!!!!!
After convincing them that if I were forced to pay a fee, i'd be contacting the Attorney General's Office and the Public Service Commission, they allowed me to break service with them. However, the catch...
National Fuel cannot send someone to read my meter for over a month, well into the next pay period. National Fuel will accept my reading as the customer, however, US Energy will not. I will have to pay this fraudulent company for a few more months.

When it's hard enough to drive to work and afford milk and bread for dinner, I definitely can't afford to pay an extra $100 a month for gas to heat my home.

Anonymous said...

One of their guys just tried the same thing here. I kept a copy of their contract and, after poking through it, tries to sign you to a 5 year agreement which would increase my average annual gas bill ~20%, plus quadruple the delivery charges. Hmmmm...

Anonymous said...

i actually work for nicor. they want the bill so they can get your token nicor account number and divert your business. they don't have to keep it, so long as they have it. we are to remain neutral on the situation and most of us find it more annoying to deal with alternate gas suppliers rather than "protective" over how they do their business. so there you have it.

Anonymous said...

They were just at my house yesterday wanting to look at my bill. I chatted with this hapless woman for a few minutes and said thanks but no thanks.

And "BVD" MSUT be a "concern troll' working for US Energy. Deregulation, my hairy butt.

- Bob

Anonymous said...

The reason they asked to see your bill, is because they need your account number, and the amount of a recent bill in order to sign you up for service. I worked for n$cor gas for a few years, and seen a lot of slamming, a lot of people being locked in at over $1 a therm when our price was $0.60 a therm.

Also it probably wasn't illegal for him to identify himself as Nicor, because Nicor has an unregulated sister company, Nicor Services, and Nicor Energy, and such, that allow other companies to use their names and logos. the regulated public utility is never doing anything wrong, because the unregulated sister companies do it for them.

Also these energy suppliers, pay Nicor's unregulated sister companies money, which gets back to Nicor Inc. which is also not regulated, because Northern Illinois gas Company D/B/A Nicor Gas, is regulated on profit, and what they can do as a public trust, where their sister companies Are Not.

Anonymous said...

I have been signed up with US energy for over 4 years. I negotiated fixed price of .75 cent per therm. I felt this was a fair price in fact, as prices of gas fluctuate it may be in your best intererst to go with a fixed price. I recall in 2004 and 2005 my brother was paying anywhere from $1 to $1.15 per therm with Nicor. The market will determine Nicors price per therm and right now with the economy in the slump people will pay as noted above .60 cents per therm. Don't let this fool you the price will go up again and I will be smiling that I know my cost will not increase. In fact, when I moved I got US energy to extend my contract because the inadvertantly canceled my account.

Anonymous said...

December 10, 2008

I would like to expose what I believe is a huge misrepresentation on the part of U.S. Energy Savings (USES), which is an Energy Service Company (ESCO), in the way they conduct business.

My wife and I switched our gas and electric supply from National Grid and ConEdison respectively to US Energy Savings. The latter's modus operandi is basically like this: They sent an independent contractor who was visiting all the homes in our neighborhood. She warned that we may be paying too much for our energy supply and that she knew a way to save us money. Naturally, when the economy is in a recession and you're stretching every dollar to be able to pay your bills, you are willing to listen to this kind of pitch. Furthermore, the representative proceeded to elaborate on the three misrepresentations which are, first, that there would be no term or that it would be open term and we were free to change USES at any time. Second, that there would be no fee whatsoever if and when we switched from USES, and third, that if and when the energy supply rate dropped, our rate would adjust automatically. All three proved to be false consequently when we called USES.

I am a big skeptic and when this representative made these big promises to my wife and me, I made it a point to ask the questions over and over again, ad nauseam. I stopped short of recording our conversation; in hindsight, I think I should have. Moreover, when the switch to USES was finally reflected on our gas bill, I compared the rate of National Grid to that of USES and to my shock and dismay, the latter's was higher by 50 cents. This adds up to a lot of money over time. Immediately, I called USES to question my findings and they told me that they "don't promise any savings." I tried to cancel our agreement and they refused, citing that my wife and I should have read the contract. I argued that we had an understanding with their representative, thus reaching an agreement. USES did not honor this, saying instead that the written agreement supersedes anything that was said. I mentioned a clause on the agreement regarding the "Extended Cancellation Period of 30 days from the date of our first bill" and they refused to honor that by saying that they have their own start date which is much sooner than the one reflected on the bill.

In conclusion, this is a disgrace. U.S. Energy Savings is preying on the public's quest to save on energy by enticing them and then changing the rules thereby hooking them for up to 5 years at higher rates.

Chicago Dad said...

Thanks for posting this blog. I received a letter from Nicor soliciting a 12-month fixed rate. Although that is a much more ethical way of soliciting business, all of the other potential pitfalls have me staying with the devil I know.

Thanks for your honest and objective observations, as well as the narratives of the other readers.

Anonymous said...

U.S Energy savings corp is a Gas supplier like many others that are out there such as Santana, Ambit, nicor advandced, nicor solutions, integreys,sparks etc. they all are gas suppliers that offer different options. some offer you a fix rate per therm. U.S. ENERGY offers you a lock in rate for 5 years so that your gas rate per therm stays the same, your rate per therm would be locked in for 5 years. NICOR gas works with these suplliers because NICOR GAS does NOT profit from the sale of Gas. WHY? because NICOR is regulated by the Illinoiscommerce commision and the price you pay for gas from nicor is passed on to the customers without mark up. NICOR only profits from Delivery charges that Are located on your gas bill every month. If you choose to go with another supplier such as U.S energy you will still continue to recieve a NICOR gas bill. with nicors delivery charges on one side and the suppliers charges on the other side. Nicor has to let this suppliers solicit becasue there options that are available to you.NICOR can't be a monopoly and take over everyone. NICOR GAS does not profit from the SALE of Gas...so if you choose a different supplier they will profit from you cause they will charge you and additional fee just for delivering the gas from a different supplier.. THATS HOW NICOR MAKEs MONEY both gas companies end up making a profit if you choose a different supplier..... U.S energy wants to look at your gas bill because they want to look at your account number meter number and all your informatiom is listed on your gas bill. NEVER EVER let anyone look at your gas bill or give your account number over the phone enless your your interested in the offer...always ask questions....like what is the rate per therm yur locking me at?...is there cancelation fee? it is very hard to cancel they give you the run around unitl your 30days are up so your required to pay a cancelation fee. I say it's best just to Stick with NICOR gas as your supplier and pay for the gas at the market price. Look at it this way..... its kinda like when you go to the gas station the prices are always changing.... but if you choose a different supplier they will lock in your rate so it stays the same.....but usual they lock you in at a very high rate like over $1 per therm... the price of gas for the month of feburary is 57cents per therm.... so you decided ...you eitheir lock in your rates or pay as the market goes up and down in gas prices... it's your option!!!! they all are legitimate companys...you just got to read the fine print in wrighting and not just by the words of the salesman...they work for commision, of course they are going to misrepresent....many sales man in this world are dirty they work for there commission.... my suggestion...READ the TERMS and condtions and ask quetions.....AND NEVER give out your account informaton, it holds all your confidental info...such as social, date, of birth address and much more. its not a scam its an option tha available to customers....just read the FIne print ..

Anonymous said...

U.S Energy savings corp is a Gas supplier like many others that are out there such as Santana, Ambit, nicor advandced, nicor solutions, integreys,sparks etc. they all are gas suppliers that offer different options. some offer you a fix rate per therm. U.S. ENERGY offers you a lock in rate for 5 years so that your gas rate per therm stays the same, your rate per therm would be locked in for 5 years. NICOR gas works with these suplliers because NICOR GAS does NOT profit from the sale of Gas. WHY? because NICOR is regulated by the Illinoiscommerce commision and the price you pay for gas from nicor is passed on to the customers without mark up. NICOR only profits from Delivery charges that Are located on your gas bill every month. If you choose to go with another supplier such as U.S energy you will still continue to recieve a NICOR gas bill. with nicors delivery charges on one side and the suppliers charges on the other side. Nicor has to let this suppliers solicit becasue there options that are available to you.NICOR can't be a monopoly and take over everyone. NICOR GAS does not profit from the SALE of Gas...so if you choose a different supplier they will profit from you cause they will charge you and additional fee just for delivering the gas from a different supplier.. THATS HOW NICOR MAKEs MONEY both gas companies end up making a profit if you choose a different supplier..... U.S energy wants to look at your gas bill because they want to look at your account number meter number and all your informatiom is listed on your gas bill. NEVER EVER let anyone look at your gas bill or give your account number over the phone enless your your interested in the offer...always ask questions....like what is the rate per therm yur locking me at?...is there cancelation fee? it is very hard to cancel they give you the run around unitl your 30days are up so your required to pay a cancelation fee. I say it's best just to Stick with NICOR gas as your supplier and pay for the gas at the market price. Look at it this way..... its kinda like when you go to the gas station the prices are always changing.... but if you choose a different supplier they will lock in your rate so it stays the same.....but usual they lock you in at a very high rate like over $1 per therm... the price of gas for the month of feburary is 57cents per therm.... so you decided ...you eitheir lock in your rates or pay as the market goes up and down in gas prices... it's your option!!!! they all are legitimate companys...you just got to read the fine print in wrighting and not just by the words of the salesman...they work for commision, of course they are going to misrepresent....many sales man in this world are dirty they work for there commission.... my suggestion...READ the TERMS and condtions and ask quetions.....AND NEVER give out your account informaton, it holds all your confidental info...such as social, date, of birth address and much more. its not a scam its an option tha available to customers....just read the FIne print ..

Anonymous said...

U.S Energy savings corp is a Gas supplier like many others that are out there such as Santana, Ambit, nicor advandced, nicor solutions, integreys,sparks etc. they all are gas suppliers that offer different options. some offer you a fix rate per therm. U.S. ENERGY offers you a lock in rate for 5 years so that your gas rate per therm stays the same, your rate per therm would be locked in for 5 years. NICOR gas works with these suplliers because NICOR GAS does NOT profit from the sale of Gas. WHY? because NICOR is regulated by the Illinoiscommerce commision and the price you pay for gas from nicor is passed on to the customers without mark up. NICOR only profits from Delivery charges that Are located on your gas bill every month. If you choose to go with another supplier such as U.S energy you will still continue to recieve a NICOR gas bill. with nicors delivery charges on one side and the suppliers charges on the other side. Nicor has to let this suppliers solicit becasue there options that are available to you.NICOR can't be a monopoly and take over everyone. NICOR GAS does not profit from the SALE of Gas...so if you choose a different supplier they will profit from you cause they will charge you and additional fee just for delivering the gas from a different supplier.. THATS HOW NICOR MAKEs MONEY both gas companies end up making a profit if you choose a different supplier..... U.S energy wants to look at your gas bill because they want to look at your account number meter number and all your informatiom is listed on your gas bill. NEVER EVER let anyone look at your gas bill or give your account number over the phone enless your your interested in the offer...always ask questions....like what is the rate per therm yur locking me at?...is there cancelation fee? it is very hard to cancel they give you the run around unitl your 30days are up so your required to pay a cancelation fee. I say it's best just to Stick with NICOR gas as your supplier and pay for the gas at the market price. Look at it this way..... its kinda like when you go to the gas station the prices are always changing.... but if you choose a different supplier they will lock in your rate so it stays the same.....but usual they lock you in at a very high rate like over $1 per therm... the price of gas for the month of feburary is 57cents per therm.... so you decided ...you eitheir lock in your rates or pay as the market goes up and down in gas prices... it's your option!!!! they all are legitimate companys...you just got to read the fine print in wrighting and not just by the words of the salesman...they work for commision, of course they are going to misrepresent....many sales man in this world are dirty they work for there commission.... my suggestion...READ the TERMS and condtions and ask quetions.....AND NEVER give out your account informaton, it holds all your confidental info...such as social, date, of birth address and much more. its not a scam its an option tha available to customers....just read the FIne print ..

Anonymous said...

I signed a contract for 5 years with us energy saving I paying 1.17 per therm and the current price is only .57 cent. the salesman told me if the price goes down your rate will adjust. But guess what??? it didn't!!!!! I'm paying a lot more than what I should be paying. It there I way I could cancel my contract with out paying the early termination fee?

Anonymous said...

I am in Frankfort, IL and US Energy visited our neighborhood today (a retirement community). The man represented himself as being "sent by Nicor" to obtain my latest gas bill so he could lock in my rate. I'm skeptical of everyone and felt the same as you--why in this day and age do you need to come to my door and get a paper bill? If you're really "with" Nicor they would provide the information to you. He showed me his clipboard and fanned through all the bills "he had already gotten from my neighbors." I said I needed time to look into this and could he come back in a week. Glad I found your post--was starting to think I had made a mistake, but am now very happy I did not give my bill.
Honestly, if a company wants to reduce your rate they just do it, they don't hire people to go door to door and say we want to reduce your rate, but show us that bill we just mailed to you a few weeks prior. Makes no sense.

USESC Independent Contract said...

As an USESC Independent Contractor, I am said to hear that you have been misinformed abour our products.

We have very recently changed the way we do things to make sure there is no confusion. Now we must make sure you understand everything fully at risk of losing our jobs.

What has happened to you folks is not USESC's fault. It is the IC's that have come to your door trying to make themselves a quick buck. We do not accept this in our company anymore, and anyone you report that has given false information is given two chances. On the second complaint, they are let go.

We pride ourselves in our customer service, and your understanding of what we are doing. We are proud to represent the states we work in, and the people we protect.

However, when you do not read a contract fully, ask questions, and listen to the customer service call that is given, you can be mislead.

Yet again I am sorry this has happened to you. We are also never supposed to say that we are involved in your local utiity. (In your case NICOR, in our case, NIPSCO.) NICOR and many other companies also provide these plans too, but they usually have program fees, or hidden fees. USESC's Idependent contractors must explain everything to you, and I'm quite sure all of you were told about the fee.

As well as, gas fluctuates. if your gas is higher during the summer, because of a gas drop, when it spikes again in the winter this program is a benefit.

Bluntly put, calling a 1.7 billion dollar company that is being asked to come into states and protect people from gas spikes and hikes a scam shows how little you knew when you signed on, and thats no one's fault but YOUR OWN.

If you had waited a few years down the road or locked in now when gas rates are historically lowered, or even called an had your rates lowered (they can do that once for you, its called blend and extend, I believe para. 9 in your contract) you would of noticed a beneficial change.

So if you got hurt byt this I'm sorry, but in the future, don't be ignorant and post rants about a good company on here.

We listened to your complaints, and we have changed and grown our company from it.

Thank you.
Idependent Contractor 276xxx,
Indiana.

Anonymous said...

Another NICOR SCAM
http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/433/RipOff0433899.htm
Nicor dba
-Hawthorne Heating in Wauconda
-D.m. Dykstra in crestwood
-Trade Winds in Naperville.
forwarded paperwork to AG of illinois. Posting and linking everywhere I can.
They are SCUMBAGS.

Anonymous said...

worked there for two days before i realized the scam. best advice, DONT DO IT. Theres a reason why the high ups show off their lamborghinis and employees are walking door to door. If its legit, why have they been sued for millions.
Close the door, if it sounds to good to be true, well you know the rest.

Anonymous said...

point of interest, EVERYBODY qualifies, employees just look at the bill to make it look legit, they only send teams, yes teams, out to areas they know are easy pickings, are you easy pickings ?

Anonymous said...

They look at your bill to tell you that you are "Qualify" for rate protection. Everyone qualifies, they just want to look at the bill to tell you this. Then they bust out the contract to lock you in at a rate for the next 5 years. They bank on the natural gas price going up past your locked in rate and then you save money. The thing is, no one know what the natural gas price is going to do. They say, look at the gas price, it has always gone up and will continue.

If you have a bad balance with Nicor then you will not be accepted into the program. The agent at your door knows nothing about your qualifications until he or she sees if they got paid for signing you up.

They are not supposed to say they are from Nicor or work for Nicor nor have any patches on clothing illustrating that they work for Nicor. Same goes for Peoples Gas.

They have changed their approach since all the complaints. Their enrollment process is much stricter now. Once you sign up "sign the contract" you must call with the agent a # to validate your signup. You get on the phone and the phone operator asks if you understand everything that is going on. These calls are recorded. Once you say yes, and agree to your signature, the agent is then given the phone to a FPRC # that is generated so they may write it on the contract that you signed. Now they have a signature, and verbal confirmation that you agree to pay the locked in rate that you signed up for.

They are a legit company, it's anyone's guess if you will save money with them. It's if the market price will go above your locked in rate. That's the if that you are gambling with. If the market price doesn't go past your locked in rate then you will loose money.

Anonymous said...

They are now operating under the new name of Just Energy Corp. I looked very closely at one of their contracts. Section 17 of their contract gives them the right to temperarily raise the per therm gas price, or suspend the contract. The contract seems one sided. If they can not supply the gas at the contract price, they have a way out.

Rob said...

I live in Chicago, and I had the guy with the Nicor logos on his uniform show up, asking to see my bill, same as you've described. My steadfast rule is, unless I have invited somebody to my house, they don't get anything from me. Even if I can't figure out what the scam is, it seems like there always is one. I swear, I'll probably close the door on the census people when they come.

Today, I got a letter from Nicor, with an "amazing" offer. I can save $0.05c/therm through October of this year if I switch over, and then it becomes the market rate (however they determine that) + $0.19/therm. Supposedly it's month-to-month after that, but pardon me if I'm dubious.

Thanks for this blog entry, it was very helpful.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. I had signed a 5 year contract yesterday, but canceled this morning. I am uncomfortable with 5 years, even if the rates were pretty low.

pharmnet said...

I think US Energy is now Just Energy. The contract length is just too long for my comfort.

Anonymous said...

The reason why these people even exist is because Nicor has major problems getting there bills correct to there customers

gttdkt said...

Just had a very nice salesman make his pitch for Just Energy. We signed the contract. But when we talked with the representative on the phone (who was recording our understandingj as part of the contract), what the guy on the phone said DID NOT MATCH what the salesman said in person.

We tore up the contract. Seemed too mousey to us.

Anonymous said...

Yes it is Just energy now. They do go door to door, and offer price protection for next 5 years. I think right now they said they will protect your price at .79 cents a therm for the next 5 years.

Here's where they get you, they are offering a green energy option. Which they say will offset, your emission caused by burning natural gas from your home. They are using the green energy hype to there advantage. To go 100% green, and be price protected it is a $1.04 a therm. They will not tell you about the .79 cents a therm for a few reasons. If a customer signs up for just the price protection on natural gas, they make $50, now if the customer signs up for natural gas and green energy the make a $100. Which is good money, so they are going to try to sell you everything, to put money in there pocket. You can't blame them they are trying to make a living too. Plus customers are smart, and the general population doesn't enjoy door to door sales anymore. S they do put up with alot of sales.

Now they will also tell you they are not sales people, they are simply there to inform you about price protection. Don't be fooled they are sales people, if they weren't they wouldn't be making commision off of each customer, and the wouln't have to try to get people to sign up.

So yes, .79 cents a therm for next 5 years is a nice thought and probably a good idea. But don't get pulled in to all the other stuff. I found out all this information from a guy who worked there, he was drinking at poppadeux in westmont, IL. He was drunk, and showing off his paychck which was 3000 for one week. He said they have training courses in sales, roleplaying, and some people in there office make upwards of 500000 a year, so I don't know if this is legit, or it is a scam, I am just telling you what I heard, this was just last saturday. If they make that much it is a good program or a bad program and really good sales person. Tell me what you think

Anonymous said...

Better Buisness Bearue gives them a grade of F. Now it has been ahile since I been in school, but I think an F is fail

Anonymous said...

A person who identified herself as a USESC employee was in my house this evening. My roommate was coming home and she began talking to him outside, and he let her in the house. She was talking to my roommate about how we could save money on gas and electric. He provided her with the electric bill, and she was explaining that by signing up with USESC, we could save 1% on a multiplier for our electric bill. She was writing information down on a form.

She was well-dressed and well-spoken, and her manner was very professional. She showed a badge which I did not get a good look at, but it appeared to have a photograph on it. She did fumble a little bit when we asked her about exactly how we could save money on energy.

She requested the account number for our gas bill (it's in my name, not his), but I declined, stating that we'd have to talk with our other household members, and could she leave a number and her name. She provided us with a glossy flyer about their green energy credit offset program, which had the usesc.com website and a toll-free number on it, and provided us with a name, presumably her first name, and an ID number.

I certainly hope that we do not get any nasty surprises on our next electric bill, but we did not agree to anything. I'm actually going to grab the ripped-up form from the garbage can and hold on to it just in case.

My suspicions were raised by, I couldn't imagine a legitimate company knowingly sending people door-to-door in my neighbourhood. My immediate neighbourhood isn't particularly dangerous (it's mostly older people on my street), but there's too high a risk of assault or mugging, etc. for employees of any company to go door-to-door without knowing in advance which houses are "safe". Even the pizza delivery guy down the street is a bit nervous with delivering to some of the houses around here. Regardless of whether she was knowingly trying to scam us or not, I worry for her personal safety. It's a hard and sometimes dangerous living making door-to-door sales, and I don't agree with the ethics of companies who pay their employees on commission for that, and will not support them with my money. Also, I felt uneasy with her there, because I didn't know if she was trying to case out our house for a push-in robbery, or a robbery later on. The apartment upstairs was broken into a few months back while the neighbours were not home, and since then, I get suspicious of anyone we don't know coming in to the building. I even told my roommate afterwards, we should make sure to securely close all the windows when we leave the house.

I'm glad I did a search online for this company, because I'm finding a lot of troubling information regarding them and would never want to do business with them. I'm glad we did not agree to anything.

About a year ago, a young kid also came by in the evening, claiming he was from our electric company, and he needed to see our bill because we may be able to save some money. I do not know what company, if any, he was actually working for. I was suspicious at that time too, and did not open the door all the way.

It seems my neighbourhood is considered easy prey for some companies who will lie and deceive to scam us.

Anonymous said...

Seriously the whole thing behind him asking ur bill, is to determine what rate that his company is trying to give u. How they do it is a formula their company give them to develope a diagnosis of wat rate they can give u. By taking the kwh dividing by some other number on ur bill. Now when they get that number, there is a chart the company has, they take the resulting number from the formula and see where u fall on their chart and give u a rate. Now u as the costumer say if u like what u hear or not. Now u might ask why couldnt i tell him right then and there? It could be three things : he didnt have his chart with him, he didnt know how to do the formula or it would be easier for him to look at it and take the numbers he need then to have the individual read numbers that are the inncorrect ones of what he needs. The whole thing for him was to get commission. But lying by saying Nicor or watever sent him was a sneaky way to get ur attention, or assume he was important based on what he said. Im a Just Energy representive, and that guy handle it all wrong.

Anonymous said...

my roommate let in a lady and told me i needed to get our gas bills bc she was from the gas company. i don't think she told him this but he assumed it and i brought down our bills without even thinking. of course she went thru the whole shabang talking about how we qualified and could get locked in etc. the rate she offered was $.93 for 5 years. well she already had my bill and ever so ignorantly i signed up. have just logged on to my nicor account and checked the gas usage history for the house i'm renting. if i had been signed up for the past 3 years i would have saved money for 9 months by .$21 a the most and i would have overpaid by more than $.60 the other 27 months. i thought maybe i was reading my bill wrong, why would she sign me up for that!?!?! so glad i came online and did a little research bc i will cancel first thing tomorrow morning. what i'm more upset about, however, is that the woman was so personable and even chatted with me for almost an hour about checking out renter's rights online bc of our bogus landlords. i talked about how they were trying to scam us and we both (well i was anwyways) were so baffled as to why people try to do such things.... didn't realize i was talking about her!! GUUUUUH!!!

Anonymous said...

People... we need to swap out our gas appliances for electric. Electric furnaces and water heaters are cheaper than gas anyway. I plan to do this soon.

Anonymous said...

This scam of a company is calling people in Florida now....I told the young woman on the phone that I would have to check out her company first on "Google" before I ever allowed their representative to come to my house....Well thank God for "Google," because there company: "US Energy" had a complaint list a mile long....My advice: always check out companies first on "Google" before making appointments with their salespeople
on the phone...."Scambusters.com" is a good place to check out any company, as is: "The Better Business Bureau."

Anonymous said...

Former USESC agent here. I did this for a year and a half.

I have no bone to pick with you and I have no love lost for the company either. But to be fair to them, I can be almost certain that the man wasn't wearing a Nicor cap. That would have been blatantly illegal, and pretty stupid. Lots of customers accused us of "claiming to be from Nicor" even after we identified ourselves as U.S. Energy several times and even after they signed an agreement saying "U.S. Energy Savings Corp." You can chalk that up to people being poorly informed about deregulation and energy choice. They hear the words "gas supplier" and they automatically think "NICOR." Then later, they accuse us of impersonating Nicor. Unless you got a visit from one of the stupidest 1 percentile of the sales force, I can assure you that that just doesn't happen.

The gas bill is useful so we can know whether you're already signed on with an alternative supplier. Also so, when you indicate interest, we already have your info right there and we can waste no time in filling out the paperwork. We didn't like to waste time. And yes, the law says that choosing an alternative supplier is 100% up to the customer and that utilities cannot share information with suppliers. So you have to consent to share that with us.

If properly done, it's not fraud, it's just a sale.

There was a mixed bag of things going on with US Energy. They got a bad rap for some things (as I said, nobody goes around saying "I'm from Nicor" -- if they get found out, they're out on their ass in a second). But the company did encourage too much shading/hiding of the truth (about rates in particular) and they tended not to clean things up until the state was all over them forcing them to do it.

RockStories said...

Anonymous, I can assure YOU that the representative at my door was wearing a NICOR cap and carrying a clipboard with the NICOR logo on it. As a former consumer attorney and former journalist, I took very careful note of the details and asked the same sort of specific questions that I would have in a deposition or in preparation for a new story--and I took notes immediately following the discussion.

He didn't say that he was from NICOR, but that he was from U.S. Energy and "NICOR sent us out". I did not hear the words "as supplier"--I heard "NICOR". I asked specifically, "If NICOR sent you, why do you need to see my bill? They have that information." His (inane) response was that it was because I had the paper bill, while NICOR had only electronic records.

What's especially interesting to me is that at least two other U.S. Energy reps (the second one who came to my door, and one who commented earlier in this thread) have indicated that the practices I described were discontinued after an Illinois Commerce Commission crackdown on your company, while you insist that they never occurred at all. This discrepancy really solidifies the idea that your company reps are trained to say whatever suits in the moment without any regard for the truth.

Anonymous said...

I am an insurance agent in the senior market. I also represent another AGS in the Nicor territory and have switched many high-rate USES customers to my company. USES will let seniors out of their five-year contract if pressured to do so.

Just yesterday, two of my customers reported receiving bills directly from USES, even though Nicor does their billing. One of my customers was last with USES in October, 2008,--over a year ago. I'm wondering if this is also a scam, sending bills for gas that was paid for long ago. Have any other former USES customers had this happen to them?

Anonymous said...

does anyone know that NICOR Gas can have leaks in there system and do all the time and do not have to fix them unless they are in the house. They have many leaks going on now and some have to be looked at on a 12 month time table some do not have to be looked at and some if luckey get fixed. Is this right all gas should be in the pipes not leaking out into the air around cars or houses, and they get to deside what needs fixing and what does not get fixed. look what just happen in Elgin the house blow up from a leak in a high pressure main. usualy these are steel pipes how can they leak unless bad instal as the joint are welded. and NICOR get more money from us to fix there bad workmenship.

Anonymous said...

Just Energy knocked on my door the other night. The man mumbled his introduction, flashed a badge and said "I need to see your gas bill". Now I am a college student, just now living on my own for the first time so I am a little naive, so yes I thought he was from our gas company (Columbia gas). I asked him why and he said it was to protect us from rises in gas prices and make sure we weren't being overcharged. At first I thought "Wow, that's nice, our gas company wants to save us money and make sure we aren't being scammed". But at the same time I was very hesitant to give him my bill. So what I did was I tore off the top part of the bill which had my account number and ONLY my account number on it. When I handed it to him he said he needed the information on the top part I tore off (aka MY ACCOUNT NUMBER). I told him I didn't have it and that was the only bill I had. He said the top part would tell him what we were being charged, but I double checked, it ONLY HAD MY ACCOUNT NUMBER on it. I asked him if I could have a number I could call at a later time and he wrote it down for me. So when I look at the number I see it says 1-800-columbia (as in columbia gas right?) but the website he directs me to is justenergy.com. So last night I simply googled Just Energy, and what do you know, HORRIBLE reviews on their scamming ways. I wouldn't trust this company as far as I could throw them. I think they prey on people they believe will be easily mislead, I live in an area that is 95% young college kids living on their own for the first time, not exactly knowledgeable when it comes to stuff like this. This company is about as deceptive as they come.

abraham said...

i got a call from just energy, they were talking about hiring me and paying me 85k my first year and over 150k the second, just by going door to door asking for a gas bill and telling people that gas prices are gonna go up and if they dont sign up they are basically fucked! and i believed the guy when he was explaining to us how it worked. but then i started thinking man this is bullshit!....u r telling me u gonna pay us 8000 a month to scam people? they charge up to 60 cents extra per therm and 19.95 EXTRA a month. they dont really want us to go into details with the customers. you know i was like fuck this pussy ass thieves i aint gonna be going door to door asking for their personal info. i was like they are gonna tell me to fuck off, so naw im straight!!. plus i hate sales so FUCK JUST ENERGY!! ITS A SCAM!! DONT WORK THERE! DONT SIGN SHIT! THEY GONNA ROB YOU AND BASICALLY FUCK UR WIFE AND KIDS WHILE THEY AT IT.

Anonymous said...

My friend and I were recently discussing about how modern society has evolved to become so integrated with technology. Reading this post makes me think back to that debate we had, and just how inseparable from electronics we have all become.


I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside... I just hope that as technology further advances, the possibility of downloading our brains onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's one of the things I really wish I could experience in my lifetime.


(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=http://kwstar88.livejournal.com/491.html]R4[/url] DS FFV2)

Anonymous said...

http://libertarianrepublican.blogspot.com/2009/02/australia-arson-suspect-arrested-muslim.html

Anonymous said...

[url=http://www.facebook.com/pages/weathercom/298713874092l]www.weather.com[/url]

Anonymous said...

My mother Just got home from the hospital and said yes to US Energy because she still didn't feel good and wanted to get rid of the guy. She never told anyone she signed up for it. When it got colder to where the bill would make a difference, I saw it. That's when my mom told me she signed up with it. (She didn't even understand what they were doing) By then it was too late to cancel. When I tried to cancel it, they told me she was in a 10 year contract. Well, that 10 years is over. When I called to cancel prior to renewal they told me the conversation was being recorded. I told them good. They tried to get me to sign up again and told me they can lock me in at .81 per therm. I told them they the company is a rip off, and how can they take advantage of a senior citizen the way they did(she's in her 80s) and I'm glad it was all being recorded. I also asked the rep how she could work for a rip off company like she does. She just ignored everything I said and proceeded to offer a lock in rate of .81 per therm. I said no 0 just cancel the contract. I also faxed and mailed my request to cancel.
Guess what? The first NICOR bill (which was Feb 10, 2010) was .61 per therm.

Anonymous said...

Just Energy currently has a wholesale price flexible plan plus 1 penny which comes with the option as a non-green plan. Green plans are always more expensive. This is a great plan and is not a scam as you state. Unfortunately not all independent agents explain the program properly to their customers. All agents must wear id badges when out in the field as fully identifying themselves as Just Energy Agents. All contracts signed in the field are verified from the customers phone and getting their agreement to the contract over the phone with the agent present. There is also a 10 day cooling off period, which gives the customer time to review the contract before reaffirming registration. The customer also has 30 days to cancel their contract with Just Energy after they receive their first bill if they are not satisfied. And on the non-green plans, there is only an exit fee of $100, not what has been stated in previous blogs. There is a higher exit fee for green plans, which is fully explained in the contract. It's apparent from this blog comments that people don't read their contracts and don't read them within the time frame of cancellation.

viagra online said...

I think NICOR must to be more neutral and to focus in the business.so We need an efficient distribution of the oil.

Anonymous said...

Two women from Just Energy came around today. Everything about them is very official-looking, very misleading. At first I thought they were National Grid, but after a while I noticed the reps were talking a little TOO fast, but not really EXPLAINING anything. Just telling me that I can save tons of money by signing up. Next thing I know, a contract has been written up (I gave her my bill to see if I "qualified") and she is pushing a pen in my hand asking me to sign. LMAO! I told her my husband isn't home and we don't make household-related decisions without discussion. I asked for a number to call, and she waffled, trying to act like it was a one-time, take it or leave it deal. She then wrote down her number, and all but lost interest and ran out. She knew if we researched their company it would be a snowy day in hell before I signed up for anything. I still have the contract along with their shiny pamphlet sitting on my desk. Scam artists indeed...

Anonymous said...

X US Energy Savings/JUST ENERGY Employee... I must agree with most of these posts by ripped off customers. USES always announces a discreet but exciting job in the newspaper targeted for the young naive, college students, or struggling. I myself was hired by this company and put through a fast training before hitting my door to door victims. (I say victims because at the time I did not realize what the real underlying motive for my superiors and their lofty positions was towards these innocent people.) I have to admit that since getting my first customer to sign up, I myself started suspecting that something was wrong with offering this scam, correction, wonderful service. Not to many people caught on to the fact that they were NOT better off with this lenghty 5 year program since the therm was usually lower than the locked in $1.15/therm we were offering. I quit shortly feeling deceived and after analyzing the true motive for this scam company. I thought, "i wouldnt even offer this to my family" as was recommended by the higher management superiors as soon as training was over. This company gets its young or struggling employees pumped up by constantly flashing large thousand dollar weekly checks daily in the office before being dispatched to an area.

Point is, I truly feel wronged as an x-employee of US energy as much as the customer who fell for this notorious scam. I felt redeemed after I was able to get a few of my friends, neighbors, and family members to cancel or pursue litigation on this company if it didnt break their contract. If your an employee for this company, do the right thing. Don't just get motivated by the short term fast cash they flash in your face. These are OUR friends, neighbors, and family! This company is now called Just Energy and wear these so called convincing green jackets to appear as if they are really helping to be earth friendly. For the employee, YOU KNOW YOU ARE REALLY DOING WRONG! Especially when you target areas where unsuspecting victims reside, the poorer areas. These victims are desperate for anything to save money and feed their families but instead, they quickly fall for this crap.

Do the right thing, DONT BUY INTO JUST ENERGY formerly known as US ENERGY SAVINGS.

carry on luggage size restrictions said...

Hope to be blessed with much more knowledge about this. It's a very good article. Keep writing.

Anonymous said...

buy xanax xanax bars images - xanax 2 mg apteka

Anonymous said...

… Unbelievable , but I just found software which can do all hard work promoting your whatswrongaroundus.blogspot.com website on complete autopilot - building backlinks and getting your website on top of Google and other search engines 1st pages, so your site finally can get laser targeted qualified traffic, and so you can get lot more visitors for your website.

YEP, that’s right, there’s this little known website which shows you how to get to the top 10 of Google and other search engines guaranteed.

I used it and in just 7 days… got floods of traffic to my site...

…Well check out the incredible results for yourself -
http://magic-traffic-software.com

I’m not trying to be rude here, but I believe when you find something that finally works you should share it…

…so that’s what I’m doing today, sharing it with you:

http://magic-traffic-software.com

Take care - your friend Jennifer

Anonymous said...

After getting more than 10000 visitors/day to my website I thought your whatswrongaroundus.blogspot.com website also need unstoppable flow of traffic...

Use this BRAND NEW software and get all the traffic for your website you will ever need ...

= = > > http://get-massive-autopilot-traffic.com

In testing phase it generated 867,981 visitors and $540,340.

Then another $86,299.13 in 90 days to be exact. That's $958.88 a
day!!

And all it took was 10 minutes to set up and run.

But how does it work??

You just configure the system, click the mouse button a few
times, activate the software, copy and paste a few links and
you're done!!

Click the link BELOW as you're about to witness a software that
could be a MAJOR turning point to your success.

= = > > http://get-massive-autopilot-traffic.com

Anonymous said...

I think the admin of this site is actually working hard in favor of his web site, as here every stuff is quality based data.


Here is my blog ... coffee flavors

Anonymous said...

I'm more than happy to uncover this site. I wanted to thank you for ones time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely liked every part of it and i also have you book-marked to see new things in your web site.

Look into my web-site - http://groupbuyingindia.com/property-deals/tall-womens-clothing-fill-your-wardrobe-with-trendy-clothing/

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...