Fraudulent Inducement

Wow.  An energy provider (other than the one that provides energy to me currently) came to my door and lied to my face in an effort to get me to change energy companies.  Just now!  Angry?  Extremely.  Here’s how it went down.

He opened with a request for payment of amounts owed to his company.  An outright lie.  I explained that my energy is provided by my company, not his, and that all bills from my company have been paid in full.  Then he asked to see my bill, claiming he could show me where on my bill the amounts owed to his company were detailed.  [After he left I looked at the bill.  All charges, fees and taxes were included in the total I paid.  Obviously nothing indicting a separate payment is due to his company.]  I refused to show him my bill and asked for literature with a number that I could consider at my leisure and call with questions.  He said my company is no longer allowed to provide energy to me directly.  A lie!  He said I needed to fill out paperwork with him today because he is only in the area today.  He never said what the paperwork was for, but I suspected it would bind me to receive energy from these folks, not my current provider.  I said again that I didn’t owe him money, that I wasn’t going to fill out paperwork, that I would call my energy provider to find out what is up, then I shut the door.

After I shut the door, I called my company to confirm all was in good order (it was).   They provided me with a number to the NYS Public Service Commission and I made a complaint with them on the phone.   They suggested I call the NY Attorney General also.  I did.  The only bummer is that the procedure followed by the NYS PSC is to provide my complaint to the company who tried to defrauded me so that they can call me and work out a resolution.  That might make sense if I was disputing the amount of a bill with a company with whom I had contracted to receive services, but it is completely inappropriate in this context and I said so to the agent.  Their procedure is like giving the name of a whistleblower to the wrongdoer and letting them work it out.  What will the company say when they call me (if they call me)?  They are sorry their rep lied to my face in an effort to fraudulently induce me to switch service providers and that they won’t do it again?  Crickey!   Anyway, the NYS PSC rep said that’s their procedure and it can’t be altered.  I was mad enough at the time to let it go, but I might call them back tomorrow and have them pull the complaint.  The AG form had a sentence saying they too would share my information with the wrongdoer.  I crossed it out and wrote underneath it that they are in no way to share my information with the wrongdoer.  We’ll see what happens.  How many people will file complaints under these conditions?  Seriously messed up procedure in this context.

I live in a neighborhood with many retired folks, some of whom might not be able to react appropriately to a fraudulent pitch such as this.  So the next thing I did was to go out on my street to see if any of neighbors were getting the once around.  I found a different rep from the same company on my neighbor’s doorstep.  I explained to the rep and my neighbor simultaneously what had happened to me.  The rep looked concerned and said she had said nothing of the sort to my neighbor and my neighbor agreed.  This rep was making a straight sales pitch for their services.  Good enough.

So why was I selected to be defrauded?  The other rep confirmed that if I filled out my rep’s paperwork, I would have had a new energy provider.  I asked this rep for a copy of the paperwork, but she said I could only have it if I signed up.  Can’t read it in advance, apparently.  This other rep said she’d speak to her manager so that my rep could get retrained.  Maybe she will, but am I to believe my rep had just gone rogue–deciding on his own to defraud me?  I find that hard to believe.

So watch out is all, I guess.  It’s a spooky world out there!


6 responses to “Fraudulent Inducement

  1. The cops are the people you should be sharing this with!! They’ve gotten calls before about people at your door trying to defraud you and will alert the public!! Good on you for reporting it, but sounds like the AG/PSC react like the BBB and insurance supervisor – they can’t/won’t enforce anything.

    • Thanks for the suggestion. Thought about it, but decided against it. I want to get the company to stop, not mess with the rep. The rep seemed like a sad and desperate guy and I got the sense he was just following one of the company’s scripts. Probably doesn’t get a dime unless he signs people up. I didn’t want the take the time of the police, or see this guy getting the once over from them.

      That said, the channels I did try don’t seem to be working very well. Like I said in the post, the NYS PSC gave the company my number. They have called three times now and missed me each time. They leave a number for me to call, which I have called about twelve times but not once has a person picked up. Just a machine. The machine says they’ll call me in 24 hours. Each time it has been more 48 hours or longer. I will probably try a few more times and then call the NYS PSC back and say the company’s dispute resolution process didn’t work.

      Small wonder that the company is comfortable having its sales reps lie. There doesn’t seem to be a way to stop them. I’ll be giving up soon. Just move on!

      Thanks for writing and take care.

  2. Why not say which company’s rep was trying to do this to you?

  3. I think something similar just happened to me. A man just came to my door, and among other things told me that National Grid could no longer be my energy provider. This is false. I have had two alternate gas suppliers in the past 3 years and just recently switched back to National Grid. This man also asked to see my bill. I refused. I asked him to leave and called the police. The dispatcher said she would send someone to check him out. It may well be that these are honest people sent out on a dishonest mission, but one way or another, this needs to stop.

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