Alternative Electric Supplier’s Sales Calls Apparently Didn’t Clarify They Weren’t ComEd Calls

The ABC 7 I-Team reports they recently investigated calls from Realgy Energy services — a legitimate alternative electric provider available to electric customers. In northern Illinois, consumers have a choice to use ComEd or switch to an alternative supplier when looking for lower rates. ABC 7 I-Team reports that they discovered that suppliers can legally pitch a customer to switch their service, but that unidentified voicemails were discovered (later identified from Realgy) that do not follow the approved Realgy script for sales associates.

ABC 7 I-Team became aware of the case when a customer, Ron Haluczak, notified the ABC 7 I-Team that he got a string of what he called “alarming messages” from ComEd. He was concerned something was wrong with his electric bill. The ABC 7 I-Team I-Team discovered the telephone voice mails actually originated from Realgy, not ComEd.

“Hi, my name is Melinda calling in regards to your ComEd electric account it is important that you reach me as soon as possible. Please make sure to have a copy of your ComEd bill when you call back.”

— Realgy voicemail (not identified as Realgy)

Haluczak knew something was wrong because his electric provider is not ComEd, it’s the city of St. Charles.

“I’m calling in regards to the ComEd electric account. It is very important you return my call,” another voicemail said.

“They try to get you to call them under false pretenses and that’s just wrong all day long,” Haluczak said.

The ABC 7 I-Team called the number connected to the voice mails, and discovered the caller was from Realgy Energy, not ComEd as the voicemail claimed.

Following the ABC 7 I-Team inquiry, Realgy sent a statement about the voicemails, saying sales representatives “must identify Realgy and that (the sales representatives) are calling about the ComEd customer choice program.”

A spokesman from ComEd, Fidel Marquez, Jr. said the messages are in no way affiliated with, or sponsored by ComEd. But when the I-Team got a callback a Realgy representative said it was “ComEd sponsored.”

“It certainly seems a very aggressive approach that we now know is a marketing call and they fail to identify who is calling or the purpose of the call.”

— Fidel Marquez, Jr., senior vice president of ComEd

Realgy said ComEd bills are legally required to verify a customer’s account and potential savings. Realgy also said it has safeguards in the enrollment process and “feel it is nearly impossible to enroll a customer without their knowledge.”

“I think they need to be very transparent, very clear in their calls of what is the purpose for their call and not trying to get them scared,” ComEd’s Marquez said.

The Illinois Commerce Commission and the attorney general’s office told the ABC I-Team that they’re also looking into the voicemails.

ComEd reminded customers they should never provide a social security number, or a ComEd account number to anyone claiming to be from ComEd.

ComEd says a switch to an alternative supplier should follow research about the company, asking the alternate supplier if they have variable rates which could go up and down with the market.

ComEd and ABC 7 I-Team advises customers to visit the Illinois Attorney General’s website regarding alternative energy supply.

Currently on the Attorney General’s website, there is a small button labeled “Public Utilities” that links to the following categorized information …

Gas and Electric

Tips for Purchasing Renewable Energy
Get Smart About Smart Meters
Home Heating Gas and Electric Brochure
Choosing a Natural Gas or Electricity Supplier
Saving Through Net Metering
LIHEAP Alert (en Español)

Telephone Service
Understanding Your Telephone Service

Cable and Television
Television Service: Understanding Your Rights

“Choosing a Natural Gas or Electricity Supplier” links to a PDF brochure entitled “Choosing a Natural Gas or Electricity Supplier [PDF].”

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