Connecticut Procurement Manager Alleged Recipient of Retail Supplier Sales Call Citing False Default Service Rates
October 9, 2013 Email This Story Copyright 2010-13 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
Connecticut's default service procurement manager, Jeff Gaudiosi, alleged that he was the recipient of a sales call from a retail supplier which included information that, "was not accurate," including an allegation that the sales rep cited default service rates as high as 10 cents.
Specifically, Gaudiosi said he was called by a representative alleged to be from Starion Energy. Gaudiosi sent the following email to Starion, which was also filed with PURA:
"Let me begin by introducing myself, I am the Power Procurement Manager for the State of Connecticut based in the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. What that means is that I am responsible for overseeing the local regulated utilities, CL&P and UI, in their purchases of power for the Standard Offer. I am also the author of the Power Procurement Plan for the state that sets the rules under which the utilities purchase the Standard Service power. I received a call at my home earlier today from [redacted by ECM] at Starion energy. His phone number is 203-[redacted]. [redacted] was trying to get me to switch my generation service to Starion Energy for a one month rate of .0699 and variable thereafter. When asked what I could expect for pricing after the first month [redacted] was very elusive. He told me the rate was variable so it can be lowered when possible. As I pressed on about the rate going forward, he referred me to your website and also told me that in the two years he has been with the company the rate has 'never' gone above .0699. He went on to tell me how CL&P can change their rate at any time, which is incorrect, and charge 'around 9 or 10 cents', also incorrect. He even told me about a CL&P customer that paid .18 for Standard Service, which we all know is an impossibility. I then told him who I was and what I do for a living and tried to get some further explanation from him on his offer. After a few questions he hung up the phone on me."
In the email, Gaudiosi continued:
"I went on to your website and saw no mention of the offer he presented. All that was available for my zip code, [redacted], was a 100% green rate at .10. I also went on to www.energizect.com, the site overseen by PURA that requires suppliers to post current offers and prices and did not see anything from Starion resembling the offer [redacted] called with. Part of the goal of PURA is to make sure customers receive accurate information from reputable suppliers. The information I received was not accurate. Potential customers without my background in the industry could be easily confused by calls such as this. I passed this information on to the PURA staff that looks into supplier complaints."
It's not the first time policymakers or other industry officials, savvy enough to identify any poor sales tactics, have received such calls from retail suppliers; Connecticut legislators, in particular, cited similar sales calls from suppliers as a hindrance to a retail auction last session.
In a response to Gaudiosi, Starion said that, "immediately upon receipt, Starion's compliance and legal departments began an investigation of the incident. Starion has since reviewed a recording of the telephone call and identified the areas of concern."
"Starion does not tolerate the use of deceptive sales tactics by its sales vendors or their agents. As such, our telemarketing vendor has been informed that the agent involved is no longer permitted to contact customers in their Starion sales campaign. In response, the vendor has informed Starion that it elected to terminate the agent. Further, in order to ensure quality control, Starion is requiring the vendor to immediately address these concerns and conduct a training review with all personnel regarding Starion's policies and procedures," Starion said.
"In addition, Starion has investigated the marketing history of the sales agent involved and has learned that the agent began marketing on September 23, 2013 and completed a total of twelve (12) telemarketing sales during his time with the telemarketer. Starion has reviewed all of these sales and contacted customers accordingly to ensure each was provided with adequate information and properly enrolled," Starion said.