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Citing Customer Complaints, New York PSC Orders ESCO To Show Why It Should Continue To Be Allowed To Operate In NY

October 20, 2017

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Copyright 2010-17 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • ring@energychoicematters.com

The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) said in an October 19 news release that, "the energy service company MPower Energy could be barred from operating in New York following more than 100 complaints about deceptive sales and marketing practices by the Brooklyn-based ESCO."

The PSC said in such news release that, "Following an investigation into complaints dating back to 2015, the Commission said MPower must offer proof within 30 days on why it should be allowed to continue operating in New York. Within seven days, the firm must also show why it should be allowed to serve low-income customers, who are frequently the victims of aggressive and misleading sales practices by ESCOs."

A copy of the PSC's order directing such action was not immediately available

Lavie Popack, the CEO of MPower Energy LLC, provided the following statement to EnergyChoiceMatters.com:

"MPower looks forward to reviewing the New York State Public Service Commission’s order and working with department staff to resolve any alleged compliance issues. We have conducted an internal investigation as well. We have found that many consumers who alleged that they were enrolled without authorization were recorded authorizing enrollment with MPower. In another instance, mentioned in the PSC's press release, a consumer filed a series of complaints about solicitations made by NYSERDA's EmPower New York program. Unfortunately, some of those complaints were erroneously directed to MPower.

"We have also reviewed our policies and provided additional training for our sales agents to ensure that consumers have been provided accurate pricing and clear information on the products and services they have purchased. MPower's commitment is to its customers, and it will not tolerate any salesperson representing MPower against the requirements and spirit of the UBP or our company values. MPower takes consumer complaints extremely seriously and is committed to investigate each complaint thoroughly and, if necessary, take swift action to compensate the consumer and avoid any recurrence." -- Lavie Popack, CEO of MPower Energy LLC

The PSC said in its October 19 news release that, "Allegations against MPower Energy include customer complaints that MPower enrolled some customers without their permission, an illegal practice known as 'slamming.' One customer alleged that MPower salesman 'rang my bell and banged on my door multiple times (before) they yelled, 'Building Verification!'' When the resident asked for identification, the sales agent yelled 'Building Verification!' again and threatened to assault the resident when she voiced her displeasure."

The PSC said in such news release that, "MPower has served approximately 90,000 residential and small commercial customers in New York City."

The PSC said in such news release that, "In another complaint, a customer of Green Mountain Energy was allegedly told that Green Mountain no longer served that area and they should switch service to MPower. Typical of many ESCO complaints across the state, an MPower sales agent allegedly claimed to be a representative of the local utility and not an ESCO salesman, according to complaints against MPower."

"These complaints demonstrate that MPower sales agents may be using many deceptive and misleading marketing tactics when marketing to customers, including misrepresentation of identity, and promising savings that are not guaranteed," the Commission stated in its order, according to the PSC's press release.

The PSC said in such news release that, "The Department staff issued a Notice of Apparent Failure on June 6, 2016 following consumer complaints against MPower and a second notice on March 21, 2017 after more complaints were filed. Another 43 complaints have been filed since then alleging slamming and other forms of misleading or deceptive sales practices. These include claims that MPower sales agents misrepresented their identity, enrolled customer accounts without proper authority to do so and did not provide contracts in the customer’s native language."

The PSC said in such news release that, "MPower has served approximately 90,000 residential and small commercial customers in New York City."

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