Supplier Alleges "Cookie-Cutter" Complaint Filed By Retail Provider Amounts To An, "Attempt To Eliminate Its Competition"
February 22, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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IGS Energy provided the following statement to EnergyChoiceMatters.com: "IGS is seeking to protect its brand and reputation as well as the reputation of the retail energy market. Beyond that, the facts in the complaint speak for themselves."
In a motion to dismiss filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, Santanna Natural Gas Corporation d/b/a Santanna Energy Services alleged that a complaint filed against Santanna by IGS Energy, "is nothing more than an attempt to eliminate its competition in the competitive market."
As first exclusively reported by EnergyChoiceMatters.com, IGS filed a complaint alleging that Santanna sales representatives made representations to customers with the alleged intent to mislead IGS’ customers into believing that the Santanna representatives are affiliated with IGS. IGS further alleged, "Starting on or about January 9, 2018, Respondent’s sales representatives began contacting both IGS’customers [sic], and other individuals, via telephone using the numbers 1-800-429- 5708 at ext. 234 and 708-283-0947; and represented to those customers that the caller is an Account Manager employed by 'IDS Energy.'"
Santanna noted that the allegations alleged in the IGS complaint against Santanna were largely similar to those contained in an IGS complaint filed against Titan Gas. As previously reported, IGS and Titan settled the complaint, and, among the terms of the settlement, Titan agreed to continue its voluntary suspension of residential sales channels in Ohio for a total period of twenty-four (24) months (the suspension began before IGS filed the complaint)
Santanna alleged in its motion to dismiss that, "In an attempt to eliminate another competitor from the Ohio market, IGS filed a
cookie-cutter complaint that is strikingly similar to a previous complaint that IGS filed
against another competitor, alleging identical claims of misconduct."
Santanna alleged in its motion to dismiss that, "In the identical complaint filed in 2017, IGS was able to extract a settlement from the
supplier that in essence prevents the supplier from operating in the state of Ohio for a period
of two years."
Santanna alleged in its motion to dismiss that, "Two months after being able to extract such an unusual
public settlement and successfully eliminate a competitor in the residential market, IGS
decided to attempt to eliminate another competitor by alleging identical claims of
misconduct that purportedly occurred over 13 months ago. Unlike the prior complaint
where IGS filed its grievance within four months, IGS did not file its Complaint (or even
contact Santanna to inform them of the alleged misconduct) until 13 months after the
alleged incident occurred."
Santanna alleged in its motion to dismiss that, "The generic Complaint filed by IGS does not set forth specific
facts with regard to the alleged incident by Santanna and does not even state whether the
allegations or purported unlawful practices concern competitive electric or natural gas
Santanna alleged in its motion to dismiss that, "IGS failed to support its Complaint with factual allegations that sustain its claims
as required by Ohio Adm. Code 4901-9-01(B). IGS frames its factual allegations contained
in the 'Background' section of its Complaint to create some sense of impropriety, hut it
does not allege crucial facts that would be necessary to support its five claims or its claims
for relief and does not provide evidence connecting Santanna to the alleged improper
practices that form the central basis for the entire Complaint. Absent these factual
allegations against Santanna, IGS failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted."
Santanna alleged in its motion to dismiss that, "IGS begins its description of the scheme allegedly being perpetrated by Santanna
by stating that Santanna representatives have been calling IGS customers and others from
two specific telephone numbers and representing themselves as agents of 'IDS Energy.'
Despite plainly alleging that the callers from those numbers identified themselves as being
from 'IDS Energy,' IGS avers, without a shred of evidence that the individuals using the
telephone numbers listed in the eighth paragraph of the Complaint were actually
representatives of Santanna when, in fact, Santanna does not have any authorized
representatives using the numbers listed in the Complaint. Further, IGS does not allege
that Santanna's name is mentioned on these calls."
Santanna alleged in its motion to dismiss that, "IGS's claim appears to rest on
the single allegation that Santanna representatives claimed to be calling customers on
behalf of 'IDS Energy.' But IGS does not make factual allegations sufficient to create a
nexus between Santanna and the individuals allegedly claiming to be account managers for
Santanna alleged in its motion to dismiss that, "IGS does not allege that Santanna directed any employees, agents, or contractors to
claim to work on behalf of IDS Energy. IGS does not allege that any of Santanna's
marketing scripts or training materials instructed its employees or contractors to state that
they work on behalf of IDS Energy. IGS also does not allege that any IGS customers were
offered a Santanna product or service under the guise that the product or service was
actually an IGS product. Put another way, IGS does not allege that when a customer
ultimately chooses to accept an offer for Santanna's products or services, he or she is under the belief that they are actually accepting an offer from IGS."
Santanna alleged in its motion to dismiss that, "IGS has not alleged facts that connect Santanna to the representatives
purportedly making these calls on behalf of 'IDS Energy.' The only purported evidence
that IGS provides are the phone numbers that were allegedly used to make these calls.
Importantly, however, IGS does not allege facts connecting Santanna to those phone
numbers. Moreover, Santanna does not have authorized representatives or contractors
who use these telephone numbers to solicit on behalf of Santanna. Because IGS has not
alleged facts to support a claim that Santanna or its purported agents actually referenced a
non-existent entity called 'IDS Energy,' that Santanna or its purported agents made any
connection between IDS Energy and Santanna, or that Santanna or its purported agents
misled or deceived customers, IGS has failed to plead allegations that would support a
claim that Santanna has violated either Ohio Adm. Code 4901: l-29-05(D)(5) or
4901: 1-21-05(C)(10). As such, IGS's Fourth Claim should be dismissed."
Santanna alleged in its motion to dismiss that IGS is improperly attempting to hold Santanna responsible for the purported actions of a, "rogue contractor."
Santanna alleged in its motion to dismiss that, "Santanna acknowledges that it may use third-party vendors for purposes of
providing sales and marketing services to Santanna in Ohio and elsewhere. Such vendors
are retained as independent contractors in order to assist Santanna in the marketing and
sales of Santanna's business products on behalf of Santanna, not to sell the products of a
fictitious company. When Santanna has retained vendors to assist it, it has clearly laid out
the scope of the relationship through agreements retaining those third-party vendors and
has required its contractors to perform the services in strict accordance with currently approved methods and practices related to promoting Santanna's business products.
Santanna also requires its vendors to use Santanna's sales and marketing scripts without
alteration or deviation. Santanna has never directed a third party vendor to represent that
he or she was speaking on behalf of 'IDS Energy' or any other entity nor would such
method and practice be an approved method and practice. Further, Santanna requires all
contractors to perform services in an ethical, satisfactory, competent, efficient, and
professional manner with the highest standards of honesty and integrity and not to engage
in any conduct that may cause harm to Company. A contractor representing him or herself
as an employee of a fictitious company would be in strict violation of the terms of the
agreements Santanna has with its vendors. As such, any contractor making such a
representation would be acting as a rogue contractor and not as a representative of
In an answer, Santanna stated, "Santanna asserts as an affirmative defense that it has never conducted business, or
authorized another party to conduct business on its behalf, using the name IGS Energy or any
other name that is not Santanna."
In an answer, Santanna stated, "Santanna asserts as an affirmative defense that it has not solicited customers, or
authorized another party to solicit customers on its behalf, using misleading, deceptive, or
unconscionable sales and marketing practices that violate Ohio law.."
Santanna said in its motion to dismiss that "The Supreme Court of Ohio has long held that an employer or principal, in general,
is not liable for the negligence of an independent contractor."
"Moreover, the Supreme Court of Ohio has held that even if someone acts an agent
for an entity in some instances, it is not the case that the individual is acting as an agent in
all cases. Specifically, self-serving acts of agents that do not promote the interests of the
employer do not fall within the scope of agency," Santanna said
Santanna in its motion to dismiss said, "IGS should be barred from making cookie-cutter, baseless
complaints, without any facts or evidence to substantiate its claims, against its competitors
in an attempt to harm the reputations of its competitors, to thwart competitors' sales efforts
in the market, and/or to eliminate the competitors from the market. IGS's frivolous actions
in asserting this Complaint against Santanna are sanctionable. Accordingly, the
Commission should bar IGS from filing frivolous complaints and should issue sanctions
against IGS for filing this baseless Complaint against Santanna."
Santanna in its motion to dismiss said, "Assessing sanctions against IGS would send a message that the Commission will
not allow competitive suppliers to target their competitors in an attempt to harm the
reputations of its competitors, to thwart competitors' sales efforts in the market, and/or to
eliminate the competitors from the Ohio market one-by-one through use of form, cookie-cutter
complaints that do not allege facts specific to the targeted competitor."