Yesterday evening, a young man rang my doorbell claiming to offer a better, environmentally-friendly energy deal than my current electric company. He said that he represented Just Energy, and promptly asked me for a copy of my electric bill so I could sign up for this better deal.
This young man had the bad luck of ringing my doorbell. First, this blog is all about informing and empowering consumers. So, I am always alert for identity theft, fraud, scams, and deceptive offers. Alarms go off whenever a sales representative immediately asks for personally identifying information before I have a chance to review their offer in detail.
I thanked him for sharing his energy offer and told him that, besides not knowing him, I don't disclose the personal information he asked for. He showed me a badge which he said validated that he was from Just Energy. I told him that his badge didn't do a thing for me, and asked him to leave a business card or brochure with a phone number I could call to verify him and his company.
He left a brochure which pitches wind energy, and that Just Energy's "JustGreen Rate Flex program provides consumers with electricity from a clean, renewal energy source. The brochure doesn't mention directly but seems to capitalize on the Cape Wind project, which when built will be the nation's first offshore wind farm. The wind farm, approved in April by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior after 9 years of environmental studies and political wrangling, will be built in Massachusetts off the coast of Cape Cod.
After the young man left my front porch, I called 9-1-1 to have the local police verify his credentials. Then, I went back to work. Later during the evening, I had some time and decided to research Just Energy. A quick Google search produced a link to the Chicago Better Business Bureau, which rated Just Energy an "F" (on a scale of A+ to F). Why? 536 complaints, 42 unresolved complaints, and 28 complaints unanswered by the company.
An article in the Consumerist blog described some consumers' experiences with the company in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City. Similar problems there. I called the phone number (866-587-8674) on the company's brochure and a recording said its offices were closed and to call back during business hours.
Is Just Energy's deal a good one? You'll have to decide that for yourself. Me? I'll pass on the company's offer.
Has anybody else encountered this company? Did you sign up for one of their energy plans? If so, what was your experience?
[Editor's Note: in January 2015, Just Energy agreed to a settlement agreement with the Attorney General's Office for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.]