MOUNT VERNON — Complaints have recently been heard at the News and by Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis about representatives of IGS Energy Services going door-to-door soliciting customers to switch their electrical or gas service carrier.
Problems in question about the solicitations include required permits and actual business ethics. One individual who called the News stated that the IGS representative had asked to see their utility bill and began filling in their personal information on a form to switch services before even asking any further questions.
Another individual explained that the IGS representative was telling their 5-year-old daughter how much money their parents could save by switching. They proceeded to cite figures of how much one could pay compared to what they were paying before even asking what was currently paid.
“They’re not supposed to be doing this without a permit,” said Mayor Mavis. Officers with the Mount Vernon Police Department had informed the IGS representatives of their need for a permit. An IGS manager later visited Mavis’ office and was given a permit form which would allow his company to solicit door-to-door. “We only do about two [permits] a year because it does require the people going door-to-door to get a physical. And it costs $100 to do that.” No form to allow solicitation had been returned to the mayor’s office as of Wednesday afternoon.
Mavis explained that all Mount Vernon City residents are in an opt-out program for electric service and are already with AEP Retail unless they opt out. “He led me to believe that they were only contacting those who had opted out or were with another carrier,” said Mavis. The mayor said to the IGS manager that, “It’s confusing to our people. Our program is a 30-month program starting in January at 9 percent [rebate]. And if you’re out there offering people something that’s 10 percent for six months, people get really confused.”
While Mavis admitted that if a group does acquire a permit, he added that they then are not prevented from soliciting door-to-door. “While I believe the fee for a physical can be a deterrent, we always discourage any strong-arm techniques,” he said.
Mavis also said that there have similar groups in Mount Vernon in the past which he received complaints about, and he had subsequently called the Better Business Bureau about them. “Many of these people are coming into the city without a permit,” said Mavis.
IGS Energy Services in Dublin, Ohio, was contacted recently following the local complaints. “I can contact our compliance company, and they can contact these groups,” said area manager Chris Simon, who explained that the door-to-door solicitors are a third-party company. “We can let them know if they are soliciting these areas without a license that they need to get one.” When asked if IGS has a policy about making sure their solicitors have an appropriate permit, “That’s something they take care of on their end,” said Simon. “But if they’re not doing that, we need to make sure that they are aware they need to.”
Mavis encouraged city residents that if are approached by solicitors and have any questions about their credibility to call the police department.