Door-to-door sellers get Cheektowagans riled up


CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Town of Cheektowaga officials yanked the welcome mat for a private company that markets energy services directly to consumers, called an ESCO, following residents’ complaints that door-to-door representatives were getting “too aggressive” with their sales pitches.

The company, New York Gas and Electric, Inc., markets gas and electric services. It is a subsidiary of Florida-based U.S. Gas and Electric, Inc., which operates in 11 states across the Northeast and Midwest.

Cheektowaga requires any person doing door-to-door business to get a “Solicitors, Hawking and Peddling License”, and shortly after the company obtained its solicitors licenses on Thursday, the complaints started pouring in.

The sales people seemed to start in Cheektowaga Town Supervisor Denise Benczkowski’s end of town first.

“They knocked very agrressively, they rang the bell, and then they banged on the door,” said Benczkowski, who found out first-hand what the fuss was all about on Friday.

Two representatives showed up at her front door, a sales person and a trainee. Benczkowski said the pair seemed to deliberately blur the line between her electric utility, NYSEG, and their private ESCO. aggressive door-to-door sales people.. they came to her home.

“It is very deceiving because when they say ‘New York Gas and Electric’, you think they are saying New York State Electric and Gas,” recalled the supervisor, “NYSEG is what people think right away, and it’s not NYSEG.”

Town officials pointed out residents also seemed to be confused because the solicitor permits issued by the town look as if the sales people were acting on behalf of the town.

Cheektowaga Assistant Chief of Police James Speyer said many of the complaints came to the dispatcher’s office.

“They would go up to households and tell them that they need to see their electric bills, and pretty much were pushy, overbearing–intimidating in some instances–and the residents in town were upset over it all.”

Based on the complaints, Cheektowaga officials revoked all 7 permits for New York Gas And Electric, only 4 days after they were issued. Total cost for all 7 permits, $819.

A supervisor for New York Gas and Electric declines an on-camera interview, but denied that the sales reps were being abusive or trying to be deceptive.

A spokesman for the New York State Public Utilities Commission, which approves ESCO’s before they can do business in the state, said they are aware of the complaints and are investigating.

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