Which electricity supplier should I choose?
February 23, 2007 9:18 AM   Subscribe

New York City residents: Have you switched from Con Edison to another electricity and/or gas supplier under deregulation? If so, have you seen a significant difference in your bill, and how is the new provider's customer service? I'm trying to decide whether to switch to another provider (Econnergy, Energetix, etc.) for electricity, gas, or both.
posted by zembla3 to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think there was a thread on consumerist.com the other week about a scam-company that was trying to switch people over. you might want to search their website.
posted by krautland at 10:40 AM on February 23, 2007

First off, the consumerist story was about IDT Energy.

The story was that they are passing themselves off as ConEd representatives, despite the illegality of doing so (unless they are actually from ConEd of course).

They came to me last week, with promises of '7% savings off your electricity bill.' Of course, this savings is only for the first 2 months, is only the maximum possible savings (it could be less), and your rates will fluctuate more after the two month period.

As such, you could see your power costs go through the roof if energy gets more expensive, whereas there are caps in place to limit increases (and decreases) if you remain ConEd.

In short, if you gamble that the cost of power is going to fall, you might be better off with an alternative provider, but there is a potential to pay a lot more, and the shady business practices of at least some of the alternative suppliers doesn't put me at ease, personally.
posted by langeNU at 11:30 AM on February 23, 2007

I have never seen an 'IDT' truck. Con Ed trucks, however, are seemingly everywhere. You could infer a couple of things from this, one being that Con Ed's work or systems are always in need of repair, but I conclude that if you had a problem with your power, IDT may not have the resources to respond to fixing your problem like Con Ed does. Ultimately, you need to be considering more than just the price of the service. (IANACE Employee).
posted by Kensational at 3:50 PM on February 23, 2007

This is anecdotal, I admit, but . . . if my experience means anything, IDT = SCUM, SCUM, SCUM.

I made the mistake of using them for lower-priced long distance service several years ago. I just used them for a few calls abroad, becaues they were cheaper. Used the 1010-whatever number, rather than changing my LD carrier.

About a year later, I get a harrassing call from an extremely shady collection agency in Queens, where the guy went a little beyond the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act guidelines (I think I got the name right?). I caught him on that, sent a scathing letter (yeah, snail-mail) to the collection agency and CC'd IDT on it, and didn't hear from them ever again.

Thing is, they had nothing to collect from me. By sheer coincidence, someone who used to have my phone number had made a couple of calls, also using IDT, before I got the number. Some years later, they decide to call ME to collect. You'd think that one of the first things they'd do is check to see if perhaps that phone number hasn't been reassigned to someone else. As a phone company, they can surely get this information QUITE easily.

The letter, especially since I cited how they violated federal law, shut them the fuck up. But they like to play sleazy games, and they're sloppy. It wasn't long after this experience that I started hearing some things in the news about what an utterly corrupt operation IDT is. My suspicion? Wouldn't be surprised if they're mobbed up. They ARE headquartered in Newark, after all . . .

It's not much of a choice, but I'd rather be fucked in the ass by a monolithic corporation that's in bed with the NSA (Verizon, AT&T) than one that will freely come knocking on your door and breaking your kneecaps (IDT). At least the former has a pretense of professionalism. So far.

Not that this answers your question, exactly, except to echo this bit of advice from above: Stay the hell away from IDT.
posted by CommonSense at 6:24 PM on February 23, 2007

Unless I'm missing something major and new, the fact that you never see IDT trucks is because there aren't IDT trucks, or any trucks other than ConEd's. ConEd controls and maintains the infrastructure. If that's true, this question of alternate providers boils down to (as the OP suggested) just differences in pricing, customer service and where the energy originates from in the case of wind power etc.

It's like paying more for Speakeasy DSL because they have radically better customer service & business practices than Verizon... despite the fact that they're using Verizon's pipes, like any other area DSL provider. Similarly, I think you (unfortunately) can't escape being dependent on ConEd and their sometimes terrible service/delays, even if you find a place with its own better customer service.

I will note that the front page of Energetix says "Con Edison customers: Make your PowerMove and save 7% for two months!" Just an observation that may have zero meaning, but I guess it would be useful to make sure they're not IDT -- if you want to avoid IDT.
posted by allterrainbrain at 10:54 PM on February 23, 2007

It will take a lot of effort to make a good decision about this. Even then, you are speculating on energy prices, and that is going to involve some risk. On top of that, the savings for an average user just aren't particularly large - unless you expect to save more than $100/year, what's the point?

If you use a lot more than average, and if you have special knowledge of the market, it might be worth your while to consider switching providers. Otherwise, forget it.

Also, beware of attempts to bundle insurance, repair service, and annual inspections. Insurance is a necessary evil at the best of times, but these types of insurance should be looked at like extended warranties at electronics stores. Yes, sometimes it does make sense, but only very rarely!

This is based on Ontario natural gas suppliers and pricing, but I expect it applies to any commodity based utility - electricity, gas, water (god forbid it should ever come to that for any of us). Data services (telephone, cable, internet, etc.) are completely different, in my estimation. There are useful savings to be had by shopping for data providers.
posted by Chuckles at 5:45 PM on February 24, 2007

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