I received two mailings the week of 2/9/2009, both in the same attractive envelope from IGS Energy, postmarked from Lancaster, Ohio. The offer was this: lock in low fixed rate of $8.99 per MCF for your natural gas supplier, Dominion East Ohio. The current variable rate is $11.70, and like gasoline – it goes up and down depending on the market. I didn’t think it was a scam since IGS actually worked with Dominion (as a direct supplier), and no service was ever stopped or changed. The customer is simply requested to submit their Dominion account number, IGS would then contact Dominion and the price of natural gas would drop from Dominions $11.7 per MCF to $8.99, quite potentially saving the customer around $15-20 a month.
I called to ask a few questions, and immediately was greeted by a chipper young lady asking for my account number. She explained that if I enrolled today, within 2 billing cycles my gas bill would be $8.99 per MCF through 2010.
“Well what happens if Dominion’s rate dips below $8.99, would I still have to pay the fixed rate of $8.99, or would Dominion’s rate kick back to the lower price?”
“At that point, you would have to call IGS back and cancel for a low fee of $100.”
Here’s where it gets tricky. Remember how there were two mailings? The first mailing made this offer through December 2009. The second mailing, in the same envelope and printed on the same paper made the same fixed rate offer through December 2010. That catch: only the first mailing contained this paragraph:
“There is absolutely no risk with IGS Energy since there are no sign up fees, no cancellation fees, and no long term commitment.”
I immediately ask the IGS person on the phone as to why I would have pay $100 to cancel a service that clearly states this should never happen. After reading the above quote to her, she acted as if this was news to her and no mailing should make that claim. She paused before rewinding and saying:
“Oh you must have the offer through 2009. I signed you up for the 2010 offer, let me just make that change real quick…”
How many people out there received these exact two mailings days apart and signed up for an offer that was clearly stated as having no commitment? A locked in low rate of $8.99 per month through 2010? Surely the natural gas market will dip below that rate within the next 2 years, and each customer would then have to pay $100 to break out from IGS / Dominion.
Who’s to say that the rate for natural gas will decrease? Plain Dealer reporter, John Funk. In his January 28th, 2009 article he writes:
“Consumers who buy directly from Dominion East Ohio gas company will see gas prices tumble by 20 percent in mid February to $6.81 per 1,000 cubic feet.”
“The steep price decline comes at a cost of millions of jobs. Gas consumption has fallen by about 10 percent as factories have reduced the number of shifts per day, steel mills shut down blast furnaces and retailers closed their doors for good.”
WHAT A SCAM! Here we have an article dated January 2009 stating that Dominion’s rate will drop tremendously in the coming weeks, and we have IGS trying to capitalize on this and blindly rip off thousands of Northeast Ohio gas customers! They are trying to lock in their rate and overcharge or use multiple mailings to trick people into paying a $100 cancellation fee.