Washington Gas Energy Services (WGES): shady door-to-door marketing

So a little while ago, I heard about Clean Currents, where BGE customers can switch over to wind power at competitive rates -- indeed, right now they claim a lower rate than BGE.

(Now, this is all accounting BS anyway -- the actual amps that come to your house still pushed there by coal and nuke plants. But some credit goes to wind power providers in other parts of the country, so in theory you're offsetting the dirty power you consume with clean power somewhere else.)

Sounds nifty, and it was on my list of things to check out more fully in my copious free time. I was talking about it this weekend with my friend Carl, who's always up on this stuff, and he mentioned that Clean Currents had partnered with Washington Gas Energy Services as the wholesale electricity supplier. (Which you can verify on their website.)

By coincidence, WGES had salespeople in my neighborhood yesterday. I’m normally a bit reluctant to do business with any company that disturbs me with telemarketers or door-knockers -- but these guys were such grade-A assholes that there’s no way I would do business with the company they were representing.

Here’s a hint, guys: when I say “thank you, no soliciting”, that means you go away immediately. You don’t stick around in desperate attempts to tell me how you’re not selling anything, you’re there to save me money. And then telling me that you need me to sign a waiver showing that I declined the “savings” you were offering? That just shows me that you're shady.

Let me point out that I had to deal with two of these guys in about a quarter-hour, so it wasn't just a single bad apple.

(Though the first guy was merely annoying. The second one, though...I have to admit that the second had me thinking of grabbing up the camp ax -- did I mention I was doing yardwork when these bozos harassed me? -- and doing some crude exploratory surgery to see what was wrong with his brain. But I kept those thoughts to myself.)

I’m not surprised to see that this company rates an “F” from the BBB.

I'll keep my eye open for other clean power options. But for now, I have to recommend staying away from anything involving WGES.

Update Nov 2011: According to Clean Currents' website, "As of July 15, 2011 Clean Currents is NO LONGER AFFILIATED WITH WGES and is now a full-fledged, independent electricity supplier. This means that for anyone who enrolled AFTER July 15, 2011, Clean Currents will serve as your sole electricity supplier."

It's also worth nothing that "Clean Currents was one of the first companies in the state of Maryland to complete the B Corp assessment and adopt the B Corp legal framework into its operating structure and was the first company in the state of Maryland and the United States to file to become a Benefit LLC." (Benefit corporations, or "B Corps", are a new legal structure in Maryland and few other states which are certified to provide a public benefit in addition to a financial return to investors.)

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Comments

misinformed

Although I can understand the no solicitation, just a few minor points:

1) Rated F, by BBB when you aren't part of the BBB systems means nothing. They rate anyone who hasn't paid to be part of the BBB, so you are little off there.

2) These utilities that are doing sales in MD that sell wind energy are held accountable by state regulations. So, although you are put off by door to door people (as we all are) please know that any utility, resale or not, is still accountable.

BBB ratings

The BBB ratings are based on complaints received, not on whether or not the company has paid to join the BBB system. An '"F" is not the same as "not rated." More explanation here.

And being held accountable by the same state regulators that allowed BGE's corporate parents to rake in huge profits while squeezing Marylanders, well, it's not much comfort.

Tom Swiss - proprietor, unreasonable.org

These guys came to my house

These guys came to my house about two months ago. Shady is written all over them. It was almost 9 PM, too. Really, who knocks on doors at that time of night? I didn't sign anything, so who knows? They might come back. I won't be opening the door this time. I, too, would suggest steering clear of whatever "offers" they might make.

Very aggressive salesman

The guy that knocked at my door was quite aggressive. Misrepresented himself as being from Washington Gas. After numerous times telling him I wasn't interested I finally escalated it and told him he was trespassing and I threatened to call the police. He said that the Gas company was allowed on my property and he could turn of my gas(implied threat). He hid his 'badge' after I asked his name. I called Washington Gas. They don't care. I called Washington Gas Energy Services and left a message. Quite a disturbing event at my own house. I agree with Boyitz, steer clear of a company that uses these tactics.

Reply from Clean Currents

I was very concerned about the complaints about WGES which some have posted here, especially since I have already signed on with Clean Currents (my service starts in the next few days)and have recommended that others do so. Complaints not withstanding, I am very excited about being 100% wind powered (I realize, of course, that my house in particular is not being powered by wind, but that I'm instead paying to put wind power into the grid in lieu of coal), and I'm hoping to get other people excited about this option too, for obvious reasons.

Anyway, I was able to get in touch with Clean Currents and told them about the complaints posted here. This is their reply.

"We have had heard bad things about the WGES door-to-door teams as well, nothing quite this bad yet, but similar. I have raised my concerns with WGES and am given a standard response of this is not our policy, and that it must be a bad sales person or a confused customer.

This type of behavior is one of the things that separates us from them, and generally they are not this bad, but they have stepped up their Marketing just as we have due to good prices and good weather. They have outsourced some of the door-to-door work and as a result you get issues like what we are seeing. These for hire sales people tend to be more aggressive and less well trained than internal people.

We have expressed our concerns directly to the person in charge of these teams, who is generally responsive to these types of service complaints.

Please continue to pass this information along to us, and tell any upset customers that they may call me directly if they have questions about their service.

Best,

Brian

Brian Eglsaer

Operations Manager

Clean Currents, LLC
155 Gibbs St., Suite 425

Rockville, MD 20850

BEglsaer@cleancurrents.com

301-754-0430 x706

(cell) 512-217-3493

(fax) 240-744-1719

www.cleancurrents.com

WGES door-to-door Scam

BEWARE:

DISHONEST DOOR-TO-DOOR PRACTICE

This is NOT Washington Gas.

These guys tag teamed me in May 2009. They were dressed like Washington Gas employees. One at the end of the walk making sweet talk to my dog. The other one telling me it was a courtesy (A Washington Gas courtesy-what he FAILED to say was "not the Washington Gas that you THINK I am...but the WGES different company that is scamming you - you stupid homeowner"). The utilities were going to be increased and if I signed, I could be locked in for a low rate for 2 years. I know. I was stupid. I signed - AFTER I had asked 3 times if they were switching me from Washington Gas and Pepco. He swore that no, I would still be with the same companies. What he FAILED to tell me was that I would be with Washington Gas, Pepco AND WGES - the blood-sucking parasite that has more than doubled my bills. I HATE WGES. To cancel them I have to pay $75 twice - once for Gas and once for Electricity and THEN a monthly amount for every month in the 2 year contract that I stupidly signed. A monthly amount to break the gas contract AND a monthly amount to break the Electricity contract.

I hate this company. DO NOT sign on with them.

I HATE WGES!

Hoodwinked by WGES

I signed up for 2 years with WGES for gas @ $124 per month begining in April '09, in Dec of '09 WGES switched me back to Washington Gas after taking my money @ $124 in the summer(when I would only be paying $35 per month) and dumping me in the winter.

WGES

I HATE WGES also, how can this SCAM be allowed to continue. This WGES scam will cost you money not save you money. During winter my electric bill is near 35.00 per month. My bill with WGES was 35.00 + 71.00 to WGES. My summer bill (3-4 mo) is 160-180.00 per month. How does this reduce my expenses by 10% as promised ?

WGES is a blood sucking SCAM !

This scam is still going on in MD where I live. I became a fraud victim through opening my front door. I thought this was the same Wash.Gas that I have used for years. I was promised a 10% per month reduction in my electric bill but my first two bills increased by $75 per month. I canceled this scam , and now these thieves are trying to get $150 from me as a cancellation fee.

I HATE WGES!

I HATE TIMESHARES !

They just showed up at my

They just showed up at my door here in PA! I have never even heard of them, we have People's Gas and Penelec. It was two young girls, who to be honest looked like a couple of streetwalkers, being rather rude and pushy about the whole thing. I got irritated and rude with them and they gave up and left.

EmpowerSales team for WGES

I recently interviewed with the Empowerment Group, part of Empowersales. They told me my job would be to simply go to existing BGE customers and ask them to allow WGES to now be there chosen supplier. Any feedback would be appreciated. How do these scam companies not get exposed?

Experience with WGES and contradictory information

I live in Virginia, and was recently visited by a door-to-door representative of Washington Gas Energy Services, similar to the visits mentioned above. The salesman used a similar pitch, explaining he wasn't selling anything, but instead was offering an opportunity to lower my energy bills, and highlighted the "green" nature of WGES since apparently 5% of the bulk energy they produce is generated by wind power. As he explained, since WGES only has a business relationship with the company I use for gas service (and not the company I use for electricity), the WGES deal would only apply to my gas service. He explained that in comparison to the gas prices I'm currently paying, WGES was offering a fixed-rate price which is currently about half of my current costs. This fixed-rate price would be good for one year, presumably a one-year contract, at which time I would have the option to renew with WGES or discontinue and return my service to my original gas service provider. All I needed to do was provide him with my current gas service account number and he would submit my account through WGES to my current gas provider to have the service switched over. While we spoke, he continued to highlight that 5% of the energy WGES sells comes from wind energy.

After a little confusion, the guy did clarify he represented WGES, and not my current gas provider. It may have just been confusion on my part, or it may have been his strange initial explanation, but eventually we got that ironed out.

As he explained WGES's deal, I was first concerned that WGES's price was half of my current costs. Seemed too good to be true. His response was that since WGES sold bulk energy and was leveraging wind energy for some of it, WGES's costs were subsidized by the government (didn't get more specific than that), which was how WGES was able to offer such a good deal. I don't know whether the government subsidized energy is true or not, but doesn't seem logical to me since 5% wind energy is such a small amount in comparison to a 50% discount in gas prices -- particularly when wind energy only produces electricity, not gas. When challenged, the WGES rep at my door claimed to not know how the wind energy production affected the gas prices. The WGES website actually notes this point, that 5% of the electricity it sells is from wind energy. (http://www.wges.com/page/wind.php). This may not seem relevant, but I mention it because I think it speaks to WGES credibility. You can draw your own conclusions.

When I asked the WGES representative how the WGES service would work, he explained I needed to give him my current gas provider account number, sign what was essentially a contract on that day (which I would get a copy of), but that he was take the original back to his company to submit to my gas provider to have the gas service switched over to WGES. When asked about changes to the billing, the rep explained there would be no changes. I would continue to receive bills from my current gas provider, and continue to pay my current gas provider directly. When I asked about the actual gas service, the rep explained the gas service would continue to be provided by my current gas company. He further explained that WGES sold bulk energy (gas and electricity) to certain energy companies, of which my current gas provider is one, but that the only change I would experience in switch service to WGES would be in the cost I paid every month. Keep this in mind for later.

I did not sign up with WGES, and am thankful for it. I called my gas provider today to try to find out what their understand is of WGES's services. My gas provider explained WGES is a legitimate third party energy supplier, but that they (my gas company's customer representatives) were still trying to understand the details of the business agreement WGES has with my gas company, because apparently the business relationship between these two companies is new. According to my gas company's customer rep on the phone, it was his understanding that some WGES customers were having problems with actual gas service -- i.e. receiving gas at their homes. He also explained whenever WGES customers called my gas company's customer service line with complaints/problems to report, they would have to refer the customers to a WGES customer service number. When asked for further clarification on the WGES service, my gas company customer rep explained that for customers switching over to WGES service, both the billing and the actual provision of gas is handled/controlled by WGES, not/not the original gas company. This is in direct contrast to what the WGES rep told me last week at my door.

I don't know whether this is a scam or not, but despite the attraction of cheaper gas prices, I'm not comfortable signing up with what appears to me to be a questionable company for such an important product. Maybe this is a good deal for some people, but I'm not willing to take this risk.

I would continue to receive

I would continue to receive bills from my current gas provider, and continue to pay my current gas provider directly. When I asked about the actual gas service, the rep explained the gas service would continue to be provided by my current gas company. He further explained that WGES sold bulk energy (gas and electricity) to certain energy companies, of which my current gas provider is one, but that the only change I would experience in switch service to WGES would be in the cost I paid every month. Keep this in mind for later.

Wind power

I have received several of the offers to change my electic power usage to 50 or 100% wind power. This implies that by paying a little more I can get all of my power from wind turbines. Since the transformer accross the street also suplies power to several homes, and its input source is one high voltage line, this would mean that the source of my power is the same as that to my neighbor's homes. Plus, there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of homes supplied from this same high voltage line. How could I be getting 100% wind power without all my neighbors getting the ame? Am I missing something here?

While this is not anything

While this is not anything for or against WGES since I've only just begun to research them, I wanted to answer your question directly, since it doesn't look like anyone else has.

To understand exactly how your power can be 50% or 100% wind power, you have to understand exactly how the utility system works... The entire nations utility power is on a "grid". There are LOTS of different sources of electric... various companies using various methods of generating power. All of this power is pumped into the "grid" basically on an "as needed" basis.

Let's think of it another way. In some areas, you can actually get reimbursed on your electric bill for excess power. In other words, let's say you install a wind turbine and solar panels... You produce 400kW in a given period, but only use 200kW. That means that for a given period, instead of "sucking" 400kW from "the grid", you've actually pumped 200kW back INTO the grid. So for that period, the power company will pay YOU for 200kW.

This is sort of the way all the companies supplying power to the grid works... But when you get right down to it, regardless of the "source" it's all just electric being pumped into the grid.

So when you say "I want 100% of my power to come from wind energy", what you are really saying is, "If I use 500kW of power for a given period, I want a company who supplies wind energy to the grid to supply an EXTRA 500kW of power to the grid for that period..."

I know that still seems confusing, but again, remember it's an "on demand" system... When that company pumps it's extra 500kW of power into the grid, that means a coal burning company pumps in 500kW LESS power into the grid...

So in other words, even though the "actual" energy you use really comes from all sources, you're changing the "balance" of which of those sources is sending more energy in...

Hope that helps!

Military Unfriendly

While WGES did have a better rate than PEPCO, they have a policy that due to unpayment they will automaticaly default you back to PEPCO. I am a service member who was unable to pay bills due to military service, I come home and have a notice that due to unpayment I am being sent back to PEPCO, I call to try to arrange something different but am told I have to wait a year and then I can reapply. This is crap what kind of service is this to our service men and women who lay down thier life so you can do crap like this to them!!!

WGES HORRIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE

I participate in the Clean Currents program, and I have no problems with it. However, the relationship between Clean Currents and WGES was never clear to me. The first year I signed up for 50% wind through the Clean Current website and everything was fine. I was told I could upgrade to 100% when it came time to renew my contract.

After I'd had my 50% wind power for a year, I got a letter saying that it was time to renew my contract at 50%. Did I want to renew locking in a certain rate? I said yes and sent the form off. I thought it was strange, though, that there was no option for renewing at 100%. So, I went back to the website (where I had initially enrolled) and went through the process to upgrade to 100%. Sometime later, I noticed there was a '50% wind add-on' fee on my bill (a WGES portion of my PEPCO bill). I called the customer service number given and was told that the form I had sent in locked me into a 2-year contract at 50%. When I then went on the website and put in my upgrade to 100%, that was 'an addition' to the form I'd sent in and so I was being charged extra for it. I said that I had thought it was all part of the same thing, that I had been surprised that there was no option to renew at 100%, and I thought I was renewing at 100% when I went through the website (which is how I enrolled initially). I was told that at the bottom of my renewal form had been something to the effect that "If you have any questions call such and such number." I was supposed to simply understand without being told that if I wanted an upgrade to 100% then I needed to call that number to arrange it. I told her they needed to provide clearer forms, but she said basically it would be too much trouble to do this and it was my fault/problem for not having called the customer service number. I said I thought that I had done this when I went on the website--but oh no, she said that was the *Clean Currents* website and had nothing to do with them, and on and on.

This is of course all over a *$14.00* monthly fee for what's described as a '50% wind add-on'. For me, it's not really the $14/month that matters so much as the insufficient information that WGES provided me at the time of renewal, and their complete unwillingness to take any responsibility for needing to make things clearer to the consumer.

Avoid WGES at all costs.

Avoid WGES at all costs. They charge you $480 when you change to another supplier, even if your 2 year contract ends, claiming an auto renewal. They try to charge you for terminating a contract you never agreed to!
Reply

Ignore the Complaint Maryland Green Power sent it with bill copy

Maryland Green Power has taken down the copy of the WGES bill from their website (the one showing the large cancellation fee for early termination which WGES levied) and now the blog post auto-forwards to another green energy company which competes with WGES, but does not require contracts, and thus, no cancellation fee as shown here:

http://www.marylandgreenpower.com/greenpower/wges

to all you idiots that are

to all you idiots that are saying shady door to door salesman dont deal with that person just because of a few bad apples does not mean that all agents are the same i recently sighned up with wges and have been very happy with my saveing on both my gas and electric and the young man who came to my door could not of been more polite and did not at all missrepresent himself as a peco employee or over exagerate the savings

Totally a Scam

I live in Baltimore and I used to work for WGES. Their sales tactics were both misleading and aggressive. They had us working all hours, from 9am to about 10 pm. This was a supposed "comission" job. ( rolls eyes ) yeah... right.. anyway they claimed I would make 17 dollars per house that I signed up for electric annd 18 per house I signed up for gas. There were times I signed up over 7 houses in one day. Almost 40 a week.. now I am not mathematician.. but I dang well know I deserved more than a 25 dollar check at the end of the week. They would say 'oh.. the customer cancelled the service.' Which was a load of bollocks. These people basically ripped off my paycheck, when I quit I was supposed to have my last check mailed to be.. I've been waiting almost 4 years.. so.. that just goes to show how they run their business. Basically this company was and is a pyramid scheme. I didn't realize it at first until my boyfriend at the time ( now my husband ) brought to my attention some of their shady tatics. And I am thankful he did because if I kept working there I wouldn't have been able to stomach knowingly ripping off my community by switching them to something I thought was going to save them money. I honestly thought that's what they were doing. Turns out- it was all a lie. Friends and Family complained about their BGE bills being jacked up to mountain Dew and Back. I felt bad, really bad that those closest to me endured this. Do no trust these people. Sure, I met some wonderful people who aren't complete jagoffs, but other than that- those people only care about the green in their pocket- not the green of the environment.

WGES calls my house everyday - PLEASE STOP CALLING ME

WGES calls at least 4 to 5 times every day. This is so annoying. I do not want their product/services. Does anyone know how to make them stop harassing me with these numerous daily unwanted calls?

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