Illinois residents may have been swindled out of $15 million due to allegedly deceptive tactics by alternative electric supplier Residents Energy, according to a 50-page complaint filed on September 29. The lawsuit, announced by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office, accuses the company of engaging in deceptive practices, potentially causing some customers’ energy costs to triple.
The complaint alleges that Residents Energy’s sales force promised customers “historically low” first-month rates without adequately disclosing that these were temporary deals. Some recorded phone calls reveal salespeople claiming that their rates were consistently lower than those of the utility company. However, the suit asserts that, on average, the company’s rates were nearly double those offered by ComEd in 2020.
From 2018 to 2020, the complaint alleges that Residents Energy customers paid 55% more than they would have with the public utility company. The state also accuses the company of violating Illinois’ Telephone Solicitations Act by providing third-party salespeople with a script that fails to promptly state the purpose of the call. Instead, the script reportedly begins with a rebate offer and can mislead customers into thinking they are affiliated with the public utility.
Additionally, salespeople allegedly told falsehoods during recorded phone calls, including discussing rebates through a non-existent program called the “Illinois Energy Choice Program.” Some customers were misled into believing that the public utility company charged them every time they opened their fridge.
The state’s complaint also references numerous complaints filed by residents with the Illinois Commerce Commission. These complaints claim that they weren’t informed when their bills increased by more than 20% from one month to the next, which is illegal in Illinois. Some residents also alleged that they were enrolled in Residents Energy programs without their consent through manipulated audio recordings, which the state characterizes as a “widespread company practice.”
Residents Energy LLC, headquartered in New York, has been operating in Illinois since 2016 and is active in nine other states, including Indiana and Michigan.
The company faces 12 charges in total from Illinois, each carrying a potential $50,000 penalty, which doubles if the violation affects someone with a disability or who is 60 years or older.
Illinois is also seeking an injunction to halt the company’s business practices during the litigation. The state aims to provide relief to those who were deceived by the company and cover investigation costs. A hearing is scheduled for January 30, 2024.
Residents Energy LLC was sued last year by an Elmhurst man who received numerous unsolicited calls soliciting energy services, even after registering his phone on the National Do Not Call Registry. The suit also alleged the use of illegal “automatic telephone dialing systems” and automated voice systems. The plaintiff sought $1,500 per call, among other damages.
Deceptive practices by energy suppliers can affect residents nationwide. If you believe you’ve been a victim of such tactics, it’s crucial to take action. Document your experiences, seek guidance from consumer protection agencies, and stay informed about legal actions against these companies.
For personalized advice and a free consultation, don’t hesitate to call our law office. We’re here to help you understand your rights and explore potential legal remedies. By standing up against deceptive practices, you not only protect your rights but also contribute to a fair marketplace for everyone. Don’t let deceptive energy suppliers go unchecked—take action today by contacting our team.
Source: Illinois sues alternative electric supplier for ‘deceptive’ tactics that may have cost residents $15 million | Chicago Sun Times