Reader-submitted: Please warn the public about this disturbing incident (PHOTO)

viridReader-submitted: We recently moved into an existing home. After purchasing the home, we called all the utility companies to terminate our accounts in our previous home. Before opening the accounts for our new home we made sure that any accounts associated with the previous owners were no longer active.

Imagine my surprise then, when I received a letter from Viridian Energy today. It was addressed to ‘Current Resident’ and had an account number in it. I called to dispute the account and inform them that I had never given authorization to make them my provider.

They kept asking me for my name which I refused to give. I informed them that if I truly had an account with them, they would already have my name. They told me that this was the ‘verification process’ and they needed a name to see if I had an account. When I gave them the account number they said that there was indeed an account at this address and they needed my name to verify it. I asked for the first letter of the first name and while what they gave me didn’t match up, it was consistent with the name of the prior tenant. I asked for them to terminate the account as that family no longer lives here and doesn’t have any utilities in their names here either.

They got back to me stating that I need to call New Jersey Natural Gas and ask them why the previous tenants still had an account. They couldn’t terminate until NJNG let them know the tenants no longer live here.

The customer service representative from NJNG told me that the previous tenants definitely did not have any existing accounts open and that it was very good that I did not give Viridian my name. Had I done that, they would have used it as authorization to switch me over to their service. I erred in giving them the account on the letter I received because they could use that to switch me as well. He said he has seen people have accounts opened through Viridian under the name ‘Current Resident’. They will use any shred of personal information as authorization to switch you.

I was informed to be on the lookout for a letter from NJNG informing me that I have given authorization to switch to Viridian. I would need to call NJNG and tell them to stop the transfer. If I hadn’t been informed of this and overlooked that letter, I would be switched the Viridian without my knowledge or consent.

I was very disturbed to hear that it is so easy for this unethical company to obtain new clients in such a disingenuous manner.

I would like to inform the general public to be on the lookout for any junk mail from Viridian and if they receive, call your natural gas provider to investigate and NOT Viridian as they will use your phone call as the go-ahead to switch your account. I am enclosing a picture of the letter I received so people will know what to look for.

Thank you.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. This is really nice of you to share with the public. Thank you for informing everyone of this situation! I’m sure it will be of help to others.

  2. If you were switched without your permission you have the right to contact the NJ Board of Public Utilities and file a complaint. They would be the correct regulatory agency for such an incident and not the FTC. By regulation this puts the charges from the supplier “in dispute”. If the BPU finds that they have been slammed “the customer shall not be liable to its authorized TPS or its LDC for any charges in excess of those the customer would have been liable for had the slamming not occurred.”

    Contrary to what utilities sometimes tell customers in their laziness, having given the account number and name is NOT legally enough to be considered consent. They must “confirm that the person speaking voluntarily wishes to make the switch”.

    NJAC
    § 14:4-2.3

    2. An audio recording made by an independent third party or by a TPS of a customer agreeing to the switch verbally on a telephone call. The questions and statements of the independent third party or the TPS may be recorded or electronic. However, all customer responses shall be made verbally in real time. The verification shall:

    i. Include a statement by the customer of record, or person authorized to make the switch, of their first name, last name and the account service address;

    ii. Verify that the person speaking is the customer of record, or is authorized to make the switch;

    iii. Indicate the date of the recording;

    iv. Confirm that the person speaking voluntarily wishes to make the switch;

    v. Identify the name of the TPS to which the customer is switching;

    vi. Indicate the customer’s LDC account number and the type of service to be switched;

    vii. State the price per kwh or therm, whether the price is fixed for a period of time or variable, and if fixed, for what period of time;

    viii. The amount of any cancellation fees and/or any other charges not included in the per unit price under (c)2vii above; and

    ix. Include a recording of the entire duration of the call, from the first contact with the customer to the disconnection of the call. This requirement may be waived with the customer’s consent;

    § 14:4-2.7 Slamming complaints and investigation

    (a) A customer that believes it has been the victim of slamming may contact the TPS to resolve the problem, and/or may contact the Board and file a written complaint.

    (b) If a customer contacts the Board with an allegation that the customer has been slammed, the portion of the customer’s bill that relates to the TPS’s services shall be considered in dispute starting upon the date of the switch that is the subject of the slamming complaint. The TPS shall be subject to the same procedures and requirements that apply to a utility involved in a billing dispute, as set forth at N.J.A.C. 14:3-7.6.

    (c) The Board may investigate an allegation of slamming or any other violation of this subchapter upon its own initiative or upon a complaint.

    (d) (Reserved)

    (e) If the Board finds that a customer has been slammed, the customer shall not be liable to its authorized TPS or its LDC for any charges in excess of those the customer would have been liable for had the slamming not occurred.

    (f) If a customer disputes a switch, either before or after the LDC effectuates the switch, the TPS shall produce all documentation required under N.J.A.C. 14:4-2.3(c) and/or (g) and/or 2.4, within 10 business days after a request by the customer or the Board.

  3. To number 5- “out of towner”- and to everyone else who is interested in speaking a proper English-
    The word is “supposedly”. There is no such word “supposably”.

  4. I previously worked as a collection agent for a firm that had bought Viridian’s account receivables. I would say about 90% of the debtors had no idea that they had ever received energy supplied by Viridian.

  5. actually # 6, if you look at dictionary online. supposably is a word. it’s the adverb for suppose. not commonly used maybe but it is a word.

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