Energy marketing is suspect, critics say | The Columbus Dispatch

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How would you like to make $20,000 a month working from home? All you have to do is sell natural-gas plans to your friends and family, and the money will begin to flow.

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Chuck the duck

Columbus, OH

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#2
Jun 20, 2010
 

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Talk about advocacy in Ohio. What is the cut for regulators in Ohio for looking the other way?
Mike

Columbus, OH

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#3
Jun 20, 2010
 
The advocacy(!) groups are busy collecting their share of the 162 million that will newly arrive at AEP which are the fruits of their programs and decisions. They are busy planning how to spend the extra windfall.
Renae

Columbus, OH

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#4
Jun 20, 2010
 

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Look at the Buckeye Institue website where the salaries of state employees are given. It shows that the Consumers' Counsel's salary has jumped up by a cool $50000 dollars from the first year of her employment with OCC. Need to say more about why we the consumers see outrageous gas and elecricity bills? The 50000 salary increase is obscene and no other state employee has ever seen a 50,000 dollar jump in state salary in the history of state salaries in Ohio. Even the PUCO commissioners salary is less than the salary of the Consumers' Counsel and the governor's salary is as well less. Should explain this is not to take care of us the consumers. This salary is to take of something else.

That something else is to turn their faces away when atrocities happen in the name of AEP fees or this type of private deals etc., etc.
Mellissa

Columbus, OH

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#5
Jun 20, 2010
 

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In England, when a public official is not doing his or her job, the government, with the help of the public will bring in a "no-confidence" movement and remove the official from his or her position. Here the OCC Board or PUCO will not remove the advocates who are creating havocs in our utility bills mainly because they (and others) are all in it. They all want a piece of the pie. If Dispatch investigated this, they will realize as to how many of the board members' families hold stocks of AEP and other utility companies. Honestly, isn't it this advocate's freakin' job to know about a company like this?
CMH Ted

Columbus, OH

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#6
Jun 20, 2010
 

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This is good reporting. Nice Job, Dispatch.
jay

Canton, OH

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#7
Jun 21, 2010
 

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I'm not sure it's fair to judge this model based on the inability to guarantee a savings. How is this different than the current suppliers peppering you with fixed rate offers all of the time. Are those guaranteed to be the lowest rates? Doesn't it make you question why the only flyers ever sent out by the utility marketers are fixed rate plans? Who do you think has better intelligence on where the energy prices are going - you or the energy supplier? I'm pretty sure there is a very good (and profitable) reason the suppliers only market fixed rates. That being said, there are certainly people in the MLM energy space that are all about the recruiting and much less about the customers but again, it is unfair to paint everyone in this business with a broad brush. My wife and me are in this with CCM and the main reason we like the model is that it's quite apparent whether you can save a potential customer money compared to their current plan. If we can save them money, it's a no contract, no penalty enrollment. If they are in a good plan and we can't save them money at this time then we recommend that they stay where they are and we'll check back with them later to see if we can be more competitive. No high pressure, no trying to force a plan that doesn't make sense for them down their throats. That is a short sighted and ultimately a failing strategy. Treat people right, be honest, offer a value and your chances of success (and referrals) go up exponentially. Just my two cents.
Ann White

Bellbrook, OH

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#8
Aug 11, 2010
 
Very helpful in some ways. Wish someone could explain the purpose behind two Columbia's and Vectren and Vectren source. A bit confusing!

If I understand ...UCI makes money and so do agents. I have Vectren Source...for a long time they offered discounts to customers on many things...not actually a very good deal...you had to spend $100 to save $10....I assume to encourage customer base to stick with them. How is that different than spreading the wealth among MLM agents?
James

New Albany, OH

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#9
Oct 11, 2010
 

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I wouldnt mind my friend making a few bucks off me vs some company I could care less about. Isnt that the american dream, to have others with more instead of 1 or 2 with all?
Shad

Columbus, OH

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#10
Oct 30, 2010
 

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I'm a UCI representative and it's not a scam. The money you pay is for your own home based business. You can claim UCI as a 1099 and get your money back regardless. Also you have to have customers not just agents who sign up to make money(that is a PYRAMID). If you don't work your business you won't make money I don't understand how that is a scam? Also if there is no commitments, no fees, and it's FREE why wouldn't people try an alternative supplier. Columbia Gas gets paid regardless of who supplies the gas so save money. This article is bias check out UCI yourself teamuci.com/Jones
Kathryn

Erie, PA

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#11
Nov 12, 2010
 
Interesting prospective from the Dispatch reporter; with virtually NO complaints to the PUCO, why did this reporter choose to concentrate on UCI and not, for instance, First Energy, which has received HUNDREDS of complaints? Sounds like some kind of personal agenda to me. Just because this company is marketing in an "unconventional way" for Ohio does not mean it is any less reputable.

Because of deregulation requirements in Ohio, consumers HAVE to choose a supplier or have one chosen for them in the next year; why not go with a company which shows integrity and honesty and help your friend or neighbor to earn money at the same time? There are NO FEES, NO PENALTIES, & NO CONTRACTS to try their service, unlike other providers which are locking in people at high rates for up to FIVE YEARS.

Personally speaking, I have seen a monthly savings from paying 99 cents to 70 cents per CCF with UCI. This is not a fake promotional offer for a few months before the 'real' rate kicks in.
Kathryn

Erie, PA

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#12
Nov 12, 2010
 
Ann White wrote:
Very helpful in some ways. Wish someone could explain the purpose behind two Columbia's and Vectren and Vectren source. A bit confusing!
If I understand ...UCI makes money and so do agents. I have Vectren Source...for a long time they offered discounts to customers on many things...not actually a very good deal...you had to spend $100 to save $10....I assume to encourage customer base to stick with them. How is that different than spreading the wealth among MLM agents?
Another energy provider from Dublin bought the rights to Columbia Energy and are marketing under that name hoping that people don't think there's a difference between them and Columbia Gas. Actually a pretty smart marketing move to confuse people with brand loyalty to Columbia Gas.
Jonny B G

United States

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#13
Jan 25, 2011
 
I have some things in this I agree with and some I do not.
First of all, Volunteer Enregy itself is a great company, A+ rated on the BBB and I know in my market area through a company I am with they have saved for over 2 straight years. I am not sure about every OH utlity.

What I do now like however, is in watching the compensation video. I agree that they only show you what you make when you reach what was it 65,000 customers? But it is also divvied up in such a way that no average perso is going to know what they make on their customers. 30%. well great. 30% of what?

since they have people making $10,000/mo and people making nothing that is not a good answer.
Mr. Mintz should really state what the mean, median or mode is as far as how much they make.
In other words. they have 3000 reps and 15000 customers It said? that is 5 customers per person. Not bad. but nowhere near the 20. Ok that means it would take 4 years for the "average" person to get to this piont given this fact.

It isn't bad, people should stick with something, but I have asked several people in the company who post ads online, and other areas how much they make on their own customers. Noone can answer the question, they just retort with "this is about building a team, pays way more" great, that is obvious. but it is does not answer the question now does it?
So in a nutshell. UCI is a great company in the sense it chose a superb supplier but from a standpoint of painting too big a rainbow. I do not find that to be entirely honest. Just a piont of view. Their gas custoemrs are definitely being taken care of however.
anonymous

Chesterland, OH

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#14
Feb 6, 2011
 
I can tell you point blank - Steer clear of the Mintz treo!!! I have worked with these guys in the past and can tell you they have ZERO Integrity - Especially Steve and Damon. Judd on the other hand is a good guy but falls victim to his Father and brothers antics when working with them. The Network Marketing Industry is a superb business model - but only when the company is being run with True Integrity! You will not find that with UCI! Put it to the litmus test and call 25 of the most prominent people you know in the Cleveland, OH area (excluding UCI reps of course)and ask them if they know Steve and Damon Mintz - if they do, ask them what type of business men they are and you will get the answer you are looking for. They are No Good! Take it from me and save yourself the time, effort and energy - and seek out a company with ownership that operates with integrity by walking the walk - not preaching how they are Christians and then completely lie and screw over all in their path for their own personal gain.
Cincinnati OH Area

Cincinnati, OH

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#15
Feb 11, 2011
 
We have friends and family members in Cleveland who joined UCI, and though it all feels very scammy and uncomfortable to me, we can't prove there has been any wrong-doing. Strongsville, can you elaborate on your comments on the Mintz family? Though they seem like sleaze buckets to me with their grammatically-incorrect webinars, pompous business-speak, and poorly edited website, I can't prove anything, and all we hear about them is how they're "good Christian guys."
What I can say is that UCI's gas rate through Volunteer is signiciantly higher than the rate at our local utility, so we're unable to support our friends and family by using them. I hear UCI/Volunteer is actually competitive in other markets, but that's not the case for us.
Rudy

Rocky River, OH

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#16
Feb 22, 2011
 
TOTALLY agree with you! Their business practices are suspect. Many who know of them and their past land deals in Florida and how they steal reps from their downline to benefit themselves and false reporting and submission of customer qualifications to achieve bonus' and higher levels all steer clear of them. No integrity at all!
anonymous wrote:
I can tell you point blank - Steer clear of the Mintz treo!!! I have worked with these guys in the past and can tell you they have ZERO Integrity - Especially Steve and Damon. Judd on the other hand is a good guy but falls victim to his Father and brothers antics when working with them. The Network Marketing Industry is a superb business model - but only when the company is being run with True Integrity! You will not find that with UCI! Put it to the litmus test and call 25 of the most prominent people you know in the Cleveland, OH area (excluding UCI reps of course)and ask them if they know Steve and Damon Mintz - if they do, ask them what type of business men they are and you will get the answer you are looking for. They are No Good! Take it from me and save yourself the time, effort and energy - and seek out a company with ownership that operates with integrity by walking the walk - not preaching how they are Christians and then completely lie and screw over all in their path for their own personal gain.
jay

Massillon, OH

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#17
Feb 22, 2011
 
I can't speak to the specific examples given on the Mintz guys but when they were with CCM it was a bit strange to have the 'training' over emphasize the recruiting aspect of the business and under emphasize the product training. I certainly understand the benefits of recruiting new reps but some of their training strongly encouraged a new rep to schedule a PBR as soon as he/she joined and before even gathering customers or getting sufficiently trained on the product offerings. Some of their downline would say, 'Don't worry about signing up customers now. Schedule your PBR and build your downline. You can gather customers later.' Perhaps, but that seemed like the wrong sequence of events to me. It certainly made me question the motivation for such advice at the very least. CCM now has an extensive product training protocol and saved conference calls and webinars in the backoffice software so brokers can listen at the times that work best for them. There is also a question and answer session each week regarding product and business processes. Very informative and 'feels' like the right way to conduct this business model.
Sharon

Canal Fulton, OH

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#18
Mar 7, 2011
 
I am going with Volunteer because a neighbor who has joined UCI introduced me. I checked and I see that Volunteer has an A rating with the Better Business Bureau! I also couldn't find anything bad about UCI! The Volunteer rate is variable but right now its lower than our previous supplier IGS; plus previously we had a contract with IGS that we didn't even know about and they were going to fine us $150. for leaving them! WHAT?? I am very happy to go with UCI and Volunteer - no fees for switching, no contracts and I am helping someone who has been struggling! What is wrong with that!
Jay

Canton, OH

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#19
Mar 10, 2011
 
Sharon wrote:
I am going with Volunteer because a neighbor who has joined UCI introduced me. I checked and I see that Volunteer has an A rating with the Better Business Bureau! I also couldn't find anything bad about UCI! The Volunteer rate is variable but right now its lower than our previous supplier IGS; plus previously we had a contract with IGS that we didn't even know about and they were going to fine us $150. for leaving them! WHAT?? I am very happy to go with UCI and Volunteer - no fees for switching, no contracts and I am helping someone who has been struggling! What is wrong with that!
Nothing is wrong with that. I think the discussion here is more focused on the business opportunity itself and with whom to align in an effort to capitalize on the business opportunity (if you see one). You sound like a customer of a UCI rep that got what you believed was a fair rate with acceptable terms to you. That's good. Helping out a friend is also nice but the commission your friend makes on your account is probably less than $1 a month so I'm not sure the 'help' is as much financial as it is emotional. Nonetheless, good for you and them.
Agent in Ohio

Bolivar, OH

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#20
Mar 24, 2011
 
Recruitment videos (and presentations) say agents make 30% shared revenue on each gas customer. Sounds like it could be great, right? Wrong, one of my gas customers is saving $300 a month but I get less than $5. Their backoffice costs $30 a month, why? The cost of the software couldn't be that astronomical. Early agents were duped into believing the money will be great, a "no brainer". The rates they have to offer now do not come close to the competition's, for what ever reason, Enrolling is a waste of your time and money and an abuse of all your friends. Don't be fooled like I was. The originators are rich men who know how to take from the gullible, like me. They keep changing their program and doing things that were stated as being something that the company would absolutely not do. When you drop out the other people in your "upline" don't even get the income generated from their effortd in recruiting you in the first place. Where is all that money going? Guess and Beware!!
BEWARE

Chagrin Falls, OH

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#21
Mar 27, 2011
 
The company has now changed names (INVADO). If that isn't a sign of shady, I don't know what is. I'm sure all of the greedy people who are trying to scam their friends will say this is because the company is moving "forward" but I wouldn't buy it. Check into the characters who run the company. Ask REAL business professionals in the Cleveland area about this company and more importantly, the people running it and you'll get your answer...SCAM, run away FAST!

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