Knock Knock Who’s There?

Last Tuesday afternoon while most of you were at work someone was knocking on your door. Guess who. No, it wasn’t the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol. Sorry to disappoint you. On the contrary, you were visited by an IDT Energy sales agent.

This was not the first time that IDT agents have come calling at FGC. They crop up periodically like a bad headache. Their appearances change, but the sales pitch doesn’t. This is how it goes. The agent knocks. You answer. The first thing he (or she) does after hastily introducing himself is to ask to see your electric bill. “What for?” you ask. “To determine whether the power company is giving you a discount,” he replies. If you are wise to the game, right then is when the red flag rises.

I stopped the agent mid-sentence between power and company and told him that I wasn’t interested. Then I warned him that solicitors were not allowed in the buildings. He ignored me and continued going  door-to-door and then went to the next building. The co-op president also informed him of the no soliciting policy and told him that the police would be called if he did not leave the property. “Call them,” he said bluffing like a bad poker player. We did. Apparently, the idea of facing law officers was not as appealing to him as trying to earn a commission off us. He left the property before police arrived. Sorry guy. I know that everyone needs a source of income, but find a better job.

Competition among energy supply companies is just one more thing to rattle consumers’ nerves. I did some research to determine the legitimacy of IDT Energy. It is one of many businesses licensed to sell electricity in D.C. and some other states. But – there have been numerous complaints made against IDT Energy and its agents for their aggressive sales tactics and outright scams.

Some consumers claim to have unknowingly had their energy service switched by fast talking agents. One woman, stating that she never signed up for the service, wrote “When I opened my bill I almost fell over. It was almost $700…They just added themselves to my bill without me changing it.”

Buyer beware is not just a frivolous statement. You should never show a stranger any document containing your personal information, especially when it includes an account number. Avoid sharing personal information with solicitors. That applies whether they come to your door or call on the phone — another tactic IDT agents use. Your caller ID will not likely show the caller as IDT, but one of the local numbers they are using is 202-330-3580. Let the call go to voice mail. They won’t leave a message.

Consumer advocacy sites like and list scams and horror stories reporting bad and unprofessional behavior by IDT Energy and its agents. 

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Safeway May Sell Its Company — Some of you may have recently received a mailer containing a $10 off coupon and advertising the Grand Re-Opening of the Piney Branch Road Safeway, following its recent forced one day closure by the Health Department, due to code violations. The tactic is an apparent attempt to win back dissatisfied customers, but can it wave off the smoke on the horizon? Surely, you know what they say about smoke. According to Reuters, Safeway, Inc. announced on Wednesday that it is discussing the possible sell of the company. Could the reason be because Safeway stores are facing tough competition from retailers like Kroger, Costco, and – you guessed it – Walmart?

If the Piney Branch Road Safeway is sold and subsequently shut down, that grocery store will be added to the list of other businesses that have left the Brightwood community. Posin’s Bakery/Delicatessen, Ida’s Department Store, Hechingers, Trak Auto, and most recently Curtis Chevrolet are all gone now. Will Safeway follow?

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