Posted by kankakeegazette.com staff | News & Opinion June 16, 2012, 6:30 a.m.
The City of Kankakee’s choice for our electricity municipal aggregation program, First Energy Solutions Corp. (FES), forgot to provide accessible ways to opt-out of their program as required in their contract. And let’s be honest about this: the City of Kankakee forgot to care!
According to the contract with the City of Kankakee, FES must provide the following (page 8, section 18.104.22.168 :
In addition to receiving completed Opt-Out Notices from Eligible Customers by mail, the Supplier shall, at its own expense, provide, operate, and maintain a toll-free number and secure website for the use of Eligible Customers to opt out of the Program.
www.fes.com/kankakee is the web address provided on the FES letter to the eligible customers in Kankakee. It appears to be for opt-out as required by the FES contract.
But when you enter the address, you get a web page talking about “enroll now”. As you can see in this PDF of the web page captured June 16, 2012, there is nothing here about opting-out.
Clerks reached in two separate calls to the toll-free number courteously said there is no website for opt-out, only opt-in. And there is also no opt-out by phone. One of the clerks placed me on hold to find the answer to my question of why no one could opt-out by phone or on the website.
She came back with this answer: “The company needs a signature on file from people who opt-out.” She said that’s why no one can opt-out on the phone or on a website. She was a good customer service agent and persistent in trying to answer my questions and provide information about FES procedures.
It is confusing, though. FES doesn’t seem to have any of the same concerns about someone forging an opt-in on another person’s account. No signature required for those anxious to give FES their business – toll-free phones and a special website await all opt-ins!
My first question to the FES clerk now seems rather naive: I would like you to
confirm you received my opt-out form. The clerk said they did not have anything to do with opting out. They usually just answer questions about rates and differences in rates and about the company. FES does not confirm to customers and if something unlikely happens, like FES misses scanning your opt-out form, you can always rescind within 30 days after they switch you to FES electricity supply. Oh, goodie!
According to the contract, FES is at least required to report to the City of Kankakee who FES has recorded as included and who’s opting out. But so far, the FES record on following the contract regarding handling of Kankakee’s eligible customers isn’t really living up to the expectations of those who read their contract.
In addition to FES’s we don’t resolve any problems we create, we don’t answer the phone to confirm you’re recorded on our opt-out and we don’t make mistakes (I was told), the city of Kankakee seems to be taking a similar hands-off position. This statement is near the bottom of your FES letter by the opt-out form: “Please do not call the city of Kankakee with aggregation program questions.”
Perhaps it doesn’t mean that the city of Kankakee won’t keep it’s own list of opt-outs if you send a note to them. After-all, it’s their program to help the city make a little extra money from FES, so they want it to work well. All of us want it to work well.
So it seemed like a good idea to notify the Illinois Commerce Commission of FirstEnergy Solutions violations of their contract with the city of Kankakee. The request is for ICC (if they are so empowered) to request that due to the lack of customer opt-out options and no customer service for opt-outs, FES extend it’s deadline to opt-out until 14 days after they have provided the required options in their contract with the people of Kankakee.
If not, maybe the next contract needs to be opt-in only.
Read the complete contract between the City of Kankakee and First Energy Solutions.
*Appears to be a violation of the City of Kankakee Council Code of Conduct:
dis•re•gard (d s r -gärd )
tr.v. dis•re•gard•ed, dis•re•gard•ing, dis•re•gards
1. To pay no attention or heed to; ignore.
2. To treat without proper respect or attentiveness.
1.7 All Members of City Council shall work and strive to inspire public confidence in Kankakee City government
1.8 All Members of City Council shall demonstrate honesty and integrity in every action and statement.