Friday, April 20, 2018

Door to door energy vendors: I actually called police

Minutes ago, I called police and complained about the door-to-door energy vendors because among dozens of similar incidents, they were by far the most aggressive ones. I have never had anything resembling a real "argument" with such visitors – and there have been many. I made a search and decided that door-to-door vendors have been banned on the whole territory of Pilsen which is why I reported it.

This approach to "connect to the people" is widespread. Jehovah's Witnesses frequently come in pairs, they ring the bell – outside the building – and they're very pleasant. I have actually allowed them to get in about 10 times in my life, both in the U.S. and in Czechia – the experience was very similar in both countries. Also, some utility and communication companies did the same thing. That's why I switched from ČEZ to Centropol (energy) a few years ago, from O2 to Czech Radiocommunications (later bought by T-Mobile, but now I use the services of UPC) also a few years ago, and so on.

I think that both companies that I chose because of the door-to-door vendors were just fine. But at that time, they were already well-known companies. This one wasn't the case.

OK, so two missionaries – muscular guys, one of them was Czech, one of them was Slovak – were ringing the bells of the apartments inside the building. They needed to check whether the energy consumers have already switched to some new plan or something like that which is needed to save some fraction of the fees for the electricity. What they said sounded rather incoherent – I am improving what they actually said – and it seemed clear that they wanted the sentences to be incomprehensible.

They needed to see some documents from my distributor. On the Internet, I later found out that they use the data to write a new contract with their company. When I opened the door, I immediately asked who they were. These door-to-door business practices usually don't have terribly good ethical standards. They're basically scammers because they exert pressure to make the people sign something and they are hiding important aspects of what they are offering.

It took quite some time to find out that they are from "Comfort Energy". They marketed themselves as a branch of ČEZ, the largest energy supplier, which is enough to make such people look official. With some access to the Internet, it takes seconds to find out that "Comfort Energy" is an independent company that isn't a part of ČEZ in any meaningful way. In fact, it's owned by the same owners as Bohemia Energy, an important enough competitor of ČEZ.

At other places, they bring their new consumers LED light bulbs as "gifts". At the end, the consumers have to pay for the "gift" and it costs more than at other places. Also, they convince the people in the apartments that their distributor of energy isn't changed. It's true but they mask that they change the supplier which is arguably more important.

The Slovak guy's best argument that he was credible was that he had a telephone number. Impressive! I was so surprised that they assumed that I would accept their offers cordially – they seemed surprised that I was cautious at all. Almost everyone knows what these not terribly ethical door-to-door vendors – nicknames "šmejdi" in Czech, some kind of "jerks" or "m*therf*ckers" – are doing these things. But they pretended that I was a complete idiot. The Slovak guy started to argue with me that I knew nothing about the electricity prices and demanded that I would bring the papers with the numbers of the contracts (and the prices). I refused to do it. I insisted that I understood electricity prices more than he did ;-) which is almost certainly the case. They looked like two brain-dead gangsters to me.

Instead, his aggressive method to push me in a direction and get the damn documents persuaded me to call the police – after I found out that the door-to-door vendors should be banned everywhere in Pilsen. On the telephone line, I was told that indeed, it's banned in Pilsen. And some minutes later, three riot cops came to our concrete block, looking for the two bastards. Obviously, this looked disproportionate but that doesn't change the fact that I think it's right to fight against similar business practices.

Well, I don't think that police should be essential in that. When people start to react rationally and cautiously, the job of these people must cease to be profitable, right? Alternatively, they may raise the stakes and become more criminal than ever before.

P.S.: In the afternoon, I began the 2018 outdoor swimming season in the Lobzy lake. Global warming is fast – in 2012, I started 8 days later and some three years ago, I began in May. ;-)

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