FairPoint Energy’s false-front operation

I’ve been digging up some information on FairPoint Energy. This article provides some interesting information, starting with the instruction “NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION IN THE UNITED STATES OR OVER UNITED STATES WIRE SERVICES.” At first I figured broadcastermagazine.com put this restriction on all their material for some lawyer-related reason, but browsing through their news, I can’t find it on anything else. We’re not supposed to know this in New Hampshire, I guess.

The article tells us what FairPoint Energy is in business terms:

FairPoint Energy, LLC is a subsidiary of the Crius Energy, LLC, a competitive energy provider that is unaffiliated with FairPoint Communications or its subsidiaries. FairPoint Energy is a local provider of affordable, retail energy that offers 100% green energy options to customers in Maine and New Hampshire. FairPoint Energy was created through a strategic relationship between Crius Energy, LLC and FairPoint Communications and uses the FairPoint Energy name under a license agreement with FairPoint Communications, Inc. FairPoint EnergySM is a service mark of FairPoint Communications, registration pending.

This agrees with the fine print on FairPoint’s own website. It’s operating under the name of New Hampshire’s local telephone monopoly, having gotten permission to. To me, since I’ve had to deal with FairPoint Communications’ unreliable ADSL, the name was a negative point, but I suppose the familiarity of the name gives Crius’s operation an unearned advantage in many people’s minds. In an earlier letter, That same web page gives 866-984-2001 as its phone number, even though that number belongs to FairPoint Communications. When I called to get my account cancelled, it was clear I was initially dealing with people who had nothing to do with FairPoint Energy, though they eventually got me to the right place.

I wonder if that was part of the marketing agreement, and what FairPoint Communications employees think of having to answer calls by people upset with a company they don’t work for.

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FairPoint Energy overbills customers it illegitimately acquires

I’ve posted a couple of times about the practices of FairPoint Energy, which snagged me as an unwilling customer without my consent. Today I received a notice that it also overbilled me. The notice doesn’t say for how much.

There is no acknowledgement that I have instructed Fairpoint to terminate my service, and my last electric bill still shows them as collecting it. Since Fairpoint was never legally entitled to bill me, anything it charged me is really overbilling. But this just helps to show that FairPoint is a complete sleaze.

Update: On its homepage, FairPoint Energy says that it is “is unaffiliated with FairPoint Communications or its subsidiaries,” though it has a “marketing relationship” with FairPoint Communications. So why did they give me the phone number of FairPoint Communications in their previous communication?

Further thought: I don’t know the details of how these alternative power companies work in New Hampshire, but it smells like the kind of false deregulation that bombed in California years ago. Evidently they get to use PSNH as a billing agency, allowing dubious startups to get into the business without having to engage in normal business communications with their “customers.”

Update, June 7: I’ve re-titled this post to make it clearer that it’s about FairPoint Energy and not FairPoint Communications.

Click the “Fairpoint” tag under this post for earlier posts on the subject.

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More dubious stuff from FairPoint Energy

In my posts of February 20, 23 and 25, I wrote of my problems with getting switched to FairPoint energy without my consent. I thought I’d had it all straightened out and was rid of them, when today I got a letter starting, “Thank you for choosing us as your energy supplier. We are proud to provide you with an electricity plan that offers significant benefits…”

The letter gave the number 866-984-2001 to call if I had any questions. That number gave me four options, none of which were really right. I picked the one about having trouble, which got me repair service. They switched me to another number, where I had to talk to an idiot who asked if I wanted to add FairPoint service when I just said I wanted to get rid of it. The third person I talked to was helpful, though, and processed cancellation of my account. However, there should have been no account to cancel.

The act of involuntarily switching people to another service provider is called “slamming,” and it looks from here as if that’s what FairPoint is doing. If not, it’s serious incompetence. The last person I talked to sounded as if she’d been getting a lot of these calls.

I think it’s time for me to contact the Public Utilities Commission. I just hope this doesn’t result in my power or Internet service (where I’m stuck with FairPoint) suddenly being termina

Resident Power / PNE / Fairpoint Energy

This is off the usual themes of my blog, but I think it’s important to get the word out.

A while back I signed up with Resident Power for my electrical power in Nashua, NH. It seemed like a good deal, with lower rates, until the first time I had a question. It was only then that I realized that Resident Power’s website has hardly any support information, just a generic “info” address to contact.

Yesterday I received a notice from Power New England (PNE), which is another name for Resident Power, stating that my service is being reassigned to FairPoint energy. It says that I can opt out of this and revert to PSNH, but doesn’t give any information on how to do this. Fairpoint currently provides my Internet connectivity, and I’m constantly getting dropouts. (The only high-speed alternative is Comcast, with which I have other problems.) I can accept that level of service for Internet but it doesn’t make me trust them for electrical service, which is more critical. Correction: Resident Power is an aggregator and isn’t the same company as PNE.

Resident Power never explained the billing procedure properly; I got another bill from PSNH with no notification of termination, made a flurry of phone calls and emails (finding the right address to contact with some difficulty) to try to get things straightened out, and finally was told I’d continue to be billed through PSNH.

Resident Power’s website is still asking people to sign up and doesn’t mention that the whole operation has been sold! This looks like deceptive advertising to me.

Sometimes there’s a reason for paying more. PSNH is a known quantity and doesn’t put the same kind of barriers between its customers and support. I’m getting away from Resident Power, PNE, and FairPoint Energy as fast as I can.

Update, June 7, 2013: I’ve re-titled this post to clarify that it’s about FairPoint Energy, whose only connection with FairPoint Communications is that they paid to use the name.

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