Proton Energy - Outright lied to me about business practices and abhorrent customer service

Electricity - Complaint
Review by welch.mari on 2012-09-19
Rating: StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star
HOUSTON, TEXAS -- I wanted to like this company because they are local, a startup, and cheap. They don't have a functional website, they charge credit card fees, and they're virtually unheard of. That's all fine by me. But things that seem too good to be true usually are.

I found out on short notice that I had gotten a great apartment and I called Proton to let them know that day (Thursday 9/13) that I would be moving on Saturday 9/15. I knew it would probably be Tuesday before the electricity could be transferred, and at that point I was even comfortable paying a fee to rush the service. When I called (multiple calls to all of the numbers on their website), no one picked up and no one returned my voicemails. Same story for Friday 9/14.

The next day, in the middle of moving, I called again and finally someone picked up the phone. They instructed me to send them an email with my old address and new address, and assured me that service to my old apartment would be cut off immediately. Easy enough. I did it within ten minutes and did not receive a confirmation or reply. The next day (Sunday 9/16), the power was still on at my old apartment. I called (multiple times, multiple numbers) with the intention to pay a fee to rush my service, but to no avail. I also sent an email requesting a returned call or email or some kind of communication on their end to move the matter forward. In that email I requested receipt of said email, which I still have not gotten.

Finally, on Monday 9/17 in the afternoon, I stopped by my old property to drop off my keys and saw that the power was still on in my old apartment. I called and Jey, one of their employees, finally picked up the phone. I told him that the power was still on in my old apartment and that the power was not on in my new apartment. This is where it gets good. Jey tells me that they never received my request. He has no record of me calling or leaving voicemails, and no record of me emailing. Finally he begrudgingly finds my emails (but only the one from Saturday) and informs me that all requests must be in writing. Sure, I get that, it's in the TOS. Totally acceptable. My problem here is that I tried to call on Thursday and Friday, multiple times throughout the day, to inquire about how to start the process of transferring my service. If someone at the company had picked up any of their phones and told me to send an email, I absolutely would have.

Jey, after "shush"ing me several times and telling me to "stop talking" so he could further talk to me like a toddler, told me that there was nothing he could do--that they don't work on Saturday and Sunday so my calls then were moot. Certainly, but it appears that they don't work on Thursday or Friday either! I got pretty fed up with Jey and asked to speak to someone else. He handed me over to another guy (didn't catch his name, but at least he spoke to me like an adult even though he defended the company's terrible policies) and he claimed that someone checked the company's voicemails "every five minutes" and that there was an employee dedicated solely to returning calls and emails. That guy should probably be fired, but in all likelihood he does not exist.

Eventually I get handed back to Jey and he says that if I want my service turned on that day, it would be $100. This is after he tried to charge me a second transfer fee, which I called him on immediately. He told me there was "no way to bypass the fee," which is know is absolutely not true. I would be totally fine paying this fee on Thursday or Friday. But I refuse to pay for their lack of customer service. In their TOS they do require email notification, but as a service company they also have somewhat of an ethical obligation to maintain a certain level of customer service, and they would have satisfied that by picking up the phone on Thursday and telling me to send an email. Or even returning my call on Friday morning. Or emailing me. Or texting me. Anything.

What it comes down to is that I have my cell phone records right in front of me showing NOT ONE call from any of their numbers, aside from one on Monday afternoon when the associate had to call me back after speaking to someone else. The only email I have received from them in this incident is one asking me to complete a customer service survey. Here you go guys. This is getting copied to every review site, emailed to everyone I know (my friends and I love supporting startups, but not these scumbags), sent to the BBB, and posted all over the web. Screwing up is okay, lying about it is not, and my lights still aren't on.

One lesson from business school that these guys clearly missed: it's much more expensive to attract a new customer than to retain an old one.

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