Town boots solicitors after multiple complaints

Posted at 6:22 AM, Feb 02, 2016

The Town of Cheektowaga has revoked the solicitors permits for a gas company after receiving multiple complaints from residents.

Police say a company called "New York Gas and Electric" or "United States Gas and Electric" was going door-to-door, asking to see residents' utility bills.

"When they do get to these homes, they are very insistent about getting inside," said Assistant Chief Jim Speyer of the Cheektowaga Police Department. "They will say they have to read it, and some of these people are elderly and don't understand you don't have to let anyone in your home."

This is a private company whose employees do not belong to the Town of Cheektowaga or NYSEG and police say they were being aggressive. Residents were warned to use caution and were told they do not have to show them their utility bills.

Sherry Vici had first-hand experience with the solicitors at her home.

"It was a man at the door, I didn't know who he was. He claimed to be working for the Town of Cheektowaga and wanted me to give him copies of all my utility bills," said Vici. "When I told him I paid on my phone, he said he would wait and look at them on my smartphone."

Vici says after back-and-forth with the businessman, she told him to leave her property. She immediately called Town Supervisor Diana Benczkowski, who had a similar experience at her home.

"They came and knocked on my door, aggressively knocked on my door," Benczkowski said. "They were showing me their permit, and in big letters on the top it read 'Town of Cheektowaga'  and then in small print it gave their name New York Electric and Gas."

Benczkowski says Cheektowaga is not alone. Her office received a call from the Town of Tonawanda, saying residents there are also experiencing this problem.

Because of their tactics, police moved to have their solicitor permits revoked. The department says if this company's employees are found in Cheektowaga, they are there soliciting illegally and you should immediately contact police.

Live video, the latest news and no surveys - download the WKBW app
News, forecast and Bills newsletters delivered to your e-mail inbox