JumpHome turns off lights

December 2, 2002

Utilities connections provider shuts down operations

Inman News Features

It's lights out for Westerville, Ohio-based JumpHome, a nearly three-year-old company that promised to facilitate utilities hookups and other service connections for new homeowners.

The company on Friday began notifying callers via an outgoing telephone answering message that it had ceased operations and was no longer processing service requests.

JumpHome touted itself as being the first company to provide utility and other home connections services that real estate brokers could offer free of charge to new homeowners. The centralized service facilitated such hook-ups as gas, electricity, cable and satellite television, telephone, security system and Internet access, among others. The service was available only in several Ohio areas, Detroit and Chicago.

The business model depended on real estate brokers and agents signing up to refer new homeowners to JumpHome for their hookups and connections. Brokers who'd utilized the service today said they liked the concept, but they weren't all that concerned about the company's closure.

"We found the service excellent for those who used it. I'm sorry to hear it's gone. It was a good program," said Susan Neff, VP of sales and marketing for The Epcon Group. The Columbus, Ohio-based real estate development company had been referring home buyers to JumpHome for about a year.

Bob Ziegler, broker/owner of Century 21 Brookshire in Ann Arbor, Mich., said his office signed up as a JumpHome affiliate, but he never referred anyone to the service because he believed homeowners wouldn't jump at disclosing their personal data over the Web.

"People just don't give out their information over the Internet," he said.

JumpHome's business model also depended on earning marketing fees from local utility cos. and other hook-up, connect-up and sign-up services for homeowners. But the model was untested and presumably not well-received in that marketplace, given the narrow service area two years after its introduction.

Part of the problem may have been that some utility companies and particularly those in small municipalities don't have electronic processing capabitilities, didn't want to pay marketing fees for a new concept or simply shied away from doing business with an Internet startup company. And two former employees said the company had trouble completing some of the requested hookups.

JumpHome was founded in February 2000, and a year later announced 5,000 hookups and connections in January 2001 for a record 1,108 customers that month. The company in July announced plans to expand nationally. But that scheme now appears to be kaput. The company hasn't issued a statement about its difficulties and no one was available today to comment.

The closure of JumpHome follows hard on last week's announcement by Shelton, Conn.-based Home-Link that it is reorganizing under the protection of a chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. Home-Link also has a business model that relies on brokers' and agents' referrals of new homeowners for home-related products and services.

Copyright: Inman News Service

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