Beware energy saving offers that demand upfront fees, but don’t be put off the Green Deal, says Trading Standards
Problems with one particular company have highlighted the dangers of upfront fees. Sales representatives calling from Green Deal Rewards Ltd, based in Airdrie, carried out unsolicited marketing telephone calls to unsuspecting Highland householders. Sales staff from the company claimed that householders were entitled to funding for “free government home improvements” under the government’s ‘Green Deal’ scheme. A number of Highland consumers agreed to pay out a fee of £149.99 in advance, in order to obtain a survey on their home and an “Energy Performance Certificate” (or EPC).
The North householders were then promised that an appointment would be made to carry out a ‘survey’. However, Trading Standards officers have since discovered that some consumers never received a visit from the company and other consumers, where a ‘survey’ had been carried on their home, are still waiting for their ‘EPC’.
Actions by Trading Standards were successful in getting several Highland consumers a refund from the company, but with the company involved now having ceased trading, further refunds via this route are extremely unlikely.
Trading Standards Manager Gordon Robb said: “Anyone who has paid money to Green Deal Rewards Ltd, but not received in full the service paid for is entitled to a refund as the company are in breach of contract. However, as the company has now ceased to trade we would like to advise all consumers who have paid for a survey to contact their card company in order to claim a refund. If they used a credit card, they should be legally entitled to a refund under credit legislation. If they used a debit card, we would advise them to put a claim in to the bank for a ‘chargeback’, which is a voluntary scheme run by the banks.”
Mr Robb was, however, also quick to stress that consumers should not be put off applying for government funding available under the ‘Green Deal’ scheme.
He said: “It will be very unfortunate if the reputation of the government’s Green Deal initiatives are adversely affected by the activities of this company. Yes, householders should always be on their guard when they receive any unsolicited phone calls or unsolicited doorstep callers to their home offering to goods or services, but at the same time, I would encourage householders who want to save money on their household fuel bills and who receive such unsolicited contacts, without committing themselves to anything, to ask for information to be sent to them and to make further enquiries. Advice on the ‘Green Deal’ Plan and other government funding can be obtained from Home Energy Scotland by accessing the Scottish Grants and Discounts database at www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/scotland/Take-action/Find-a-grant or by contacting a Home Energy Scotland advisor free on 0808 808 2282.”
Highland residents who require further advice or assistance in relation to Green Deal Rewards Ltd can contact Trading Standards either in writing or in person at:
The Highland Council Trading Standards
38 Harbour Road
Or contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08456 04 05 06.