I'm ringing on behalf of the government says rogue Green Deal company
Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 April 2013 at 9:44 am
MPs receive more letters and emails about unwanted phone calls than anything else, culture minister Ed Vaizey told Parliament last week. Well Ed and my MP are about to get another one about the dodgy callers that pretend they are calling with the government's blessing.
Last week I had a call from Becoming Green. They are a multiple offender. Despite my membership of the telephone preference service, they ring me regularly. In the past, the calls have been about solar panels, and thermodynamic panels. This time it was about the Green Deal, and was even more worrying than usual.
"I'm ringing from the Green Deal, on behalf of the government" said the caller. Normally I say a swift good bye to cold callers, but this one rang enough alarm bells for me to carry on talking and find out what they had to offer. While the Green Deal framework was set out by government, I know that it is being delivered by the private sector, so I probed a bit about what he meant by "on behalf of the government".
"We are one of a couple of companies licensed to make these calls," he said. Interesting. If you look at the Green Deal ORB website, you'll find there are 48 accredited green deal providers and 116 green deal assessor organisations. Becoming Green isn't among them. It is, however, one of 900+ accredited installer, registered just for solar PV installation.
Yet it wasn't solar panels he wanted to sell me. He wanted to explain how the green deal works.
I have already installed the easy energy efficiency measures such as cavity wall or loft insulation or a new boiler, but I am interested in internal wall insulation for rooms that are in the roof and don't have cavities. This put my salesman slightly off his stride, but he soon regained his poise and said, yes they could do that, but he'd explain how it worked using a new boiler as the example. There followed a fairly accurate, but over simplified explanation of how the green deal works. He made it sound as if it was a done deal that your bills would stay the same as they are now for three years, and then I'd have paid off the cost of the boiler, without knowing enough about my circumstances to make that assertion.
Then he wandered off into cloud cuckoo land. Explaining that he doesn't make any commission on the call if I sign up to have a green deal assessment he described the company as not for profit (not true) and said that it would be paid by the government if I went ahead (not true).
The fee for an assessment would be a rather high £299. Of this £150 would go to the assessor (about standard) and the rest would pay Becoming Green "for the management of things, contact with all our contractors". It would be "refundable by government if you're not happy with it" (really!). When I asked if the company was a Green Deal Provider, he said yes. Another lie.
My impression is that the caller would not have mentioned the name of Becoming Green, had I not specifically asked where he was ringing from. This type of call is misleading. I will complain to the Green Deal Orb, Trading Standards, my MP and Ed Vaizey. All cold calling is irritating, but the kind which builds trust by pretending to be ringing on behalf of the government is despicable. It should be banned.
Ironically as I write this I got another phone call - a recorded message saying it was ringing from the Department for Compensation at what sounded like Had-an-injury. Hmmm!
Find out how you can benefit from the Green Deal.Photo Credit: splorp via Compfight cc
How to avoid the cowboys, and get a good Green Deal assessment
This is something I'll be writing much more about in the coming months. Normally, I'd advise to ignore all cold calls, and do your own research. However, there are a number of local councils running excellent programmes in their area, and you wouldn't want to miss out on them. So, make sure you check the credentials of any cold callers thoroughly. If they say their are ringing from government - national or local - ask questions, and then check with the department concerned.
Also make sure that any company you deal with is accredited for the Green Deal in the category in which it says it is. You can check that on the Green Deal Orb website.
Alternatively, make your own search, using the link above.By Cathy Debenham
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
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