Energy Scammed & Robbed?
Before I tell this tale, I want to say up front that I will not be naming the company that I believe tried to scam my wife and I, as well as some other things. The reason I’m not naming the company is because overall we can’t prove certain things. Otherwise, this is a true tale and something that not only central New Yorkers need to watch out for, but people everywhere should be wary of.
A couple of months ago we were approved for a free in-home inspection based on a review by an organization calling itself NYSERDA. It’s a great program offering the opportunity to have an energy assessment to see if there are ways to help you save money on your heating bills, electricity bills, gas bills, whatever you use that expends energy.
When you qualify, they give you a link to a page where you see a list of contractors they have hooked up with that will do the free assessments for you. The first two I called and left messages with never called me back; I tried to get someone who was located close to where I live, Liverpool, but I guess they just didn’t care. The third company I called is a name I was familiar with, and even though they were further away I gave them a call and they said they would have a representative come to the house to do the assessment.
On that day the gentleman arrives, and then spends about an hour and a half going through the house looking at things, running one of those processes where they see what percentage of leakage your house might have, and then writing a proposal. When we sat down to talk about things, there were three items that I found interesting, and not necessarily in a positive way.
The first is that after he ran this process to see what kind of leakage I had in the house, his figure showed that I was losing about 125% whenever we turned on the heat or air conditioning. Whereas I will admit that even after we had ZeroDraft come in years ago to do pretty much the same thing that the house has remained fairly cold in the winter, because they were here and had done some insulation work, as well as run the same process that this company ran, that sounded a bit suspect.
The second thing that was suspect was how much we were quoted to have insulation blown into the house. As I said, we already have insulation up there that was done by ZeroDraft, and we’ve had a couple other people who put some insulation up there, so being quoted a price of $6,100 seemed a bit extreme. Of course my thing has always been that I didn’t feel like there was enough insulation blown into the house to begin with, but that price just didn’t sit well with me.
The third thing was something that came out of left field. He said that we had three minor gas leaks in the basement, that they were nothing to really worry about, and that he would send somebody over the next week to fix them for us. At this point the Spidey senses tingled, but not enough to get me to act on anything. I did mention it to my wife, and since she didn’t have much of a reaction I didn’t think much about it at the time.
The following week someone did show up from the company. I asked the guy how long it would take to fix the leaks and he said 45 minutes to an hour. I told him to go about his business and that I would be back in my office if he needed me and left him alone. During the time he was doing whatever he was doing, I kept hearing the back door opening and closing. I have an alarm system, so every time one of four of my doors is opened I hear an alarm. I just figured he was going out to his truck to get supplies to bring into the house, so I never went to check on anything. After about 45 minutes he called my name, and when I went out to meet him he told me that he needed to replace a pipe, but that he hadn’t brought the size he needed to replace it with and he would have to come back the next week. Once again, not thinking much about it I said okay and saw him on his way.
On Friday I happened to be out of town when I got a call early in the morning from my wife. She told me that she had gone into the basement and realized something seemed to be amiss, and eventually she realized that all of our paint and paint supplies were gone. A few weeks earlier, she had decided to put all the paint and supplies in one place, as they were scattered between the basement and garage, because she had some projects coming up that she wanted to work on, so she knew that those items were there. She asked me who had been in the basement in the last couple of weeks, and I told her the only people who had been in the basement were the two representatives from this company. I told her about the noise I kept hearing from the second visitor, and we both felt that it almost had to be him.
I told my wife to look in the package that held the proposal and call the company and ask for someone who I personally knew worked there to complain about the issue. My wife called, found out that person no longer worked there, and ended up talking to the first guy that came to the house about the missing supplies. He said he would investigate, which we both knew meant he would call the guy and asked him if he took anything, the guy would say no, and that would be as far as it went.
And that’s exactly what happened, so my wife told him that she did not want that guy coming back to the house at all. The guy she talked to said that he would call me on Monday to discuss things because supposedly when the second guy was here he found two more gas leaks that he conveniently forgot to tell me about when he had been at the house on Tuesday.
Monday morning, I decided to do what I should’ve done in the first place; I called National Grid. It seems that they consider any word about a gas leak, even a minor one, as an emergency. So one of their representatives was at the house within 20 minutes of my call and was down in the basement looking for gas leaks. Low and behold, he couldn’t find any gas leaks. He ran all sorts of tests, even going to the extreme of turning off the gas to see if the meter still moved, which is one way they can detect if there is a gas leak somewhere in the house. Nothing happened as you can imagine. I then called this company and reached the representative and I had him talk to the guy from National Grid, and even though I could only hear one side of the conversation, it seemed like the guy on the phone was trying to convince the guy in my house that there were leaks in specific places; the National Grid guy wasn’t buying it.
Once the National Grid guy left, I called this guy back. I told him there were no gas leaks, and that I didn’t want anyone else coming to the house to look at anything. We saw where they had put some blue stuff on some pipes, but the National Grid guy said that he couldn’t prove whether or not there had ever been any leaks coming through those pipes. However, he did say that since two of them were close together that even if they were minor leaks I should have been able to smell something at the time when they were first pointed out to me; I never smelled a thing, and my wife had never smelled anything either.
By now you see the issues. We can’t prove we were robbed because we didn’t see anything. We can’t prove we ever had gas leaks, but we can definitely prove that there were no remaining gas leaks even though this guy said there were. Without having someone else come into the house we can’t believe that 125% energy loss figure. Also without having someone come to the house we can’t necessarily prove that $6,100 is too much money for what he said they were going to do.
Still, there’s enough there to put us on edge and make us not trust them, and we get out of this without spending any new money, with an approximate figure of maybe a theft of $150 worth of paint and supplies, a figure I came up with after my wife and I went to buy replacements for what was taken. Of course the major lesson here is that if you have someone in your house that you can’t leave them alone for that period of time because you never know what they’re doing. And I applaud National Grid and the work their rep did in helping us expose what looks like an attempted scam.
As I said, I’m not going to name the company because I can’t prove anything except one item, but if you know me send me an email or direct message on Twitter and I’ll tell you who they are. Smarm!