There I was, minding my own business in a quiet English suburb when the house I was visiting had a knock on the door. I heard a voice with a West African flavour introduce himself.
“Hello, I’m Lewis. I’m here to help you with your cavity wall insulation grant.”
The ears pricked immediately. Surely door-to-door scam central? The invitation was politely declined, only to hear the next hopeful hook line;
You’ve got a grant then?
A rapid surf revealed this to be the opener for the distasteful scenario that can unfold, according to, among many sources, this BBC Watchdog feature,
The actual scam can vary, but often a bogus trader will claim to be part of an energy-saving scheme offering discounted rates, they may state that the home-owner can claim back the cost of the work under an energy conservation scheme, or they sometimes over exaggerate the potential reduction in heating bills.
Across these situations high prices will be charged for shoddy or non-existent work.
Would you believe it, upon my departure some time later, I overheard a Scottish voice from next door’s porch. Clearly just having the door slammed in his face, his retort was;
Okay then, I’ll just give one of your neighbours your share of the grant then, bye!
Reminiscent of the old timeshare strong arm? I also couldn’t help thinking how much easier it would have been to be honest.
If legit, the problem they’re keen to help resolve seems to have something to do with reduced heating bills. So why not lead on that? It would surely generate more conversations, with way greater meaning, to angle towards seeing if energy bills could have quite a bit shaved off them? Then the chat could find itself fairly quickly on options to help. And cavity wall gaps would naturally emerge.
The old scams might still work, but no more often than the Nigerian prince wishing to unlock squillions, if only you could pass on $100 first.
A discussion built around mythical grants preys on the weak, and paradoxically the most needy. Everyone concerned should be ashamed of themselves. Here’s hoping they fail.