Four years ago, just before Christmas our boiler broke down, it was a very stressful time. My cousin asked me to come over as she had some items to give me and in the course of the conversation, I mentioned, “My boiler has broken down,” It was then my cousin Kym told me about The Green Deal, I’d vaguely heard about it, think it was to do with the Government giving people free solar panels to encourage home improvement but I didn’t know boilers were included, so I said to Kym, “I thought The Green Deal was to do with solar panels only,” She replied, “They include boilers too.” I said, “That’s fantastic, as I’m skint, I can’t afford either.” She said, “It’s completely free, it’s something the Government is doing, here is Ian Sedgwick’s card, ring him he is a good man, he also did my neighbour’s house.”
I rang him but he was closed for Christmas and New Year. So, it was a cold house, with a tiny radiator upstairs on the landing and pans of water on the cooker steaming up the house for two inches of baths, a lot of work for a bath, but you couldn’t even call it a bath it was almost what my Husband’s Mum would call it, “A cat lick and a promise!” But it was better than nothing. It did make me unwell and I went to the doctors, he said, “This is what has made you ill.” It was awful when the steam filled the three rooms, the lounge kitchen and bathroom, and the walls would be damp and opening the windows to let the steam out and trying to keep the rooms warm, at the same time. The oven was on a lot, on low with jacket potatoes cooking slowly all day or a roast meat. It was difficult to dry clothes the little mobile radiator was a Godsend as in emergencies I’d put an item of clothing onto it, covering it completely and it did the job! It was a daily task of surviving. But we take SO much for granted! We sometimes think life is hard, then when the boiler brakes down in Winter, when no money is left for it’s all gone, spent on gifts. But around the World there are people with nothing, no boiler, no money, no home, no family, no car, but at the time I didn’t think like that, those thoughts came weeks later, for I was in the here and now. I rang Ian and he said, “An Assessor had to visit first before any work started and it would cost (A whopping) £150.” I told Kym, “I don’t have £150,” She said, “I will lend you the money you can pay me back in July,” I said, “Thank you SO much.” Tony came while I was at work, he looked around and our home and it was deemed fit for the solar panels to be fitted.
There was three of them, Ian the Manager, Matt the young electrician and Jo the boiler man. Ian was a pleasant, quiet man, Matt had beautiful blond hair, and Jo he was an older gentleman, during the course of their time with them in our home, I found out they were all experienced in their field of work. They were professional but friendly, we got to know a bit about them and they got to know us too.
It didn’t matter how many times Ian tried to explain to me about how solar panels work and the money we would get back from it, I just didn’t understand it, nor did Paul. Even when he showed us charts to show each year our bills, would be less and less, that was great news indeed! More than I could have imagine and expected. Ian told us that, “You’ve been given £7,000 off your bill by the Government.” That was fantastic! Ian asked me to, “Go on Facebook and ‘like’ the page and tell as many people as you can.” After the solar panels were fitted and switched on, Ian said, “They are positioned perfectly, you will have 100% of the sun all of the time, for some people don’t get the sun all of the time, depending on where the sun is at the time of day.” I was very happy. I did tell a few people, about the “Free solar panels,” And I gave them Ian’s contact number.
It was great to have heating and hot water!!! A deep bath, dry the clothes, even Megan said, “We don’t realize how lucky we are, until it’s gone, hot water and heating, yet some in this country still don’t have it,” I smiled, I was glad she was now old enough to appreciate it, I looked at her and nodded and gave her a weak smile.
The work was soon completed, and then there was lots of paper work for Paul and myself to sign, pages and pages and pages of them. If I had to take a guess, I’d say I had to sign my name about ten times and Paul too. He wanted us to read it, but if I did, I’d still be reading it now…..
It was wonderful reading our new meter, Green Deal to the Green Deal People and then about ten days after the date they had set for us to read the meter, we’d get a cheque back for the extra, or excess, that the sun had produced for us, we’d get it back in a cheque! In the Summer we’d get back about £150 and in the Winter, we’d get back about £35 it was like money for nothing. It was perfect, a win, win situation. Even our lovely neighbours wanted information of how they too could have, solar panels as we were the only one on our street with them! It made us look rich, which we were not. The solar panels, filled every space of our roof. Ian had said, “If you have any questions just phone me.” One year or so later I did have a question and rang Ian and he said, “I no longer do the Green Deal the business has closed down.” But there was no one else to phone so I rang him again, and he told me politely, “I am no longer doing the Green Deal, so please don’t phone me, I am doing a completely different job.” I didn’t think that could happen, I expected him to always be there and now soon after he wasn’t. I rang lovely Jo, but he said, “I’ve retired…..” My heart missed lots of beats and butterflies formed in my tummy. l became worried.
One day, a letter arrived, I couldn’t believe what I was reading! It was a statement and it said, “By law we have to send you this,” It was showing how much each month was taken out of our account to pay for the solar panels and that it would take us twenty-one years to pay for it, that it cost £13,000! Oh, my goodness!!! We’d been had! I didn’t want to leave my kids with debt, but where were we going to get thirteen grand from? I was SO hurt. I was devastated! So instead of been better off, we weren’t! And to think I’d told people about it! I wished I could turn the clock back and not have had it! But how was I to know, it was NOT mentioned! For if he’d said plainly at the start, “This is going to cost you £13,000,” I’d have told him, “Goodbye, we can’t afford it.”
How can Ian sleep at night? I’m sure my cousin doesn’t know this, I will tell her, this year. Last week I rang the Green Deal People who we give our three-monthly meter readings to and I told her, “Our bill is now SO high each month and this is for twenty years?” I went on and told her, “I’m not happy!” She gave me a number to phone, I rang the number and spoke to Michelle, I told her about my “Ripped off, fake Green Deal,” She was lovely and said, “You can make a complaint and say you were mis sold” I thought, that’s understatement! I DO intend to make a complaint, for why on earth would I take out solar panels for thirteen grand?