Be aware of the new LED light-door knocking scam! Answered
It might just be a local thing for now here in AU but history shows a good scam often is picked up globally...
The topic of the scam is a FREE upgrade of your old incandescent lights to modern and cost efficient LED lights.
Down here we have these government sponsored and energy related initiatives for home owners and landlords on a more or less regular base.
Sometimes it is solar cells, then solar hot water systems or better insulation, now we again have LED lights as last time not everyone took the offer.
The offical way to benefit is to apply for it, usually a quick online process.
After that a certified guy or girl makes an appointment and replaces the number of lights you specified.
But to address more people and get around landlords door knockers are also used.
These offcial guys provide you with some flyers highlighting the program, details about the process and so on.
And if you are interested sign you up on a list for your replacement.
It means you don't sign anything, you just confirm your ID and end on a list.
A a week or two later you see a bunch of students running with little ladders and boxes of lightbulbs knocking on doors.
So far so good and sometimes you even get older people replacing the bulbs for free.
You can quite easy identify the official guys down here as the display ID tags with picture and those tags not just look professional but also contain all vital info and signs that correspond to the official government initiative.
The scammers jumping on the money train however show a slightly different approach.
Usually students with good language and promotional skills come in a nice dress and knock on your door.
They come with a more less well made copy of the government flyer, usually not in the right format and not on nice, glossy paper.
They also usually only show you a badge after you ask then to but won't follow the official code and have it displayed on the dress.
Said badge, in my case, was of bad quality and was just an ink jet print laminated in bulk and cut straight, not even with the standard rounded edges...
I played along anyway and showed interest, so I was asked if it is ok to have a quick look to check how many lights are required.
Keep in mind here that the official guys won't need that info - they take this info by the actual amount of lights the students replace later on!
I told the guy I only need 6 lights as the rest was already replaced by myself.
Needless to say he insisted stating that he needs to confrim the amount as a requirement for the free replacment because the installer needs to know how many light are required...
You would expect now to see someone walking through your house with the head tilted to the ceiling....
2 minutes, maybe three...
It took almost 10 minutes, for each light he filled a bit out on his form.
Like lvining room, 3 lights, ladder required, toilet, one light, cover needs to be removed.....
This time was used to get an impression of what is visibly available in the rooms...
Once done the nice guy wanted me to sign his now filled out form and asked for my name so he can put it in the form.
Don't know why I felt this urgent need but I asked nicely if I could actually have a quick read of the form before I sign.
Reluctantly he agreed and handed my the form.
What I spotted right away was that it was two pages that were not connected in any way, like with a stapler, not numbered either.
The first page had all the details of my lights and requirements plus some not really clear looking government inignias.
Like what you would end up with if you embed in a word document from a web page.
Low quality instead of coming from a proper and official print shop.
Page two then only needed my name, address and signature under the long list of fineprints.
I did not even have to read it all to know it indeed is a bdly made scam.
The FREE LED lights are still free, but each one comes with an installation fee of $35.
This fee covers checking the fittings and light switches and if required their replacement at the costs of the occupant plus of course the disposal of the old lights.
The offcial cooling off period for this type of contract is honored though.
Well, that is until you read it all and double check the first page.
14 days are granted for this officially and in the contract I was supposed to sign.
With the exception that I automatically agree to have the replacement done at the convinience of the installer.
Also added was a clause that states the contract is binding and the payment is required within 7 days once the lights are replaced.
Page 1 though already had next Friday listed for the replacements of my lights....
Means my cooling off period is reduced to 7 days....
To cancel the contract I would have to send it in writing and with confirmation.
And the arrival needs to be confirmed at least 48 hours prior to the installation date so the installer can shedule accordingly.
Basically means I have to send this cancellation letter the same day I sign the contract to have any chance at all to avoid paying at least $35 per LED light.
Needless to say I refused to provide my name and did not sign despite all well meant attempts to convince me otherwise.
And although I can neither deny nor confirm to have made a specific phone call, some cop car picked the guy up shortly after when he was knocking on another door further down the street...
Be aware if some really nice guy or girl offers you a FREE service after you opened your door!
Be suspicious if they "require" entry to confirm or check certain things!
It is quite possible this requirement is only to check for valuables!
Do the smart thing and take what they offer in paperwork and ask them to come back a few days later so you can have a good read.
Don't let them pressure you in any way!!!
If it is a free service then you don't need to rush things and any official door knocker will be happy to give you the parperwork and tell you if you want to have it done you can simple use the details on the info material and register yourself online.
And if you go that route you will see an official government portal for it.
Even if a scammer goes as far as creating a website for the scam it won't provide you any of the standards you expect from your government.
If you really decide to sign something on the spot or to provide personal details then at least read all the fineprints and everything else on all the documents!
That means unless you know legal talk that you should have someone check it for you!