If it seems like a scam...

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It was a stifling hot, humid early afternoon. The bell rang at my side door. I saw no car about. Cat was already underfoot, alert to hurl himself through the opening the moment it became ajar. All this to say, by the time I managed to unlock the door, I was what one would call clearly cranky. “Are you the lady of the house?” Not a stellar introduction. I hate it when I am asked this by salespeople on the telephone. And here he was in person contacting the neighbourhood—clipboard in hand, looking cool in his white, cotton-knit sports shirt with embroidered logo and identification name tag around his neck—young, probably in his twenties. “What do you want?” I was anything but civil.

He recognized my rudeness and seemed surprised, if not hurt, but carried on. He babbled a bunch of words I couldn’t really connect together as comprehensible. I know he used terms like ‘the province’ and ‘green’ and ‘energy saving’ and ‘emissions’; these are what we have come to consider as ‘friendly’ terms. At the end of it all, however, I had no idea what he was trying to tell me.

The sun was blazing. I could no longer tolerate the heat. “Come in!” “Are you sure?” he asked in utter bewilderment. “Yes. Why not?” He looked harmless enough in his seeming naivete. “Just sit here.” I offered a chair at the kitchen table. “I still don’t understand who you represent or what you are talking about.” “Let me give you more information. I need to see your gas bill so I can show you how emissions are being handled.”

That seemed odd. He was sort of implicating himself to my gas company almost the way he had sort of implicated himself to the provincial government. Was he representing a ‘green’ activist program? Perhaps locating the bill would enlighten the situation. Once he saw it, he babbled some more double talk that the term ‘emissions’ should be identified up front on the bill, but wasn’t. Then he said, I was really lucky today as he could register me free of charge and proceeded to pull out a detailed form.

I asked whether he had a brochure. Maybe that would help me understand what it was he was getting at, because quite frankly, I still had no notion. The glossy one-pager he reluctantly handed over looked attractive but was useless. As he continued to babble, I picked up the telephone and called my gas company explaining the state of affairs and my feeling of absolute incompetence. “He’s right there in your kitchen!?” the woman at the other end asked protectively. “What he wants is for you to sign a contract for gas delivery from his company.”

Daaah! At long last, something that made sense. “Thank you. Goodbye!” He thought I continued to be on the telephone, but in fact, I was talking to him. He was visibly confused. “You heard me. Off you go!” I held open the door. “Have a nice day!” He left as perplexed as he had led me to be.

With a magnifying glass, I read the tiny print on the back bottom of the brochure and found the phrase ‘energy retailer’ tucked into the text. Be kind to yourself. If it seems like it could be a scam, don’t invite it in.

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