P.T. Barnum is credited with this great phrase and today I was granted a meeting with someone who thought I was that sucker.
My story starts with solar panels.
Or, more specifically, a solar panel salesman.
Here’s what happened. I was at Shaws supermarket doing my shopping when an older gentleman standing near a folding table with papers and a tablet on top, smiled and being the putz that I am, I smiled back. Really? Am I that dense?
Anyway, Mr. Smiley asks if I’d like to save over 50% on my electric bill. Who wouldn’t want to save money, right? So, I replied, “Are you selling solar? I’ve been looking into having it installed on my house.”
Mr. Smiley: “Well, this is your lucky day. I can get solar panels on your home for free.” (Truly, I should have run down the coffee and tea aisle, but, alas, I didn’t.
Me: “How so?”
Mr. Smiley: “The Government has a program where the panels are free, absolutely free. You’ll get solar in your home for free.”
Me: “Impossible. Nothing’s free.” Ah, the cynic in me is always nearby to interject her opinion.
Mr. Smiley: “In this case it’s true. Let me show you…..”
Mr. Smiley pulled out a laptop and plugged in my home address, which, yes, I told him, and soon I was looking down at my little corner of the Concord River. “You got a lot of trees around your house,” Mr. Smiley says as he shakes his head. “We’ll have to cut some of them down.”
Me: “Excuse me!”
Mr. Smiley: “You need to have at least 4 hours of sunlight on the panels and you won’t get that. Lucky for you, I own a tree cutting service.”
Me: “Of course you do. Look, I have to go, thank–” (Mr. Smiley interrupted me and jumped into his spiel.)
Mr. Smiley: “Let me go over the numbers with you. Now, the electricity you generate will go into the grid and you’ll receive credits which you can apply toward your electric bill. That should save you about $20 a month. That savings and the low monthly fee–” (I interrup him since he interrupted me.)
Me: “Whoa. You said this was all free! Remember, no cost to me?”
Mr. Smiley: “That’s right. Let me finish. We install the panels for free and the government is absorbing the cost of the panels.”
Me: “Sooooo, what is the monthly charge for?”
Mr. Smiley: “For the panels.”
Me: “But you said they’re free. That the government is paying for them.”
Mr. Smiley: “That’s right. They are free. No cost thanks to a Federal program–”
Me: “Then, what’s the monthly fee for?”
Mr. Not-So-Smiley-Now: “The panels.”
Me: ” You originally said you could get me into solar for free.”
Mr. Not-So-Smiley-Now: “That’s true. The installation is free. No cost to you.”
Me: “Yes, but the panels aren’t free, correct?”
Mr. Not-So-Smiley-Now: “Oh no, the Federal government is covering the cost and the panels are, one-hundred percent, free.”
At this point I expected to see the ghosts of Abbott and Costello to walk by pushing their own shopping carts.
Me: “I get it. (I’m not that dense, give me some credit.) “Your company is getting the panels for free but you’re going to charge me.”
Mr. Not-So-Smiley-Now: “Yes, but it’s a very low monthly leasing fee that is guaranteed not to go up more than 3% each year.”
Me: “How many years is the lease?”
Mr. Not-So-Smiley-Now: “25.”
Me: “Nice con. I’m impressed. Have a nice day.”
I turned away and pushed my carriage about an inch when Mr. Not-So-Smiley-Now said, “You just don’t understand finances.”
WTF!!!!!! He dissed me! Here I am, minding my own business, I gave him time that I’ll never get back, and he’s dissing me.
I faced him and said, “Excuse me? What did you just say?”
Mr. Not-So-Smiley-Now: “I said you don’t understand the finances of what I’ve been saying. Most women–”
Me: (interrupting again) “Oh, I understand.” (Cue increase in voice volume.) “You talk up a good game about free, oh it’s free, (Interject some arm waving.) but in truth you’re just a shyster (My father used to use that word and I never have. Here you go, Dad!) and I’m willing to bet most of the people who have signed up for your little scam are men. Most women can see a snake-oil salesman from a mile away.”
I walked away, fuming. Asshole! (Him, not me.)
When I got home I did a little research and found some articles on the so-called free government program. Yup. It’s a scam. Solar panel salesmen misleading homeowners.
Oh, and I forgot ice cream!
Blessed be :}