Forres businessman blasts solar panel con artists

George Goudsmit, left, with Grant Feasey, of Forres-based AES Solar.

A Moray businessman has warned solar panel owners to be on their guard against crooked doorstep traders intent on cheating them out of cash.

George Goudsmit, the managing director of AES Solar in Forres, spoke out yesterday after the local authority’s trading standards department issued a warning.

The council revealed details of a scam, whereby residents with solar panels had received cold calls about supposed improvements or repairs that could be carried out at a discount rate.

The intended victims were offered “upgrades or accessories”, along with misleading claims about pieces of equipment being “broken or faulty”.

The authority added some people had been offered a battery and informed it would “boost the performance of the system”.

Mr Goudsmit has been part of AES Solar – which is Scotland’s only solar panel manufacturer – for almost four decades.

He said it had gradually become apparent that some dishonest traders viewed owners of the panels as easy targets for their bogus schemes.

And he added: “Unfortunately, solar power is one of those industries where less honourable individuals do operate.

“We’ve been in the business for 38 years and we have always maintained an ethical, honest way of working with our customers.

“We don’t cold call or put any pressure on customers, and anyone with solar panels is welcome to contact us at any time for an honest opinion and detailed analysis.”

Mr Goudsmit explained that if the inverter parts of the panels failed, an error code should appear on their screen and that it “doesn’t take someone to knock on your door and tell you”.

Meanwhile, a second fradulent scheme has emerged, inw hich local businesses have been targeted by bogus traders trying to offload office supplies.

The council revealed the callers have been offering free ink cartridges, and then delivering them alongside an invoice for hundreds of pounds.

The council’s trading standards team has urged any firms affected by the dishonest tactics to get in touch with them on 0300 123 4561.

Anyone with concerns about being approached, either on the doorstep or by cold callers, should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service Helpline on 03454 040506.