Former Director receives suspended prison sentence and 100 hours Community Payback for company’s misleading sales pitches
The former Director of an Essex-based energy installation company has been successfully prosecuted by Suffolk Trading Standards.
Ms Kerri Freeman (26 from Witham, Essex), the sole of Director of GreenHomesUK Ltd, was sentenced for failing to carry out her responsibilities as a director to her business which misled consumers and sold them equipment which they did not need. GreenHomesUK Ltd is no longer trading having been struck off by Companies House.
Ms Freeman pleaded guilty to nine counts under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. As a result of this prosecution, Ms Freeman received a six-month suspended prison sentence, was ordered to undertake 100 hours of unpaid community service and must pay a total of £6,500 in compensation to witnesses in the case. She has also been disqualified from being a Director for five years.
Suffolk Trading Standards investigated GreenHomesUK Ltd following complaints made to the national Citizens Advice consumer helpline. Consumers initially received unsolicited telephone calls offering a free maintenance check for their solar panel system. These cold calls were followed by sales pitches which contained false information, such as solar panel systems being dangerous and could catch fire at any time.
Also prosecuted as a result of this case was Shane Correia, who worked for GreenHomesUK Ltd. Mr Correia was convicted of fraud by false representation in September 2018 whilst working as a salesperson for Energie Direct Ltd, a company which sold energy related products.
At that time, offences from his time working as a salesperson for GreenHomesUK Ltd were also taken into consideration. This resulted in an immediate custodial sentence of 46 weeks being passed down in the September court hearing.
Mary Strang, Principal Trading Standards Officer, said:
“Consumers were given a lot of incorrect details, making them feel they needed to make purchases, which were actually unnecessary.
“Some were told that their solar panel system was required to have new inverter units or fire protection products installed, which is untrue. Others were told that this equipment would increase the efficiency of the energy system by 40%, which is also untrue. The company also sold care and warranty packages at inflated prices.”
Councillor Richard Rout, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for Environment and Public Protection, said:
“Suffolk Trading Standards is grateful to the consumers who made the calls to the national Citizens Advice consumer helpline which made us aware of GreenHomesUK Ltd’s practices. They have potentially saved many others from losing out financially.
“GreenHomesUK Ltd, their former Director and salesman put themselves first and were only concerned in making a profit. They showed a complete disregard for the vulnerability of their victims and the financial and emotional distress they caused.”
Consumers are advised not to agree to home visits following a telephone call from an unknown salesperson. It can be difficult to find a tradesman to carry out home improvements, however Check-a-Trade have a selection of Suffolk Trading Standards approved traders, these can be found on their website: www.checkatrade.com/suffolk.
If you need advice or wish to report an individual or company to Trading Standards, you can do so by calling the national Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.