The Gas-Tecnico Sting

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Recently a young man called at my house. He had a metal equipment box, a folder of papers and an i.d. card, saying he was from a gas equipment maintenance company.
He said that householders are obliged by law – he waved the paperwork – to have gas equipment checked and replaced every five years.

The man of the house was shortly going out to collect our daughter from nursery, and told him so. But down I came saying I had twenty minutes before I had to go out – and got an aggravated glare from my man and a smug smile from the door-stepper.I showed him our gas appliances, just to see what he would say and he told me that the pipe on one, and the pipe and head on another needed replacing. But not to worry, he could do them right away and they would only cost €90 (plus IVA).

Now, quite apart from the outrageous price, I don't want any Tom, Dick or Pepe messing with my gas appliances. So I told him no, I'd check it out and speak to the Repsol people: if they said it was legit I'd get them replaced in my own time.
Mr Gas-Technician was not happy. Repsol, he said, had nothing to do with it: they only supply gas, not equipment. I could call this number to check. I pointed out that I know the Repsol people, who live here, not the people on some telephone number. He insisted that up-to-date equipment is obligatory. “It might be,” I said, “but I'm sure using your company isn't. And if it's legit you can come back later – make an appointment”. No, they were only in the village this morning, he told me. “Oh, what a shame,” I said, “We don't have €90 in the house right now.” Mr Gas-Technician promptly picked up his tool bag and left.

Fortunately my delaying tactics meant my man did have to get going, so I only got a five minute rant: why the hell did I let him in? And ask him the price! For God's sake, as if a real inspector would come with no notice, refuse to come back, get stroppy about being checked out! As it happened our Repsol was round in the afternoon. I asked and he knew all about it. “Lies!” he declared, “A pack of lies! You didn't pay them, did you?” I reassured him I had not; adding that my husband was cross that I even spoke to him. “Your husband” he told me, “Is absolutely right. These people should be shot!” He mimed the use of a shotgun, looked at the imaginary corpse with a smile, and moto'd away.

Most people, if they think for a minute, will see through this one. But if you are rushed, nervous of Spanish law or naïve you may be stung and then the money will be long gone when you find out. If they do call at your door, it isn't gas you can smell; it is a rat – a particularly large one, with a metal tool box, a folder of papers and an i.d. card. Save yourself some time and close the door!

Rose Jones

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