Since we installed a new shed we have been interested in solar panels.They would fit on the roof and be barely visible. There are adverts everywhere, but I feel ill-informed and so an ad in Mole Valley Farmers magazine offering a free pass to an energy information day catches my eye. I ring for a place.It contrasts with an invitation to the AGM of the CLA which thanks a couple of members for opening up their country pile and extending a welcome to other members for the day and then announces a £30 ticket charge! I don’t expect a free lunch but that sits a bit uncomfortably.

We have a cash account with Mole V F and it confers a 2% discount so I book my free seat with one eye on the calculator. £200 FOR 10,000 SPENT.. I have to cancel at short notice and rebook for the next event but they ring me back and give me a seminar on the phone.I am impressed and interested enough for them to take details of my supplier and meter serial numbers. I know the one but not the others -if you are ever in this dilemma they are not the numbers engraved on the meter(!!) but a different PAN number which appears on the bill.Anyway we get there and I am promised a phone back from a member of the “team”. He starts off by asking my supplier and my meter serial numbers.I ask if he actually works for Mole Valley Farmers and tease out the fact that his independent company has been passed on my details by MVF. When he says details it turns out to be my phone number!.So I refer him back to them and we try again 30 minutes later. He quickly decides to come clean and tells me it’s his first day at work; it gets better from then and I let him cut his teeth on my project. Eventually I sign up but – you guessed – the contract is not with Mole Valley Farmers. So no discount. I shall ask what commission they have taken for passing on my name.Whatever the amount it proves what we all know from our elders- there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Nonetheless,the scaffolders don’t work for MVF or the Solar Panel company and the safety netters don’t work for the scaffolders MVF or the Solar Panel company. So if somebody falls through the roof I can yet expect an invitation to a free fact- finding lunch at the solicitors.

The panels are to be installed tomorrow. 4 days later there is an eclipse of the sun!

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