On Your Side Alert: Free Dinner Warning

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A local company calls 12 to alert the public about a free dinner offer circulating in the mail. The pitch is that you don't need money, you just show up and you'll learn about ways to cut your energy cost. We did some digging for you.

Bill Greenleaf, with Richmond Region Energy Alliance was concerned when heard about the offer. "I was just concerned that people would receive a heavy sales pitch to buy a few products that may not really solve the problem," he says.

The Better Business Bureau says the company behind the dinner, is Innovative Energy Solutions, located in Minnesota. Those dinner invites include the companies web address. Once there, you'll see a video explaining why you should attend the dinner. Despite having some consumer complaints, Innovative Energy Solutions has an "A" rating with the BBB. "My advice would be to go the seminar, listen to the pitch but before you order anything and pay anybody to install any energy improvement product in your home, ask some good questions about the product," Greenleaf explains.

Both Richmond Region Energy Alliance and the BBB say what the company doing is not illegal; essentially offering you a free dinner to pitch its company's energy saving products. But consumer experts say if you attend one of these seminars, don't feel pressured to buy anything and know what you are getting before you give up your cash.

"The products all probably work, but they may not be the most cost effective solution to your problem," Greenleaf explained.

He says when it comes to home energy savings, consumers should get an energy assessment. It will determine weak spots in your home and let you know what you need to spend money on. "Before you spend four or five thousand on a home energy improvement product, spend a little bit of money to get the energy assessment first," he says.

Richmond Region Energy Alliance, a community service non-profit offers the assessments at a discount. Consumer experts say keep in mind a free dinner may sound good -- but if you are not careful it could cost you big bucks.