Our smart meter campaign The smart meter challenge
In July 2011 Which? urged all the energy companies to accept our smart challenge – to just install smart meters without selling extra products and services.
In April 2012 the government announced that it would ban all sales during smart meter installations, meaning consumers would not have to listen to unwanted sales pitches as part of the smart meter roll-out.
No selling, just installing
In June 2011 we found job adverts showing that some energy companies were keen for smart meter installation staff to sell you products and services when they came to fit your new meter.
We were also concerned to see that some installers may have wages topped-up with commission for sales.
We didn't think any customer should be forced to listen to a sales pitch that they hadn't expected or agreed to. Which? was also concerned that this would encourage pressure-selling and open the floodgates to mis-selling, a problem that we have encountered in the energy industry a number of times before.
We challenged companies to sign up to our 'no selling, just installing' promise - that they would not try to sell you extra products when they came to fit your smart meter.
Who accepted the smart challenge?
A number of companies signed up to the challenge, agreeing that their priority would be to install a smart meter quickly and safely, without trying to sell customers extra products or services.
Ten companies signed up in total: Npower, Co-operative Energy, First Utility, The Utility Warehouse, Ovo Energy, Good Energy, Ecotrivity, Spark, Opus Energy and Green Energy UK.
You can find out more about individual companies on Which? Switch.
Government bans smart sales
On 5 April 2012 the government made the welcome announcement that it would ban all sales during the smart meter installation.
This means that even those companies who did not sign up to the smart challenge will be banned from giving the hard sell when they go to install new smart meters. The government is also asking suppliers to discuss energy efficiency with customers during installations.
Smart meter installation and your rights
If you are having a smart meter installed, your energy company might ask you if you're happy for your installer to leave some marketing material in your home.
However, the installer is not allowed to market to you unless you have given your express permission, and they will also not be able to sell you any products during the installation.
This means that they can give you information, but must then leave you to make the decision rather than being pressured by the person in your home.
This is a great first step in tackling the issue of consumer protection during the smart meter roll-out. Now we're calling for the government to stop and review the roll-out to make sure that the cost of the programme (paid for by energy customers) is kept as low as possible.