Which? challenges energy companies on smart meter salesNo selling, just installing

10 July 2011

Smart meter promise logo in content

We want companies to install your smart meter and leave, without trying to pressure you into buying something. 

Today Which? launched a challenge to energy companies, who will soon be installing smart meters in every home in Great Britain: don't use it as an excuse to sell.

By 2020 the government wants every home in Great Britain to have a smart meter, at a cost of £11.3 billion. Having discovered that some energy companies see the smart meter installation as a great opportunity to sell products, services and energy tariffs, Which? has stepped in to challenge them.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said:

'Smart meters have the potential to save consumers a lot of money on their energy bills but consumers are expected to foot the 11.3 billion-pound bill for the roll out. We're calling on energy companies to focus on installing them safely and efficiently, and not on lining their own pockets.'

No selling when installing smart meters

During the month of June, Which? discovered job adverts for smart meter installers where commission was part of the payment package. Installers were told they'd get an extra 16% of their pay if they hit targets, and were required to have 'an aptitude for sales.' We understand that some of their commission is related to selling. 

After recent problems with mis-selling in the energy industry, Which? wants to make sure that consumers aren't put in a vulnerable position. 

Customers say no to energy sales

According to Which? research, at least 11.5 million people have felt under pressure when approached by doorstep energy salespeople in the last 12 months. 93% of people say they would not let an energy company salesperson into their home, and 31% would not even open the door to them.

Which? is concerned that energy companies will use the smart meter roll out as an excuse to send in stealth salespeople disguised as installers, and has warned industry not to use the £11.3 billion smart meter roll out as an opportunity to make a 'quick profit.'

Rebuild public trust

So far seven companies have accepted the Which? smart meter challenge. The Utility Warehouse, Good Energy, Ecotricity, First Utility, Ovo, Spark and Co-operative Energy have all agreed not to sell during the smart meter installation. If you're with one of these companies you have their guarantee that your smart meter installer won't double up as a salesperson.  

Ovo energy, who recently came top in a Which? satisfaction survey, have signed up to the challenge, saying:

'Ovo energy fully supports a commitment to treating customers fairly. Energy companies have a long way to go to rebuild trust with the public. We should be putting customers first in the smart meter roll-out, not treating it as a sales opportunity.'

To see what the other energy companies say, and why they chose to accept the challenge, see our guide to smart meters, or join in and have your say on smart meters at Which? Conversation

Which? energy campaigns

Which? campaigns to make people's lives fairer, simpler and safer. We're currently campaigning on energy issues such as the Green Deal, confusing energy tariffs, and smart meters. To find out more about our campaigns, follow Which? Action on Twitter or facebook.