Warning over energy efficiency sellingOFT measures to stamp out poor business practice
09 January 2013
Consumers have been warned to watch out for dodgy selling practices when buying energy efficient products and services, by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
High pressure sales techniques, poor quality installations, unclear information about paperwork and cancellation rights were poor practices revealed by the the OFT in its Energy Efficiency report, published today.
Consumers have been provided with misleading information and are vulnerable to being pressurised into buying particular products – especially as energy efficiency sales consultations often take place in consumers’ homes.
The report comes as the Green Deal is about to launch on the 28th of January. This offers a new way to pay for energy-saving home improvements. For more information about the Green Deal read our Green Deal explained guide for impartial advice on the loan-based system.
Which? and the Green Deal
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: ‘It's worrying that the OFT has found evidence of poor quality work and high pressure sales techniques just weeks away from the launch of the government's flagship energy efficiency programme, the Green Deal. Energy prices are one of consumers' top financial concerns, so it's essential that people have confidence in the industry to make their home more energy efficient.
'The Government must live up to its promise to protect the consumer from mis-selling and dodgy sales techniques under the Green Deal. The OFT's investigation into this sector must now be followed by enforcement action so that poor practice is stamped out as quickly as possible.’
As energy efficiency products can be complex and expensive the potential for mis-selling is high. Which? has highlighted this as a particular concern for the government's Green Deal.
The OFT report referred to Which? investigations into the sales practices of double glazing, cavity wall insulation and solar panel companies.
Green deal and energy efficiency
In light of these issues, the OFT has issued guidelines to raise standards across the energy efficiency sector, and to help consumers avoid becoming victims of poor practice. It is hoped that these measures will minimise the risk of bad practice undermining consumer confidence and limiting market expansion.
The OFT has written to 50 leading businesses within the sector, with guidelines on adhering to best practice and consumer protection laws, when it comes to sales techniques, contracts and installation. It is also launching an investigation to uncover the scale of the problems.
It advises customers not to be rushed to sign a contract and instead shop around; double checking all the facts; and consulting independent organisations - such as Which? and the Energy Saving Trust - for independent energy-saving advice.
Getting clued up – and energy-saving tips
Which? has many suggestions for making your home more energy efficient and reducing your energy bills as a result. These include:
- Turning your thermostat down by one degree – to cut 10% off your heating bills
- Switching energy supplier with Which? Switch – the average saving when switching is £217 per year
- Buying an energy monitor to help you keep track of your electricity use
More on this…