YouGen, a leading consumer body serving the renewable and energy efficiency sectors, is calling for a change in the law after a review by the Office of Fair Trading revealed unscrupulous selling tactics by solar and other energy efficiency companies.
The organisation wants to see an end to doorstep selling by solar companies and a ban on their ability to pressure customers into signing a deal on the day of a sales visit.
The OFT’s report highlighted high pressure selling techniques including salespeople staying in customers’ homes for several hours, or indicating that a product is only available at a discount if bought immediately. The techniques were employed by solar, insulation and double glazing installation companies, some of which are in breach of consumer law.
The OFT said it was cracking down on the practices, but YouGen wants the government to go further and change the law on doorstep selling techniques, particularly ‘deal on the day’ contracts.
“If companies are unable to sign a deal on the day, it removes the temptation for unscrupulous sales people to use most of the aggressive sales practices that the OFT is talking about in its letter,” said Cathy Debenham, founder of YouGen.
“These are products where it would be wise to compare suppliers and to think about the pros and cons, both of going ahead with the work, and of the approach and quality of different suppliers. Reputable suppliers would expect customers to get several quotes, and would only give a full quote based on a thorough survey.”
The organisation has launched a petition to the government calling for a ‘deal on the day’ ban.
“I welcome the OFT’s work on cracking down on these companies. UK homes are some of the draughtiest in Europe, and it would be a great pity if people are put off investing in worthwhile home improvements by the aggressive sales tactics of a minority of companies,” said Debenham.
“If we are to maintain consumer confidence in the idea of improving home energy efficiency it’s important to eliminate poor and misleading practice from the industry.”