Thursday, 5 April 2012

Protect us from smart meter mis-selling

It is an accident waiting to happen: companies under investigation for questionable sales tactics, given the freedom to enter millions of homes.

The biggest programme of legal home visits gas and electricity companies can remember is getting underway.

28 million homes and 2 million small businesses will have new smart meters installed to measure energy use in greater detail, get rid of estimated bills and put the meter-reader out of a job.

Yet we've just heard that E.ON is being investigated by the energy watchdog, Ofgem, after complaints about its doorstep selling tactics.

Scottish Power, Scottish and Southern and npower are under scrutiny as well. EDF has had to pay customers millions of pounds after breaking marketing rules.

Hence today's statement from the energy department, DECC, saying:

"The Government will set out in suppliers’ licences that there can be no sales concluded during the installation visit and that the consumer must agree in advance to any face-to-face marketing activity."

There will be a special code of practice to govern the installation visits, which will be happening from now until 2019.

Let's hope it works.

You won't be charged for the smart meter at the time of installation, or the display they'll provide in the home to show how you are using energy.

But the whole process, apparently one of the biggest engineering installation programmes in Europe, will be paid for out of our bills.

You can refuse to have one, but you'll be paying for it anyway!

Here are some basic questions answered.

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