OFT tells off naughty efficiency firms

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has written to more than 50 of the UK’s biggest installers of energy efficiency equipment about keeping standards high after its review of the […]

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By Vicky Ellis

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has written to more than 50 of the UK’s biggest installers of energy efficiency equipment about keeping standards high after its review of the sector found instances of “poor practice”.

The OFT discovered poor quality installations in places, as well as businesses using high pressure sales techniques or giving unclear information about paperwork and cancellation rights.

In some cases salespeople stayed in homes for several hours or suggested a product was only available at a discount if bought straight away.

Nisha Arora, Director in the OFT’s Services, Infrastructure and Public Markets Group said: “Many businesses in this sector comply with the law and engage in good business practices but we urge others to raise their standards. Businesses that fail to address the issues that we have identified risk enforcement action.”

The OFT is asking major double glazing, insulation and solar panel firms to keep their act as clean as possible or risk the growth of a sector which had sales worth £18million worth in 2010-11.

Ms Arora added: “The sector has significant potential for business growth. However, it is important that people can be confident the companies they deal with are complying with the law, and that they are able to make informed purchases, without pressure sales techniques.”

The OFT has advised businesses to make sure their representatives stick to consumer protection laws, whether employing them directly or indirectly.

The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) welcomed the Wise Up to Energy Efficiency campaign, saying it would boost homeowners’ confidence in the sector.

Ron Gainsford, the TSI’s chief executive said: “It is of paramount importance that householders do not feel pressured in buying anything and  we would urge businesses to respect consumers who say ‘no’ – and this includes not knocking on doors which have the no cold calling super sign on them.”