A call 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 has been supported by Stourbridge expert Colin Priest.
He was commenting after the renewable energy consumer body YouGen organisation launched a petition to the government demanding action on doorstep selling techniques, and in particular ‘deal on the day’ contracts.
The appeal came as the OFT published a review revealing the high pressure selling techniques employed by solar, insulation and double glazing installation companies, some of which are in breach of consumer law.
“I welcome this campaign,” said Colin, pictured, who lives in Quarry Bank and works for green energy firm Noreus in Stafford, “as a few individuals are giving the rest of the industry a bad name.
“At Noreus we pride ourselves on giving customers a fair price and a professional service. People contact us after reading about what we do or through recommendations from friends and neighbours when we have done work for them.”
The OFT said it was cracking down on practices which include salespeople staying in customers’ homes for several hours, or indicating that a product is only available at a discount if bought immediately.
It has written to 50 leading companies in the energy efficiency sector reminding them of their obligations under consumer law and has also launched a separate investigation into the worst of the selling practices identified in its review.
Cathy Debenham, founder of YouGen, said: “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. “Reputable suppliers would expect customers to get several quotes, and would only give a full quote based on a thorough survey.”
Colin said: “Whenever we see a customer we carry out a full survey and give them a complete job specification. We recommend they pay the deposit with a credit card so it is protected and there is a seven-day cooling off period for them to change their mind. If they do they will then be given their full deposit back.” He added that within two weeks of the work being done each customer is sent a thank you letter and a satisfaction survey. If there any problems then he aims to sort it out straightaway.
“If the work is done properly at a fair price then the customers, the sales team, the surveyors, the fitters and the office staff are all working as a team and everyone is happy,” added Colin.
Cathy Debenham added: “I welcome the OFT’s work on cracking down on these companies. 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.” Nisha Arora, Director in the OFT’s Services, Infrastructure and Public Markets Group, said: “It is important that customers are able to make informed purchases, without pressure sales techniques.”
For more details about energy saving ideas call Colin on 0845 474 6641. .