Why we are calling on ministers to ban 'deal on the day' for renewable energy
Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 December 2012 at 4:16 pm
There are occasions when signing a contract on the day with the first sales person you come into contact with is a good idea, but they are few and far between. An example might be when your boiler has broken down, and the plumber you know and trust comes to replace it. However, when a company has cold called you, set up an appointment and now wants you to sign a contract for (say) £10,000 for a renewable energy technology, signing a contract on the day is never appropriate.
Most of the best companies will send out a surveyor, who will look at your property and talk to you about how you use it and what you want to achieve. Then they will go away and design a system for your property, and send you a quote to mull over in your own time. They will expect you to get other quotes to compare.
Others will send a salesman, who will do a quote that is subject to survey, then want you to sign a contract on the day, and pay a deposit (before the survey). They may also charge quite a bit more than the companies mentioned above and you may not realise you're paying over the odds.
Some of these latter companies will ignore the REAL Assurance Scheme's code of conduct and put pressure on you to buy, stay longer than they are welcome, offer discounts if you sign up on the day and may even be economical with the truth.
Solar PV and other renewable technologies are a considerable investment. They can increase the warmth and comfort in your property, reduce your fuel bills, and in some cases provide a nice financial return. But this will only happen if appropriate technology is installed in the right place. They are not a quick, sign up on the day kind of investment.
This is why we are calling for a ban on the ability for renewable energy installers to do a deal on the day. This will only affect a tiny proportion of installers as most don't ask customers to anyway. However, it will have a huge impact on people who are interested in renewable energy, as it will make life much more difficult for the minority of installers who give the industry a bad name. We believe that the sector is more likely to thrive if deal on the day is not permitted.
This is why we are supporting Mike Stephenson of H2Eco who has sent an open letter to consumer affairs minister Jo Swinson and climate change minister Greg Barker calling for a ban on deal on the day.
This action was as the result of several encounters with potential customers who had been subjected to pressure sales. One elderly woman had locked herself in the bathroom and telephoned a neighbour to help her get rid of the salesman. Mike says in the letter: "We propose that Government requires the Office of Fair Trading and Trading Standards to ban the signing of contracts in the home ‘on the day’. This would be in the interests of consumers and therefore would further enhance our standing as honest, ethical and approved renewable energy experts. Rather than place the onus on the consumer to a) know their rights or b) make a formal complaint – why not make a simple and powerful rule: no sales in the home on the day of the first call."
More than 30 of YouGen's installer members have added their support to Mike's call for a ban before the official launch of the campaign. Now we are asking the wider renewable energy industry and consumers to tell the government that we want to enhance people's confidence in the renewable energy industry by banning deal on the day.
This is what you can do (if you only do one thing, please sign the petition):
1. Sign the petition - just click here.
2. Write to your MP and ask for their support
3. Tell your story. If you've been on the receiving end of dodgy sales tactics let us know. You can either post it in the comment section below this blog, or email us.By Cathy Debenham
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
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