* Some energy efficiency firms give misleading information
* OFT investigation continues
* Government energy efficiency scheme to launch this month
By Karolin Schaps
LONDON, Jan 10 A number of British companies
offering energy efficiency measures such as insulation or double
glazing may be breaching consumer law, the fair trade watchdog
said, a verdict that may hurt a government drive to make housing
The findings by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in a report
on Thursday come a few weeks ahead of the launch of a government
scheme to encourage people to make their homes more energy
The so-called Green Deal, expected later this month, will
allow homeowners to pay for loft insulation, modern boilers,
draught proofing and other materials in instalments that never
exceed the amount of money they save on energy bills after
A number of efficiency assessors, providers and installers
have been chosen by the government to carry out the work.
But the OFT said it had found evidence that some businesses
were giving potentially misleading information or pressuring
customers at home to make sales.
"The OFT's review found that the behaviour of some
businesses in the energy efficiency sector - including instances
of poor practice, some of which might breach consumer law - risk
undermining consumer confidence and limiting expansion of the
market," the watchdog said in a statement.
It said it was continuing to investigate whether the law had
been infringed in the energy efficiency sector. The watchdog can
refer cases to the courts for legal enforcement, which could
result in fines.
"The Green Deal sets robust standards where only accredited
or authorised players may operate in the market and is
underpinned by the highest standards of consumer protection,"
Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said in a
statement in response to the report.
The OFT said it had contacted over 50 of the leading
installers of double glazing, insulation and solar panels -
areas of the sector where poor practices were found - to remind
them of their obligations under consumer protection law.
It said in some instances salespeople stayed in customers'
home for several hours or offered discounts if purchases were
(editing by Jane Baird)