DECC back-tracks over bogus Green Deal advert claims

by Search Gate staff. Published Wed 24 Jul 2013 17:13, Last updated: 2013-07-24
DECC promises to remove misleading Green Deal ad

The beleaguered Green Deal scheme is embroiled in fresh controversy after the Department of Energy and Climate Change agreed to an embarrassing climbdown after it was accused of making false advertising claims.

The Coalition Government's flagship scheme to green the nation's properties has lurched from crisis to crisis amid allegations of incompetence and ripping off consumers.

Last month, the first official statistics of take-up of the Government's flagship Green Deal scheme revealed a disastrous launch with not one single household yet benefiting from the energy efficiency programme.

After six months of operation and 38,259 Green Deal assessments, figures released by the DECC revealed just FOUR customers have signed up and were waiting for installation.

And now blundering officials at DECC have been forced to backtrack on a series of bogus marketing claims after they were warned they could face sanctions from the ad watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

In a letter dated July 19 to complainant John Oddi of South East-based Crystal Windows and Doors, an ASA investigations executive confirmed that DECC has made assurances that future advertising of the Green Deal scheme will be amended and will now include hidden charges, such as arrangement, assessment and exit fees.

DECC have also agreed to state that the cashback figure from the Green Deal programme cannot be more than 50% of what a customer has contributed to the cost of installation.

Following its inquiry, the ASA says it is satisfied the revised marketing claims will alert consumers to the fact that they will have had to install the energy saving measures themselves.

In its letter, the ASA investigator added: “They [DECC] have also agreed to ensure that cashback reflects the basis of what features the calculation is based on. DECC have also agreed to state that energy savings may vary, this is due to consumers' future energy use and energy costs.”

The inquiry was triggered following a complaint in March when a DECC paid-for Green Deal advert appeared in The Sun newspaper.

The ad stated: "It lets you pay for some or all of the improvements over time through your electricity bill. Repayments will be no more than what a typical household should save in energy costs.”

The complainant successfully argued that the word "repayments" is substituted for the word "costs" so as to deliberately mislead consumers.

Evidence was supplied to the ASA, which claimed that consumers could conclude that they will pay no more than a typical household will save. It was argued that this is not the case as DECC had omitted the fees and exit penalties that are applicable to Green Deal finance loans.

The complaint letter added: “Consumers struggling to heat their homes will require the true costs associated with Green Deal funded improvements not the month or quarterly repayments presented in isolation with spin by HM Government.

“The advert and others like it clearly play on using the word 'repayments' as against the word 'costs', this as highlighting the repayments allows DECC to conceal the true cost, consumers obviously are very much concerned about the overall true cost, the true cost including all payments, repayments, fees, interest rate and penalties.”

The ASA investigator concluded that a further complaint that the Green Deal actually devalues house prices could not be examined as the Green Deal is still in its infancy and there are no figures yet available to support or contradict this point.

A spokesman for DECC tonight confirmed: "ASA suggested that we could improve the clarity of one of our Green Deal adverts and we were happy to take their suggestions on board."

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Comments about DECC back-tracks over bogus Green Deal advert claims

Well done John
Andy, Aberdeen around 5 months ago

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