London, England — (METERING.COM) — April 26, 2013 – A new industry code aimed to protect and empower consumers, and ensure their experience is positive and that they get the best out of their smart meters during the smart meter rollout in Britain, has been approved by regulator Ofgem.
The Smart Metering Installation Code of Practice sets out minimum standards for suppliers during the installation of smart meters as well as in the pre- and post-installation phases. In particular the code includes strong protections around sales and marketing for domestic consumers, including a ban on conducting any sales during the installation visit. For any face-to-face marketing to be conducted during the installation visit, a consumer has to give consent before the day of the visit. Further, consumers are under no obligation to receive any face-to-face marketing.
“With the rollout of smart meters getting fully under way next year, it is essential that householders and businesses have confidence that meter installations are done in a fair and professional way,” said Philip Cullum, Ofgem’s Partner for Consumer Policy. “This new code, developed by industry with extensive input from consumer groups, establishes a rigorous protection regime that puts consumers first.”
Other conditions in the code include suppliers being prevented from levying an upfront charge for the supply and installation of a standard smart metering system to domestic consumers. Suppliers must also adhere to a number of requirements catering specifically for vulnerable consumers, including taking steps to identify consumers with specific needs in advance of the visit.
Suppliers are also directed to provide information, advice and a practical demonstration to help consumers use their smart metering system and raise awareness of energy efficiency.
The code, which is backed by license conditions and the power to levy fines if rules are breached, comes into effect on June 1, 2013, ahead of the mandated government rollout of smart meters from 2014.