News HeadlinesUK News

CMA warns against misleading heat pump claims

UK: The government’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has warned that consumers could be put off buying “green” heating technologies, like heat pumps, if they are unfairly treated by businesses.

In a new report, the CMA warns that without consumer confidence in the “green home” heating technologies sector, there is a risk that people are put off from buying green heating and insulation products, and that progress toward net zero is slowed.

“To help ensure that consumers have the necessary confidence and trust that they are protected, it is vital that there are robust and consistently high standards of quality, customer care and business competency, and that these are effectively monitored and enforced,” the CMA says.

While evidence collected by the CMA highlighted that people could have a positive experience buying green heating and insulation products, it also raised concerns about its complexity and a lack of information.

It highlights that in the case of newer products, such as heat pumps, are unfamiliar to most people. As a result, people are likely to feel uncertain when they shop for green heating and insulation products and so are more vulnerable to being misled or exploited by businesses.

The CMA admitted that some of the efficiency and cost saving benefits claimed by companies selling solar panels or heat pumps raised concerns. These potentially misleading sales claims by some businesses could lead people to purchase heating products which may not be as green as advertised or might put people off green alternatives altogether, slowing progress to net zero, the CMA said.

The CMA also found that quality assurance schemes – which play an important role in the sector – could do more in some areas to protect consumers better. The report claims that the level and robustness of protections these schemes give to consumers varies. Some people might miss out or have less protection than others especially if something goes wrong, it claims.

To help people looking to buy green heating and insulation products, the CMA has published a new consumer guide. It sets out key considerations for people at each stage of the buying process and summarises their rights under consumer protection law.

Alongside the consumer guide, the CMA has published a set of good practice principles for quality assurance schemes and will work with scheme providers to implement these principles, as well as with the UK governments to help better support and protect consumers in this sector.

“While many businesses will be operating in the best interests of their customers, some businesses appear to be misleading people into buying their products,” said the CMA’s senior director for consumer protection. “This needs to stop.”

The CMA says it will now be looking into misleading claims, engaging with businesses, trade bodies and other key stakeholders. It intends to produce guidance for businesses so they are aware of their legal responsibilities. The CMA will also consider whether further action, such as enforcement, is needed.

Ian Rippin, CEO of MCS, the standards and certification body, concurred with the findings of the CMA report. “Our upcoming consultation, which we will publish next week, outlines proposed changes to MCS which not only improve the robustness of our scheme as a recognised quality mark, but bolster safeguards for consumers. Our proposals address many of the challenges described in the CMA report in relation to small-scale renewables, including what the CMA refer to as green heating,” he said.”

The report is available to read and download here.

Related Articles

Back to top button