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Smart meter cold callers are earning up to £50, wonder they'll try anything

Matt Clark
Jan 31, 2018

It’s no wonder that smart meter sellers on your doorstep won’t take no for an answer – some are being offered up to £50,000 bonuses and free football tickets to convince you to buy.

Just two days ago we heard from Lee Robinson – cornered by a salesman who tried to con him into agreeing to a "free" meter so he’d have to sign up to a new energy supplier, Utilita. The seller and a colleague have been suspended after our investigation.

And yesterday we told how companies are "bullying" people in to agreeing to have meters through emails, phone calls and texts too.


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Today we reveal how cold callers are being recruited through online job ads which offer huge commissions – if they make YOU sign up.

Alarmingly, one ads even says previous experience as a street charity fundraiser – otherwise known as a chugger – would be handy.


Chuggers welcome

Some Chuggers have a poor reputation for hounding people aggressively on the street and refusing to let go until they’ve signed up for a monthly donation.

One firm is asking for "target driven sales agents" based around Southampton selling “an excellent, market leading smart metering service” door-to-door and through telesales on the South coast and surrounding areas.

It offers "an amazing pay scheme" with uncapped commission and a competitive bonus scheme –
and claims high performers are earning more than £1,000 a week in commission.

Another company is looking for “field sales representatives” based in London who are “sales, money and target driven” to work “in a business-to-customer role selling smart metering services to households around Britain.”


Free football tickets

If you get the job it offers a basic £15,600 with uncapped commission, bonuses, incentives including the chance to win free tickets to football matches, music events and more.

In a separate advert it says previous experience in "charity fundraising, street canvassing, road side assistance sales or mobile phone sales" is useful.

A firm in Gloucester is looking for "energy sales advisors to join its field-based team." It says in the job ad: "Using our bespoke iPad app and working door to door, you will be able to show potential customers what we have to offer as well as being able to offer all new customers a smart meter."

Applicants are offered "uncapped commission" and "up to £40 per contract."

The advert says on average advisers earn between £800 and £1,100 per week – worth £50,000 over a full year – with many earning much more.


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Make 14 visits a day

And a recruitment ad for an "outbound telesales advisor" in Bolton says staff must make a minimum of 14 smart meter appointments each day for a salary of £16,640 a year.

Another company wants a "smart outbound adviser" to contact existing customers to offer them a free upgrade to a smart meter. They must "work to team deadlines and personal targets."

The ads are for third-party companies which sell their serves to energy companies. Although some energy companies also recruit their own staff.

Cold calling – though legal – is a controversial method of selling. So much so that the so-called Big Six energy firms abandoned the practice a few years back after a welter of complaints.

But the Government says energy firms they must offer a smart meter to every householder by 2020. With just two years to go and only eight million installed so far the deadline is slipping and firms are beefing up sales teams.

And trading standard experts warn the rise of the cold caller could lead to mis-selling and rip-off tactics on vulnerable people.


'A recipe for disaster'

"All our experience tells us when companies start using commission hungry salesmen to cold call customers it is recipe for disaster," says Steve Playle, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute’s lead officer for energy.

"It is down to the companies to do their due diligence checks to make sure agents do not mislead customers by just saying whatever it takes to get a sale."

Lee Robinson – who alerted us to Utilita Energy’s dodgy sales tactics in Elland, Yorkshire – explains: "I told them I wasn't interested and I won't entertain being put on the spot with deceitful or high pressure sales tactics.

"They are trying to scam people into unwittingly entering into a contract with them, in order to earn a commission."

We suggest you take Lee’s advice and say No to doorstep callers using you to earn a grand a week – and to rake in huge profits for their bosses.

Have you worked as a doorstep seller for an energy firm? We’d love to hear your story.

And if you’ve been ripped off – or had a bad experience – let us know. We’re here to help. And to save you money.