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Friday, June 01, 2018

Customers can still be hounded by suppliers over smart meters despite GDPR

Customers can still be bombarded with letters advertising smart meters even if they have already rejected one despite the introduction of strict rules governing personal data.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force last week and gives consumers more control over how companies use their personal information to contact them.

Energy companies have been ramping up offers of smart meters, which allow users to track usage in real time. The Government has said that every customer must have been offered one by the end of 2020.

But those who have rejected the offer can still be harassed despite GDPR as the letters and emails are classed as "service communications" as opposed to unwanted marketing, which should be largely eliminated by the regulations.

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Other types of service communications include bills or information relating to price changes.

A spokesman for the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which is responsible for enforcing GDPR, said: "Simply saying no to a smart meter is not the same as objecting to direct marketing under the GDPR, unless the individual has said both in the same communication."

GDPR does not mean companies cannot target customers with direct marketing without consent, but they do have the right to "opt out". The ICO said any communication should make it clear how this can be done.

The smart meter roll-out is aimed at reducing energy usage in a bid to bring down costs for consumers - the Government estimates savings will be £300m by 2020. But the programme, which is being led by the industry, has a budget of £11bn, and there are fears this figure could rise following delays.

 

Read the full story at The Telegraph.