Just an average day in the office...

So, last time we looked at keeping our Energy Saving Trust Recommended standards up. This time we’re addressing that all-important question: it’s all right having a recognisable logo that represents a standard, but in the digital age, how do you stop anyone using it any way they like?

We take environmental mislabelling seriously in terms of the need to cut emissions and its potential to be misleading to the consumer.  It’s very important that we look after the companies who have gone through the proper channels of the rigorous certification process to be able to use the logo. With that in mind, they deserve to have us do something about their rival companies who aren’t playing fair by using the label without authorisation on non-certified products that might not even be any good.

It’s lucky, then, that we’ve got eyes like a hawk, albeit with a little bit of outside help. We monitor use of the logo across a variety of media. We have a good press cuttings service that sends our guys regular updates, on uses of the logo in press.

At roughly 50 ‘spots’ a week, it’s not always unauthorised use of the logo by unlicensed manufacturers and retailers that we scan for. In most cases, the indiscretion is not insidious, more just erroneous– like using it incorrectly by not sticking it next to a product.

This is a more important distinction than it may look, as it’s a product certification mark registered with the UK Intellectual Properties Office –so even those well-meaning companies approved by the scheme can’t just use it in a generic way and imply that the company rather than the product is endorsed.

We also monitor online usage, checking company websites of both those involved  in the scheme as well as some random checks of those not yet in the fold.

And as much as this work is, as it sounds, largely desk-based, we do get out if the office on excursions in-store now and again. As well as being an excellent opportunity to window-shop the excellent array of top energy-performing gadgets, (it’s important to monitor how the logo’s penetrating into the ‘real world’) we do observe the odd misuse here and there and make the necessary follow ups.

We rely on your help, too. Sometimes people call in when they see it being displayed by companies who shouldn’t be, and we get on the case. Stewart, one of our Energy Saving Trust Recommended label-meisters saw one misuse during a camping trip recently on a van in the car park!

Mis-labelling products is no joke – it can land companies in some serious hot water. And it’s not only us who are serious about making standards stick – the National Measurement Office (NMO) are getting heavy on the issue.  There’s been some fairly high-profile mis-claims around energy use of late, with freezer manufacturers notable recent offenders.

Those caught out might find their wares forced out ofUKcirculation, or at the very least forced to make a serious overhaul of their company practices, at considerable cost. The NMO have also been consulting on sanctions to be imposed for mis-labellers recently, with some suggested punishments on the table being prohibitively heavy.

Last year 100 companies were found mis-using our label. We managed to resolve most of these, and some are still ongoing, and while realistically we may never get the number down to a flat zero, in the name of fairness to consumers and companies alike, we aim to make ‘trying your luck’ a very silly game to play indeed.