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Who rules the roof? The downfall of a solar company

Which? members helped stop a £50m solar panel company in its tracks recently, after the extent of its dodgy trading was uncovered through numerous complaints. But is this the tip of the iceberg?

Over the last year, we received a series of complaints about the same solar panel company, Solar Energy Savings (SES). Which? members told us SES had bombarded them with ‘hard sales’ pitches, had sent panel installers who damaged and caused leaks to their roofs, and had used mis-selling tactics, such as promising the panels would work better than they could.

These complaints were obviously concerning, so we liaised with the Insolvency Service which was running an investigation. It was found that SES, which had offices across Britain (and was turning over a huge £50m per year), was using serious mis-selling tactics. This included claiming SES was a member of a trade body when it was not.

Plus, SES was found to have used high pressure sales tactics – using sales pitches that lasted over two hours, with customers eventually signing contracts merely to get the salespeople out of their homes.

One down, but how many to go?

Following the Insolvency Service’s investigation, Solar Energy Savings Ltd was wound-up at the end of July by the High Court in Manchester. Interestingly, it did not admit to the allegations but neither did it object to the winding-up order.

Although we here at Which? tend to shout a quick ‘hurrah!’ when such dodgy traders get shut down, we presume those that fell victim to SES have little chance of getting money back or getting out of the scheme – a sickening thought.

What is also worrying is that this company is potentially one of many that are lurking out there, as suggested in a previous Conversation when JunkkMale told us:

‘Everyday almost I get a card in the letterbox or an email pitching solar, often implying a ton of “free”… but, as with lunches, I have my doubts’

Sorting the wheat from the chaff

We’ve produced a downloadable solar PV installation checklist that includes tips and advice on what you should do, and the questions to ask, before, during and after a visit from a solar PV installer. We hope that this checklist will empower people to sort the wheat from the chaff when filtering through solar PV companies.

I’d also like to point out that despite the attraction of the feed-in tariff, we haven’t seen that many cowboys operating, which is probably thanks to the certification scheme in place.

My personal circumstances won’t allow for a solar investment, but I’m worried that my solar-keen family may accidently bump into a company like Solar Energy Savings and get misled or ripped-off. But is this just a case of one company ruining it for the rest? Have you had any good or bad experiences with solar companies?

Comments
Guest
glenn turrell says:
27 February 2017

hi any body had dealings with our planet solar panels thank you for any response glenn turrell

Guest
Jill Booth says:
20 July 2017

Yes – but it was under their old name of My Planet – dont do business with them

Guest
Helen Green says:
19 April 2017

We got solar panels of ESS they after the man came he was here for 4 hours we got them they left the house a mess we not saved any money we are left with 9000 pound debt and we can not get in touch with them all phone numbers are not working so fed up with it all its making me ill

Guest
Kim Stevens says:
5 May 2017

Has anyone had any dealings with a Company called Solar Style UK? They promote themselves as the biggest supplier of solar panels in the UK, we have had their system for under 4 years – it did not work properly for most of the first year, (half the array did not work at all) and it took 3/4 months to get them out to repair it (a repair that took about 30 minutes for them to do on the roof). Although the system is guaranteed for 10 years, now it has stopped working again entirely. We had believed that the problem was with the PV Invertor and we had had the supplier of that out under guarantee to change it. Their Engineer told us the PV was working fine it was the array on the roof that was defective. Solar Style said they had no Engineer in employment to check our system when I rang. Since then one has started and been trained and a month after my first call came out. He was only qualified to check the PV Invertor, he said half the array had stopped working again and the PV Invertor was faulty after all. It is now 2 weeks after Solar Style UK Engineer’s visit and in spite of their Remedial Dept promising to ring us back within a week with a date to get the roof checked and hopefully sorted, we still await that call. Does anyone have any idea what would constitutes ‘reasonable time’ to repair a system/parts, I have done a letter to the Company which I will forward on Monday asking for them to let us know when they are coming.

Guest
William Cumming says:
2 June 2017

Thanks Kim – have cancelled an appointment with them this afternoon 🙂

Guest
Ian Tottman says:
30 July 2017

Hi Has anyone had dealings with Solartherm Uk part of Silvercrest Enery Ltd

Guest
Brian says:
2 September 2017

hi yes I have had dealing with solartherm part of silvercrest , 2 howard chase Basildon Essex , I ve had on going problems and now they are not taking my calls, ive been mis sold and had no help from them. please be aware of this company as my experience is not nice and is continuing as my problem is not being solved .