Our investigation into the quality of advice and quotes provided by solar PV companies showed just how much the industry needs to improve. So, how did companies respond – and has anything happened since then?
The Energy Saving Trust’s Philip Sellwood started a conversation responding to our investigation – and got lots of people talking.
The issues the investigation brought to light showed us that there was a role for Which? in getting things improved.
Holding solar PV companies to account
So, as soon as the investigation was published, we got to work talking to the companies investigated and the governance bodies in the solar sector about how they can improve their services – and ensure future customers don’t fall foul of solar cowboys.
We wrote to all the companies we investigated to explain our findings and suggest areas where we thought things needed to change. It’s always interesting to see how industry reacts to an investigation. There are some companies, like Freesource Energy, which take the issue really seriously and do everything they can to ensure problems don’t happen in the future. But then there are others who never respond to our findings.
In addition to the action taken by Freesource Energy, Evo Energy has updated its staff training and customer advice. The two companies our investigation found in breach of the REAL consumer code, have been referred to the REAL non-compliance panel.
Skyline Solar has invested in new technical training, changed energy performance software to include the cost of replacing the inverter and more. GreenSun has said that they will be working within the guidelines set out in the Which? checklist.
Our solar PV checklist
A key issue in the investigation was the lack of quality advice and information being provided by the companies we investigated. So we came up with a solar PV checklist in collaboration with governance bodies, industry and other specialist organisations. The aim is to provide consumers with upfront advice about what to expect from a solar PV company visit and to encourage companies to use it when they’re selling and to ultimately give consumers a better service.
The checklist will show consumers what they should expect pre-visit, during the visit of a solar PV company and things to check and ask after the visit.
Freesource, Evo Energy, Skyline Solar, Solar PV Power and Green Sun have all agreed to use the checklist. But still no word from Anglian, Sainsburys, Homebase, Solar 4 Us, Green Home Company, Ecofirst.
Influential industry reps like REAL, the BPVA, MCS and some certification bodies have agreed to put the checklist on their website and recommend that their members use it.
The checklist is due to go live later in the month and we hope that consumers and industry alike will find it useful. But that’s not the end of our work on solar PV. We’ll continue to work with industry to improve the consumer experience and we’ll also be pushing the government on filling the gaps we identified in their microgeneration strategy.
Have you had problems with solar PV sales – and do you think our checklist is a good start to improving the situation? What would you like to see companies doing more (or less) of to give consumers better information and service?