Solar panels attracting fly by night companies

Real Assurance, the regulator for the solar panel industry which is in turn regulated by the Office of Fair Trading for the selling of solar panels, says there have been an increased number of consumer complaints that are worrying them. Even though it was launched last year, the scheme is only now generating any momentum with about 10,000 installations since the beginning of 2011 and plenty more planned before autumn.

While the majority of suppliers have not had complaints against them, the regulator says they worry about some firms using pressure sales tactics. They like to go after those that have recently retired and who have some money, but are worried about the rising cost of electricity gaining more momentum.

The code’s design is to prevent pressured or misleading selling, but the problem is that not many consumers are aware of the code and not all of the sellers are signed up, nor do they seem to follow it 100%. Because of this, the complaints are increasing though the exact amount is hard to determine due to the processes complexity.

The nature of the complaint or problem will determine if it goes to the electricity supplier, the installer, Consumer direct, Real Assurance, the Energy Ombudsman or the body that the installer was certified by.

Seventy complaints had been received by Real Assurance about renewable energy thus far in 2011, equal to nearly the same amount for all of last year. With 50% of those 70 complaints being related to solar PV, which is also an increase.

There have been a total of 28 complaints received by the Energy Ombudsman, while consumer direct numbers were not available because they do not codify information on that industry. Many will not get a chance to see if the panels are as good as salesman say for some time, therefore complaint calls may take even more time to start increasing.