Ofgem has issued a provisional order on energy supplier Solarplicity, banning the energy supplier from taking on new customers and increasing vulnerable customers’ direct debits, due to its poor switching process and customer service.
The ban will remain in place for three months unless Solarplicity significantly improves by:
- Ensuring customer contact channels are improved, managed and maintained, with queries and issues being resolved in a timely manner;
- Ensuring that the switching process is completed for customers, so switches go smoothly and are completed within the required timescales;
- Ensuring that customers receive their contract renewal notice in a timely manner;
- Managing complaints appropriately and resolving them in a timely manner;
- Identifying vulnerable customers and ensuring they are receiving appropriate support;
- Reviewing customer accounts (especially those in debt) to ensure customers in payment difficulty are managed properly, for example by putting them on repayment plans.
Ofgem has sought improvements in Solarplicity’s customer service, which has been poor for a number of months.
Between March 2018 and September 2018, there was an unacceptably high proportion of calls abandoned and unacceptably long call waiting times. Whilst call handling has improved, Ofgem has not seen the required improvements elsewhere.
Ofgem has issued the provisional order to prevent further harm to Solarplicity’s customers. Ofgem will continue to monitor Solarplicity’s behaviours in the coming months.
If Solarplicity fails to make improvements within three months, Ofgem can confirm the provisional order to extend the ban. Ultimately, if the supplier fails to improve Ofgem can take steps to revoke its licence.
Mary Starks, executive director of consumers and markets at Ofgem, said “We have taken action against Solarplicity to protect its customers from experiencing further detriment.”
“Solarplicity must get its house in order and provide a level of service that its customers expect. If not, Ofgem will take the necessary steps to ensure customers are further protected and will take the relevant action needed to do this, which may result in its licence being revoked.”
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said “This action by the regulator was necessary to protect existing customers and prevent further problems building up.”
“Solarplicity languishes at the bottom of our energy star rating league table, which assesses suppliers’ standards of customer care.”
“We’ve shared our concerns about the service consumers are getting with both Solarplicity and Ofgem. It’s now up to Solarplicity to address these matters and start delivering for its customers.”
“This provisional order highlights the continuing problem of struggling companies operating in the energy market. Ofgem must continue to use the powers at its disposal and take action against failing firms.”