Solarplicity banned from taking on new customers
Energy supplier Solarplicity has been banned from taking on new customers for three months or until it improves its customer service.
Regulator Ofgem says it's taking action after months of poor customer service from Solarplicity, as well as issues with its switching processes.
The Energy Ombudsman says it investigated 1,035 complaints against the supplier – which has 60,000 customers – in 2018.
While the ban is in place, Solarplicity won't be able to take on any new customers or increase vulnerable customers' direct debits.
If it doesn't make the necessary improvements in three months, Ofgem could extend the ban or ultimately even revoke Solarplicity's licence.
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What improvements must be made?
Solarplicity must now take the following steps:
- Improve customer contact channels to make sure queries and issues are resolved in good time. Ofgem says there were "unacceptably long call waiting times" and an "unacceptable" number of calls abandoned between March and September last year, although it has now seen some improvement.
- Make sure switching processes are complete so that switches are carried out smoothly and within required timescales.
- Make sure customers receive their contract renewal notices on time.
- Make sure complaints are addressed and resolved in a timely manner.
- Identify and support vulnerable customers.
- Review customer accounts to make sure customers having difficulty paying are being managed, for example by placing them on repayment plans.
What does Ofgem say?
Ofgem director of consumers and markets Mary Starks 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."
A spokesperson for Solarplicity said: "We are committed to meeting the expectations of every single Solarplicity customer, but Ofgem's decision, which was made on old historical data, disregards the vast improvements that we have made to our customer service."
They added that the vast majority of customers now switch within the 21-day limit, and the ban doesn't cover its partnerships with social housing landlords.
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