The sales pitch
If the company that has come into your home to give you a solar panel quote is approved under the Microgeneration Certfication Scheme (MCS), you're protected under the Consumer Code from misleading sales.
To find out if the solar panel company you're dealing with is part of the MCS, you can check the MCS website and search by the company name.
Which? solar panel investigation
Despite the Consumer Code banning pressure selling, a previous Which? investigation found some companies were misleading consumers at point of sale.
In 2011, we posed as a potential customer and invited 12 firms to a house rigged with secret cameras to see whether they were complying with the Consumer Code.
Two companies breached the code by offering activities banned by the code.
There are many solar panel installers out there, so we recommend you always collect a range of quotes to compare prices before committing to buy.
- You should always check if the solar panel company is MCS certified
- If they are, they should follow a Consumer Code
- Among their rules, the Consumer Code bans the following - staying in the consumer's premises for more than 2 hours; withholding price information, or claiming there is limited availability of the energy generator
Pressure selling banned
The Consumer Code prohibits the following:
- staying on your premises for more than two hours (except in exceptional circumstances which must be recorded)
- withholding price information until the end of the visit
- claiming there's limited availability of the energy generator
- offering an inflated initial price followed by a discount or equivalent (for example, additional equipment for free), for the following reasons:
signing on the day
agreeing to provide testimonials
providing customer referrals
displaying a board outside their home
providing performance monitoring data
It's also prohibited for companies to carry out follow-up sales visits or phone calls offering further discounted prices or attempting to further pressure you into signing a contract.
Exaggerated performance ratings
The code also stipulates that before the contract is signed, the solar panel company must give you a written estimate of how the energy generator will perform in a format you can clearly understand.
The written estimate must be based on specific performance data for the technology in question and, wherever possible, for your property.
Where the estimate is based on some standard or average premises, rather than being specific to your home, the company must provide full details of the source of the predicted performance figures.
Technical site survey
The company must tell you you whether or not it's carrying out a technical site survey during the visit.
Where it's not, the company must make clear that the quotation and performance estimate are likely to change following the technical site visit.
In such a case, you should be told you have the right to cancel the contract with no penalty, even if the technical site visit takes place outside the cooling off period.
The company must present calculations based on the standards that have been developed for the MCS installer standards and the estimates should not mislead you in any way that could influence your decision to buy.