Protecting consumers and
Posted: 1 October, 2011. Written by Virginia Graham
The REAL Assurance Scheme ensures that consumers wishing to install a small-scale renewable heat or power generating system in their homes have the necessary confidence and service standards they need to make an informed choice. The Consumer Code is backed by the Office of Fair Trading under their Consumer Codes Approval Scheme, and dovetails with the MCS certification for installers and products.
The REAL Assurance Scheme Consumer Code covers:
Completing the order
The REAL Assurance Scheme monitors compliance with the Consumer Code robustly. Where there is evidence of serious non-compliance, members are referred to the Non-compliance Panel. Monitoring includes:
During 2010 the REAL Assurance Scheme continued to monitor members’ compliance with its Consumer Code robustly. The Panel met 7 times during 2010 and held three Hearings. During the course of non-compliance proceedings, three companies resigned from the Scheme: Affordable Solar Energy, Clear Sky Solar UK and Solar Fusion.
Two companies were suspended from the Scheme as a result of an investigation the REAL Assurance Scheme carried out into the allegations of non-compliance made by Which? in its May 2010 report: Everest Ltd (now Everest Energy Ltd) and Ideal Solar Energy Ltd. After they had provided certain undertakings and assurances concerning their future compliance with the Code, both companies had their suspensions lifted, subject to a one-year probationary period.
One company, Solar Power Scotland, was suspended from the Scheme in 2009 for non-compliance, had its suspension lifted in February 2010, subject to a one-year probationary period due to be reviewed in February 2011.
Two companies, Solar Europe and Unique Energies Ltd, had their membership of the Scheme terminated for persistently failing to respond to correspondence about complaints. One company, Britannic Power Ltd, had its membership of the Scheme terminated for persistently refusing an audit. (Solar Europe has since been reinstated having provided certain undertakings regarding their responses to communications from REAL.)
22 companies had their membership of the Scheme terminated for non-payment of their 2010 membership fees. (Some of these companies may no longer be trading.) They were: