Our bid for more solar panels was let down

We had solar panels installed in 2019 as part of the Solar Together initiative and plan to add more this year. We still chose Green Energy Together done Solar Together Projects with our Council. We paid a deposit of £1,340. Then there was a strange silence, but eventually scaffolding and two fitters appeared. The installers had not been told that the panels needed to be installed in addition to those already in place, so the kit they brought was unsuitable. Since then, despite daily calls and promises from the company that someone would call back, nothing has happened.

We ended up canceling our order over the phone and email asking for a refund of our deposit and removal of the scaffolding. Again there was silence, even from the company director, whom we emailed directly. We are concerned that this company has overextended itself while holding on to our money (and many other people, if Trustpilot is to be believed). We are also concerned that the scaffolding is still on our home and is a safety hazard.

Solar panels are an obvious path in the midst of an energy crisis, and it’s worrying that the path seems so difficult and fraught with obstacles.
AJ, London

The irony is that the Solar Together program promises to make solar energy more accessible and affordable for households who might not otherwise risk the investment. The council group buys the best available offer from a vetted company at auction, and bids are sent to households that have expressed interest. Many homes have benefited from the concept, but some installers who have auctioned off their services may have taken on more work than they can handle.

Green Energy Together’s Trustpilot page is alarming reading, not only because 69% of reviews rate the company bad or bad for the same reasons, but because Trustpilot itself warns that it had to remove fake reviews. Trustpilot informed me that the company had ignored a formal request to stop its “abuse” of the platform after “several suspected fake four- and five-star reviews” were discovered.

It said: “Ultimately, this enforcement action did not deter the company and as a result we canceled its paid subscription to Trustpilot in June. We also placed a warning banner on their Trustpilot page to alert consumers to abuse of our platform.”

So far, so bad for a company whose website declares that it keeps the late Queen’s “principles and values” alive. I have brought this alleged abuse – and the details of your ordeal – to Green Energy Together Director Nick Elbourne. Blaming supply chain bottlenecks, he claims customers received a newsletter by the end of October notifying them of any delays. As for the Trustpilot abuse, he says the platform didn’t provide enough information about the fake reviews to “diagnose the issue.”

Then to iChoosr, which runs the Solar Together program and claims to vigorously screen the eligibility of the installers it works with. It also insists it caps the number of homes that can apply for a bid once its installers reach full capacity. It told me Green Energy Together has completed 2,000 installations so far, but Covid and Brexit have created “unprecedented problems” with supply chains and staff.

“We are aware that some customers have not had such a smooth journey as we run our customer service alongside those of the installers who win our auctions and we work with Green Energy Together to resolve any issues,” it said.

Green Energy Together got in touch with you after I brought your plight to iChoosr. The scaffolding was taken down in three days, but two weeks after being told the deposit would be returned, they’re still waiting for their money.

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