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Solarplicity Switched My Tariff Without My Knowledge

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Energy
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  • DelburnDelburn Forumite
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    No, the OFGEM notice shows the failure to issue renewals was longstanding, it did not affect all customers though:

    "In January 2019, Solarplicity advised Ofgem that during the period from 27 November 2017 to 31
    October 2018, 9,781 customers had not received their Renewal Statement."
  • userdefinableuserdefinable Forumite
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    @joncombe I joined September 2018

    @Delburn Any way to get compensation through OFGEM you reckon, or because they have gone into administration it's a lost cause?
  • tk47tk47 Forumite
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    I was a solarplicity customer and I switched to them because they offered no standing charges on their tariff. Perfect for me as I was using hardly any gas or electric during this time.

    First I heard about them going into administration was an email from Toto welcoming me. I had no correspondence from Solarplicity on this matter.

    When I saw the tariff Toto was offering, I was confused. Especially as they were supposedly matching my Solarplicity one.

    Then I realised, looking at my old Solarplicity statements, that in May they had switched my tariff without ever informing me. Surely this is illegal?

    I doubt there's much I can do now they have gone into administration?

    I was on their "Solarplicity Fair Market Price Variable 2018" and then seemed to get switched to "Standard Variable" in May.

    Did this happen to anyone else?

    If I recall correctly, it was a variable tariff launched in April 2018.
    There was a previous tariff with a very similar name that they had earlier, also with no standing charge - in fact the same name less the "2018" on the end.

    The previous tariff, which was advertised generally and on their website, was pulled before April 2018 to new customers, and eventually pulled altogether later in 2018,

    The tariff you chose I do not believe was advertised but was only available on request. It was pulled to new applicants in Jamuary this year, and pulled completely in early April.

    The tariffs were variable, and so the supplier could vary them as they pleased, including pulling them completely subject to the usual terms (i.e 30 days notice). If you didn't choose an alternative, you would have gone onto their standard, variable, default tariff.

    Anyway, too late now - they have ceased trading.
    Most of their customers were already switched Toto in an agreement reached prior to Solarplicity ceasing to trade as a domestic energy supplier. The remaining 7500 Solarplicity customer accounts were transferred to EDF last Saturday.
  • edited 20 August 2019 at 8:04PM
    tk47tk47 Forumite
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    edited 20 August 2019 at 8:04PM
    @matelodave that might be true, but if your mobile phone company suddenly upped your monthly cost and never informed you, people would be kicking off. Bills are online these days so it's easy to forget to check them. People haven't got time to micro manage every little thing in their lives. Companies have an obligation to keep people informed when they want to start taking more money off you.

    To be fair, Solarplicity (like most other suppliers) emailed you when there was a new bill available.
    In fact, with Solarplicity they even used to attach a copy of the bill to the email as well ;)

    If you missed those emails, it doesn't surprise me that you missed the email informing you they were pulling the tariff.
  • DelburnDelburn Forumite
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    @joncombe I joined September 2018

    @Delburn Any way to get compensation through OFGEM you reckon, or because they have gone into administration it's a lost cause?

    In theory the administration should not be relevant because Toto agreed to take on your whole contract including any previously unidentified problems. Not sure how easily Toto will concede this point though, for example they are saying existing Ombudsman complaints are nothing to do with them.

    You could try complaining to Toto that you reject the May 2019 change because you were not sent the required notification, supported by the track record of Solarplicity failing to send out these kind of notices. However, you might get into you say you did not receive the notice, Toto say our records show that Solarplicity sent the notice.
  • tk47tk47 Forumite
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    Delburn wrote: »
    In theory the administration should not be relevant because Toto agreed to take on your whole contract including any previously unidentified problems.
    Sorry, but can I enquire from what basis you developed this theory, please?
    I don't recall reading anything about Toto agreeing to take on "any previously uynidentified problems"
    Delburn wrote: »
    Not sure how easily Toto will concede this point though, for example they are saying existing Ombudsman complaints are nothing to do with them.
    Again, you may have confused yourself here.

    As regards to any existing complaints logged with Solarplicity, Toto say:
    I have an existing complaint, what will happen?

    We know it must be frustrating that your complaint wasn’t heard, or actioned. We want to help, as soon as possible, but please bear with us. We’ll need time to solve your problems properly, with the due care and attention they need.
    https://totoenergy.com/solarplicity-customers#faq10

    In regards complaints already forwarded (and accepted by) the Energy Ombudsman, it is a generally accepted term that the supplier involved nmo longer is obligated to discuss such a complaint directly with the aggrieved customer.

    It may well be true (I don't know) that Toto do not wish to engage with the ombudsman about complaints lodged with the ombudsman about Solarplicity, or similary, it may be true (I don't know) that the ombudsman will not discuss complaints lodged againt Solarplicity with any other supplier (including Toto)
    Delburn wrote: »
    You could try complaining to Toto that you reject the May 2019 change because you were not sent the required notification, supported by the track record of Solarplicity failing to send out these kind of notices. However, you might get into you say you did not receive the notice, Toto say our records show that Solarplicity sent the notice.
    That would seem possible way forward, it being a new complaint logged with Toto :)
    (but, with regret, I have seen the reply from the OP above and have elected not get involved any further)
  • joncombejoncombe Forumite
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    @joncombe I joined September 2018

    @Delburn Any way to get compensation through OFGEM you reckon, or because they have gone into administration it's a lost cause?

    I suspect it's the same issue I had then. According to what I was told by Solarplicity the tariffs with "September 2018" in the name was supposed to be the date the tariff finished, not started (unlike most suppliers in my experience). They were meant to be closed to new customers from that date and everyone switched to a new tariff by early April 2019. I was told customers on this tariff were all notified it would end by September 2018.

    However I was unaware of this. I signed up in October 2018, after the tariff was supposed to have ended, but I had no idea it was supposed to have ended because it was still on their website, had no end date and indeed I signed up to it via the Solarplicity website (ironically, because it was flagged as cheaper for me by this very website!).

    All my bills showed this tariff and also included "End Date: N/A" next to them. My original welcome pack (issued in late October 2018) also shows "Tariff End Date: No Fixed Term".

    Solarplicity did confirm to me over the telephone that all the notifications for this tariff ending were sent out before I had joined and that it should not have been possible to join this tariff after September. Clearly it was. So yes like you I know for certain I was switched to the more expensive variable tariff without my knowledge, and my bill prior to the switch occuring (March 2019) continues to show I was on "Solarplicity's Fair Market Price Variable September 2018 " and and end date of "N/A".

    However my next bill, for April showed I was now on the standard tariff (with a standing charge, but identical unit rates) and, rather ironically, also informed me that it would be cheaper to be on the tariff "Solarplicity's Fair Market Price Variable September 2018", which is what I was supposed to be on!

    Also from the point I was switched to the variable (without my knowledge) I stopped receiving notifications of new bills by email. My bill for April was never issued. No email was sent and in addition in their customer portal, there was a bill number but no PDF icon or link to download it, unlike all my previous statements.

    Again, Solarplicity confirmed this problem (and it was part of my complaint). The staff were able to access my bills via the internal system they have but did eventually acknowledge they were inaccessible via the online portal, so I had to telephone them each month to have the emailed!

    So I think you are very likely in the exact same situation as me. I did raise a complaint to Solarplicity. I never got any letters, telephone calls or emails or indeed any communication of any sort from them about it. My emails to them chasing up were ignored. The only response I could get was by telephone where I was always told, after going through the complaint again and explaining the situation It would have to be escalated and someone would call me back or email me. They never did. I even had to chase, repeatedly, to get a complaint reference number. When I did I was told my complaint had been closed but there was no recorded resolution (and they had never contacted me). I got it re-opened, but they tried to reset the date to the date I asked for it to be re-opened rather than the original date of the complaint.

    After 8 weeks they just sent me the "go to the Ombudsman" letter. They agreed to re-bill on the correct tariff (with no standing charge), apologise and pay £75 compensation. As I had switched by then I asked for the compensation to be paid directly to me, not to my energy account with Solarplicity (since I was no longer supplied by them at this point). However despite this, they credited my energy account instead. I had to call to request this money be paid to me and my account closed. But this was never done before they went bust - but I'm hopeful since it meant my account ended in a credit balance (and I took screenshots to prove it), I will get this back from EDF.

    I'm sorry to hear you have similar. I suspect unfortunately you are going to struggle to get anything done about it now that Solarplicity have gone bust, but I would suggest at least raising it with the Ombudsman - it does not cost anything, so you have nothing to lose.
  • joncombejoncombe Forumite
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    tk47 wrote: »
    To be fair, Solarplicity (like most other suppliers) emailed you when there was a new bill available.
    In fact, with Solarplicity they even used to attach a copy of the bill to the email as well ;)

    If you missed those emails, it doesn't surprise me that you missed the email informing you they were pulling the tariff.

    They should have but they didn't. As I have just posted in another reply, once I was switched to the standard variable tariff (without any notification) the emails to tell me a new bill was available stopped (though them chasing up for it to be paid certainly did not stop!).

    On their customer portal I could see the bills, amounts and the date issued, but I could not actually download the bills. They had no PDF icon and no link to download them, unlike the bills prior to the date.

    It is quite possible the OP is in the same situation as me and didn't get these emails, rather than they were simply missed. I raised a complaint about this very issue, which was acknowledge by Solarplicity staff I spoke to (who ended up emailing it to me manually).

    Do not underestimate their incompetence!
  • joncombejoncombe Forumite
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    Thank you for your delightful and entirely patronising response. It doesn't really matter if I missed it because I am able to check; gmail has a handy search function (wow modern technology eh?!).

    If they are required to give me 30 days notice, then this is clearly to allow time to move to another tariff or provider if I was not happy with the change. Even if I had diligently studied every bill I had received, and noticed the tariff had been changed without any warning, I would still have been disadvantaged.

    It's gallant that you would seek to defend a company with such an appalling customer service record. However, I can confirm that I did not receive any such email about them changing or doing away with my tariff.

    Other people seemingly had the same issue, so I guess we must all be too dim to know how email works?

    The 30 days notice is required by their licence I believe. The reason is obvious, without it companies (especially those in financial trouble) could simply say that it now costs £50 a unit and get you to pay that for as long as it takes to switch. The 30 days is designed to allow sufficient time to switch if you are not happy at the price increase.
  • edited 20 August 2019 at 10:13PM
    DelburnDelburn Forumite
    34 posts
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    edited 20 August 2019 at 10:13PM
    tk47 wrote: »
    Sorry, but can I enquire from what basis you developed this theory, please?
    I don't recall reading anything about Toto agreeing to take on "any previously uynidentified problems"


    Again, you may have confused yourself here.

    As regards to any existing complaints logged with Solarplicity, Toto say:

    https://totoenergy.com/solarplicity-customers#faq10

    In regards complaints already forwarded (and accepted by) the Energy Ombudsman, it is a generally accepted term that the supplier involved nmo longer is obligated to discuss such a complaint directly with the aggrieved customer.

    It may well be true (I don't know) that Toto do not wish to engage with the ombudsman about complaints lodged with the ombudsman about Solarplicity, or similary, it may be true (I don't know) that the ombudsman will not discuss complaints lodged againt Solarplicity with any other supplier (including Toto)


    That would seem possible way forward, it being a new complaint logged with Toto :)
    (but, with regret, I have seen the reply from the OP above and have elected not get involved any further)

    My theory is that Section 8.3 of Solarplicity's Terms and Conditions said "You cannot transfer this Contract to anyone else without Our permission. We may transfer this Contract to any company that can legally supply Energy to the Property."

    The transfer from Solarplicity to Toto relied upon this part of the terms and conditions. My opinion is that "Contract" means all rights and obligations associated with the Solarplicity energy supply contract, which include failures by Solarplicity in relation to the Contract. If the Solarplicity contract had allowed a transfer to Toto without complaint rights passing over, then it would have been in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, unfair terms Schedule, so uneforceable.

    If Toto do not like this then they should have got an indemnity from Solarplicity in relation to the costs of such complaints and agreed a mechanism whereby they would still be paid even when the inevitable administration occurred.

    You should not believe everything Toto say in the FAQ. I have already told them I reject their assertions in relation to complaints. Toto not wanting to take on Ombudsman complaints was in a reply I received from them in relation to an ongoing complaint.

    I also have an email from OFGEM which says Toto should continue handling non-Ombudsman complaints carried forward from Solarplicity. I was not clear on why OFGEM had separated out Ombudsman complaints in this email.

    The last I heard from the Ombudsman is that all Solarplicity complaints are on hold (probably because they know they will not get paid).
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