Energy supplier Solarplicity has been banned from taking on new customers by Ofgem due to its poor switching process and customer service.

The regulator has issued a provisional order which also bans the company from increasing vulnerable customers’ direct debits.

Ofgem said there was an “unacceptably high proportion of calls abandoned and unacceptably long call waiting times” between March 2018 and September 2018 and whilst call handling has improved since then, it hasn’t seen the required improvements elsewhere.

The ban will remain in place for three months, which could be extended if Solarplicity fails to make the improvements.

The energy supplier must ensure customer contact channels are improved, managed and maintained, with queries and issues resolved in a “timely manner” and ensure the switching process is completed for customers so they are smooth and completed within the timeframe.

It must also identify vulnerable customers and ensure they are receiving appropriate support as well as review customer accounts, especially those in debt, to make sure those having difficulty paying are managed properly.

‘Appalling customer service’

“As millions of energy customers brace themselves for yet another eye-watering set of price hikes, this should also serve as a warning to all firms letting their customers down with shoddy service, billing and payment problems or poor complaints handling that they need to up their game. Anyone unhappy with their current provider should look to switch to a better deal – and potentially save around £300.”

‘Significant increase in complaints’

The Energy Ombudsman accepted 1,035 complaints about Solarplicity for investigation last year, with billing being the main reason.

“We are working actively and collaboratively with Solarplicity to identify and help implement improvements that can be made to the company’s complaint handling process and customer service more generally.”