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The consumer entered into a contract with a Code Member for the supply and installation of a solar PV system in 2011. The inverter of the system, which was installed by the Code Member, appeared to be working fine until 26 May 2017, when the inverter ignited causing a fire. As a result of this, the consumer had to call the fire brigade to put out the fire and the consumer suffered damage to their property. This included damage to the walls, carpet, and one of their bedrooms. Furthermore, the consumer’s system stopped working and the consumer lost out on Feed-in Tariff payments. After the incident, the consumer contacted the Code Member about the matter. The Code Member came to replace the damaged inverter with a new one under warranty.

However, the Code Member did not compensate the consumer for the damage caused by the failed inverter. The Code Member argued that the damages would have to be claimed directly from the Manufacturer as they supplied the inverter and were aware of the issues with this type of inverter. The consumer disputed this and believed that they had the right to claim compensation from the Code Member and not the Manufacturer as their contract is with the Code Member. The consumer highlighted that the Supply of Goods and Services Act explains that they have statutory rights against the company which supplied and installed the items for them and that the Manufacturer’s warranty is in addition to these rights. The Code Member maintained that they were not responsible for the damages and that they had already replaced the inverter for the consumer.

The consumer therefore came to RECC and registered a complaint against the Code Member through the RECC Dispute Resolution Process. The consumer initially stated that they were seeking over £10,000.00 for the damages, lost generation, and for the stress and inconvenience caused by the incident. However, we explained that we could not handle compensation requests for stress and inconvenience. After obtaining the complete complaint file, and following the consumer substantiating the costs for the damage caused by the inverter, the amount that the consumer could seek from the Code Member through our mediatory process was £5,034.01. Once the complete complaint file was obtained, the mediation period commenced and the Code Member was informed of the full details of the dispute and outcome being sought.

Initially, the Code Member stated that they do not believe they were responsible for all the costs incurred as a result of the inverter igniting. Therefore, they were only willing to pay the consumer £2,500.00 as financial compensation. The consumer was not satisfied with the offer proposed by the Code Member considering their contract is with them. The consumer therefore believed that they should be compensated the full amount, especially as it had caused them a lot of stress and inconvenience the consumer wished to pursue the Code Member for the full amount. We therefore explained the Code Member’s responsibilities to the consumer and informed them that the consumer has the right under Consumer Law to seek the costs from them as they contracted with them for the system, and that the Manufacturer’s warranties are provided in addition to these rights. The Code Member then increased its offer to the consumer to £3,000.00. The Code Member was also advised of their rights to claim against the Manufacturer.

RECC relayed this offer to the consumer and explained to them that while we appreciate that they are seeking the full amount and the reasons for this, we also appreciate the Code Member’s position on the matter. We explained to the consumer that the Code Member provided evidence to show that the Manufacturer is aware of the issues with the inverter that has been supplied. After having some time to think about this, the consumer accepted the revised offer from the Code Member.

Following this, the Code Member paid the consumer the sum of £3,000.00 directly into the consumer’s bank account. Therefore, the issue was resolved and the dispute file closed. The Code Member thanked RECC for our assistance with the matter and the consumer thanked us for helping them obtain compensation from the Code Member and for bringing the matter to a close.

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