An Ideal Home (and Ovo) Diary

In February of 2012 we decided to get solar panels installed through a company called Ideal Home. This is an account of the problems (so far) we encountered with the installation and fixing of subsequent problems.

Friday 3rd February

Sales call. The representative Delyse (I don’t remember the surname) emphasises that Ideal Home are not a cowboy outfit like some of those others and that installation is straightforward “we are normally in and out in one day”.

Also she says that while all the suppliers support FITS, Ideal Home have an arrangement with one company that can give a special deal. I point out we are contracted to Ovo as a supplier until August. She accepts we will have to use Ovo.

Monday 6th February

Estimate looks a bit expensive, especially as there is a risk we will only get the lower rate. Call Delyse. She reassures us that the estimate of generated electricity is a minimum and we will almost certainly get the higher rate. Agree and pay deposit.

Tuesday 7th February

Find that Ovo does not support FITS. Leave message with Delyse (we never get to talk to her again). Someone else calls back and explains that actually you don’t have to use your supplier for FITS, that the Ideal Home company Delyse mentioned no longer supports FITS anyway, however Southern Electric and Eon do. Confidence in Delyse takes a knock but agree to continue. Caller says she will now hand me over to Laura to arrange details of installation.

Laura is not available but will call back. I explain I am not available after 15:00 so will need to be before then.

Late in the day (about 16:00) Laura leaves a phone message to say surveyor will call on Wednesday morning with a view to installation on Friday – “call back if not convenient”. As I don’t get the message until after 18:00 this is rather irrelevant.

Wednesday 8th February

Surveyor calls early in the morning – cannot find house (remember Delyse has already been here twice). We put him right and he is a pleasant man who seems very competent. We learn that the sales estimate was overstated as the house is not truly South facing. After my wife expresses disappointment he calls someone and suddenly the house is South facing after all (amazing what a telephone call can do to the geography).

Later that day get a call from Laura saying the scaffolders will come tomorrow (Thursday 9th). This is the first we have heard about this.

We get a call from another lad (name forgotten) giving a different company name to ask if the scaffolders are with us. We put him right.

It is hard for us to be in all day tomorrow, so ring Laura back to ask what time scaffolders will come (and ask about the other call). Laura is not able to tell us. After putting some pressure on Laura she offers to call early in the morning to at least tell us how many jobs the scaffolders will be doing before us so we can estimate. This call does not happen.

Thursday 9th February

Scaffolders call in the morning to say they cannot find house. We put them right. These are the only people who are actually rather surly and rude. They express surprise as they were told it was single story house. They partially erect scaffolding and return at the end of the day to complete it.

Ideal Home call to say fitting team will be in the morning and electrician about midday.

Friday 10th February

Fitting team call in the morning to say they cannot find house. We put them right. Again appear very pleasant and competent. However, after about an hour they say the scaffolding is unsafe and they cannot go ahead. Please can they leave the tiles in our garage. They disappear.

There is no sign of an electrician at midday. Call and get a revised estimate of 14:00.

At 15:00 still no sign of electrician. I give up.

At 16:00 electrician calls. He cannot find house. Put him right. Explain the position and in conjunction with someone at Ideal Home we agree that he does what he can.

He explains that because the house is 3-phase our meter can only contribute to one of the three fuses boxes – which one would we like to use? No one mentioned this before. It limits the amount of the electricity that we generate that we can use.

There is a discussion about how to get the cable from the airing cupboard to the meter. I suggest that surely the surveyor has agreed that. He says the surveyor’s instructions only say as far as the airing cupboard and anyway he never takes any notice of what they say. We agree a route for the cable but it involves drilling through our wall twice and it is getting late. So he leaves it at that.

Still no date for redoing scaffolding.

Monday 13th February

No action – but someone calls to say scaffolders will come back tomorrow – first thing. And installation will complete on Wednesday.

Tuesday 14th February

Scaffolders call to say they cannot find the house. We put them right. New scaffolders shocked at the work of previous scaffolders and say they will report them to the boss. Redo scaffolding.

Wednesday 15th February

Fitting team come back first thing (they can remember the way to the house!). They fit tiles OK in the morning. They ask me to sign a form including a part that asks for a direct debit and my signature. I sign.

I go to work. Ideal Home ring to ask for payment. My wife explains I have already paid. The caller says it is not done that way and asks my wife to contact me to call them. However, they call again and say they have sorted it with the fitters before I can call.

No sign of electrician. I call. There is no point in him coming as it is now too dark to commission the system. I call Delyse – leave message saying this is getting beyond a joke please can she make sure electrician turns up promptly and it would be nice if she called me back. I don’t hear from her again but it appears she did contact the scheduling staff.

Thursday 16th February

Electrician (who is a different one) calls to say he can’t find the house. We put him right. He arrives expecting just to commission the system. He is dismayed to find that there is still a lot to be done. He calls office to explain. He lays cable from airing cupboard using a different route from the one agreed with the other electrician and without consulting us (although we don’t have a problem with this route).

I call Laura to say system is now commissioned can we make final payment and get the paper work. She says the team doing this is busy and will call back. They don’t.

Electrician turns up again! He has left his coat in our loft.

Friday 17th February

No one has called so I call to ask if I can pay and get the paper work moving. Paper work arrives by e-mail within an hour. Far and away the best service of the 10 days.

SEND THIS CALENDAR UP TO THIS POINT TO IDEAL HOME WITH LETTER OF COMPLAINT. GET £150 WORTH OF MARKS AND SPENCER’S VOUCHERS AS COMPENSATION.

Sunday 19th February

Notice that night storage heaters coming on in the middle of the day. The timer appears to be behaving weirdly.

Monday 20th February

Call Ideal Home who say they cannot touch the timer. I have to deal with the electricity supplier (Ovo). They will refund any costs I might occur.

Call Ovo to book an appointment. First date they can do is w/c March 12th and they can only specify am or pm. There will be a charge if we are not in. I settle for pm of March 14th as should be able to get back from lectures in time.

Wednesday March 14th

A bit late back from lecture but my wife will be there. Just about to set off back when she calls to say man from Ovo called in the morning while she was out and left a message .

Call Ovo who confirm appointment was for pm. They apologise. Will call back to see if they can fix a new appointment more promptly as it was their fault.

Thursday 15th March

Ovo don’t call back. I ring again to chase. They are still trying to fix an appointment and will ring back.

Friday 16th March

Ovo still haven’t called back. I call and suggest we just use normal mechanism for fixing an appointment. Earliest possible appointment is Tuesday 3rd April am (again dire warnings about being charged if we are not in)

Tuesday 3rd April

Stay in all morning for Ovo. They don’t appear. At 13:30 call Ovo. They apologise and will call back when the find out what is going on. Some talk of compensation.

As I put telephone down engineers from Ovo arrive (they were running late).

They replace meters and Economy 7 timer with new box. As they are departing I notice the night storage heaters are on. After some discussion it is clear they don’t know what to do about it. They just replace the old equipment in the standard way. They think it might be a “contacter” which they don’t have.

Call Ovo who take details and promise to call back.

Call Ideal Home to make sure they know what is going on. They take details and promise to call back.

Wednesday 4th April

No one has called back from either Ovo or Ideal Home, so in the afternoon call Ovo. The operator (Sarah) contacts team leader. They arrange for contractor to come out this evening between 7:30 and 8:00. A bit awkward as it will be nearly dark by then and electricity is likely to be turned off.  However, we decide it is worth it to get it fixed.  Early to get that out of the way in good time.

Contractor turns up at 6:00 while dinner is cooking in electric oven. It is the same chap who called on Tuesday. He looks at meter and discusses it with an expert over the telephone. They agree that what it needs is a contacter. He doesn’t have one and they need authority from Ovo to install it anyway. At least he didn’t have to turn the electricity off!

Thursday 5th April

Call Sarah at Ovo (I am getting to know her quite well. She is a very pleasant lady.). After some consultation, rebooks contractor for technical side survey on morning of Friday 20th of April.

30 minutes later Sarah rings back. She made a mistake. The contractors cannot do that day. Rebook for afternoon of 2nd May.

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