Shirebrook resident lost £6,000 in solar panel scheme

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THE boss of a solar panel company has been ordered to pay customers over £11,000 in compensation after failing to return deposits when they cancelled contracts for work.

Derbyshire County Council’s trading standards began investigating Robin MacDonald, trading under the name of Solar Initiative, following a complaint from Shirebrook resident Martyn Hutchinson.

Mr Hutchinson had paid Bedford-based Solar Initiative an £8,250 deposit towards £16,500 worth of roof panels which were to be fitted before the closing date for a Government incentive scheme.

But when he tried to cancel his contract during a legal seven day cooling off period, Mr Hutchinson received only a £1,650 repayment – leaving him £6,600 out of pocket.

The county council’s investigations identified three other customers who had paid deposits to Solar Initiative which were not returned in full when they cancelled their contracts.

Appearing at Chesterfield Magistrates Court, MacDonald, of Thirlmere Gardens, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, pleaded guilty to four charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

He failed to refund customers after they had cancelled, provide a properly worded cancellation document and tell them his proper business name and address so that they could contact him if there was a problem

The court ordered MacDonald to pay back a total £11,125 in compensation to three customers who had been left out of pocket when deposits weren’t returned. The fourth customer had already received a refund via their bank.

He must pay Martyn Hutchinson of Shirebrook £5,000 the maximum award possible at a Magistrates Court.

He was also ordered to pay compensation of £4,500 to a Leicestershire victim and £1,625 to a victim in Oxfordshire.

Councillor Kevin Parkinson, Derbyshire County Council cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We are pleased that our action will lead to the customers receiving their deposits back.

“In such cases customers have a seven day cooling off period in which to cancel their contract should they wish and deposits must be repaid in full. We will investigate reports where they are not and will take robust legal action where appropriate as in this case.”

Hutchinson must pay the compensation at a rate of £75 per week and must make the first payment within 28 days of the court ruling.