CMA Welcomes MCS Changes but Stresses Consumer Law

THE COMPETITION and Markets Authority (CMA) has responded to the Microgeneration Certification Scheme’s (MCS) consultation on proposed changes to its scheme.

The organisation has broadly welcomed MCS’s proposed changes, endorsing its aims to improve transparency, consistency, and surveillance.

However, the CMA says it is crucial that any changes maintain or enhance consumer protection. It added that the certification scheme should mitigate potential design and delivery risks and also consider the wider standards landscape.

The CMA looked at consumer protection in the green heating and insulation sector against its good practice principles for standards bodies, and findings on the effectiveness of the standards landscape.

Problems for Consumers and Contractors

MCS started its consultation by conducting research to find out what problems consumers and contractors experienced.

The research found MCS scheme safeguards fall short of what consumers would expect. The route to resolution for a consumer is often confusing it found, due to complex processes and inter-relationships between the organisations that deliver MCS.

In its proposals, MCS wants to simplify the current scheme, particularly for disputes. This includes simplifying contractor requirements to treat consumers fairly and comply with consumer protection law.

Although consumers want extended warranties, only Insurance Backed Guarantees (IBGs) are currently offered. These are highly caveated, have restrictive clauses, don’t cover all workmanship, and have unrealistic excesses, the MCS commissioned research said.

Consumers also said there is a lack of accurate, reliable, impartial information to give them the confidence to install renewables.

MCS says it would like to address the weaknesses of workmanship guarantee insurance and raise installation standards by assessing them on site more.

MCS also wants to take a more active role in managing consumer complaints and disputes, with responses being made faster, more consistent and transparent.

Solar Satisfaction

The research found that over 90% of consumers want minimum standards that can be enforced with Government-recognised certification for installers.

However, the same study also found that all of those with solar PV were very satisfied with their systems, with the performance, the savings on bills and with the payback.


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