The appointment of an ombudsman for the solar water heating industry marks a big step forward in ensuring that the industry delivers on consumer expectations and meets stringent quality standards.
The new ombudsman, Colin Bain, who represents the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa’s Solar Water Heating division (SESSA SWH), is responsible for investigating complaints against companies operating in the solar water heating sector as well as those against consumers.
SESSA SWH is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the creation and continued growth of an authoritative renewable energy hub. With about 500 solar water heating divisional members across South Africa, it strives to enhance the growth of the renewable energy sector in Southern Africa and to attract investment to the industry, for the benefit of all South Africans and the environment.SESSA also works closely with Eskom to execute its rebate programme and all SESSA members are officially accredited to sign up end-users for rebates on solar water heating installations.
According to Bain, while his major role will be to mediate and arbitrate for the successful resolution of customer complaints, he also intends spending time on assisting members in interpreting and understanding their responsibilities in terms of SESSA SWH’s code of conduct.
“SESSA SWH’s formal, documented code of conduct is intended to regulate the interactions of the various industry players with their customers and to promote high personal and business standards in the industry at all times,” says Bain.
“As ombudsman, my role will be to ensure this code of conduct is strictly applied by the various parties involved in the solar water heating industry and, where difficulties or complaints arise, to assist the parties to find common ground. In that way, the ombudsman function will contribute to ensuring the industry provides an effective service to its customers,” he says.
Bain will also try and assist consumers who have complaints against non-SESSA members, which is quite often the case. “In assisting these consumers the ombudsman also improves the non-members’ understanding of the many legislative requirements of the industry.”
SESSA SWH ambassador, Irvan Damon, comments, “An ombudsman is usually the last resort to resolve a conflict between individuals and large establishments and SESSA SWH is proud to add this method of recourse to its broad range of services. It is already proving its worth.”