Small energy supplier Solarplicity has been banned by Ofgem from taking on new customers and increasing direct debits payments as a result of poor customer service.

The regulator said that the ban will remain in place for three months unless Solarplicity significantly improves customer service, ensures that people can switch smoothly and that contract renewal notices are sent in a timely manner.

Solarplicity has also been ordered to manage complaints appropriately, identify vulnerable customers and ensure they receive the appropriate support.

Ofgem said that between March and September 2018, there was an “unacceptably high proportion” of calls abandoned and “unacceptably long call waiting times”.

The company is now prohibited from taking on new customers and cannot increase vulnerable customers’ direct debits.

Mary Starks, executive director of consumers and markets at Ofgem, said: “We have taken action against Solarplicity to protect its customers from experiencing further detriment.

“Solarplicity must get its house in order and provide a level of service that its customers expect.

“If not, Ofgem will take the necessary steps to ensure customers are further protected and will take the relevant action needed to do this, which may result in its licence being revoked.”

If Solarplicity fails to make improvements within three months, Ofgem can confirm the provisional order to extend the ban and, ultimately, can take steps to revoke its licence.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home services, said: “Solarplicity finished rock bottom in our annual energy satisfaction survey, with scores of customers complaining about appalling customer service over the phone and online – so it’s right that the regulator is stepping in.”

The action “should also serve as a warning to all firms letting their customers down with shoddy service, billing and payment problems or poor complaints handling that they need to up their game”, he added, as he urged anyone unhappy with their current provider to switch to a better deal “and potentially save around £300”.

A Solarplicity spokesman said: “We are committed to meeting the expectations of every single Solarplicity customer, but Ofgem’s decision, which was made on old historical data, disregards the vast improvements that we have made to our customer service.”