Most Common Complaints with Solar Panel Installers
Are Solar Panels A Scam?
The concept of installing solar panels on your roof seems like a no-brainer at first glance. As opposed to relying on expensive fossil fuels from oil companies, customers look forward to the idea of transforming their place of residence into a solar home. With the advent of tax credits and net metering, solar panels have never been more affordable. Unfortunately, however, many people are left asking themselves “is solar a scam” due to immoral companies that have misled their clients in several aspects when it comes to installing solar panels.
No, it is not. However, more and more customers have proclaimed that various companies misled them about the unforeseen expenses associated with installation and executed incompetent craftsmanship. Even worse, many of these customers signed a contract as to which bound them to the current situation with no chance of recourse.
Investigation Into The Solar Industry
Upon numerous complaints from thousands of solar panel owners, the CFA (Campaign for Accountability) conducted a year-long study into the solar rooftop business sector to evaluate these claims. Upon conclusion of their investigation, they revealed that companies were making promises about how little their electric bill would be which was far below realistic levels. They also found that some people intentionally preyed on the elderly, individuals with fixed income.
Of the many companies investigated, the CFA is highlighting two companies, in particular, SolarCity and Vivint.
Out of the tens of thousands of complaints the FTC received, over 55 percent of the complaints were about these two companies. A vast majority of the complaints that were made, centered around the fact that they were essentially tricked into signing a contract to get solar panels and received poor customer service.
Once the investigation was concluded, the CFA also asked federal and state law enforcement officials to evaluate the solar panel installation business sector, as well as to pay special attention to SolarCity and Vivint. As a result of this, the SEC or Securities and Exchange Commission initiated their own investigation as to which various state attorney generals are proactively watching the business sector for instances of fraudulent business practices.
The popularity of solar panels has been rising dramatically year after year as more people begin to realize the actual benefits of getting a solar panel installed. As a result of this immense growth, the FTC hosted several events to highlight consumer protection issues surrounding solar panel installers. For instance, in one of those events, individuals from the MA Attorney Generals Office and Consumer Unions discussed the specifics surrounding incorrect wording surrounding energy tax credits, unrealistic promises about the amount of savings one would be able to get, as well as the fact that some homeowners have been unable to buy or sell homes which have solar panels.
Most Common Complaints with Solar Panel Installers
Many customers of Vivint Solar complained about the company’s practices which involved misleading sales prices and false promises. One customer proclaimed that they were promised a 20-30 percent reduction in their utility bill. However, their electric bill actually rose 80 by the end of the first month and 100 percent by the end of the second month. Another common complaint that has been made about Vivint is the fact that the company misrepresented itself as being a partner of a utility company. In some incidents, the company has also bluntly refused to remove solar panels from the homes of customers who no longer wished to do business.
As the complaints continued the mount, more and more consumer protection agencies have criticized the Communist unethical business practices. One consumer agency, BBB, received over 500 comments about the company back in 201. The FTC themselves received over 30. The State attorney general made settlements with the company which resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution and violation fines in an effort to compel them to change their business practices.
Many customers have also complained about this company. In 201 over six hundred complaints were made against the company with the Better Business of Bureau and over 100 to the FTC. Dozens of complaints have also been filed with state law enforcement officials. A prime example of the primary kind of complaint this company receives is demonstrated in the official complaint by a customer in Oregon.
In the complaint, the consumer proclaimed that SolarCity assured them that their monthly expenses would not surpass $77. But, once the contract was finalized and the solar panels were already installed, they were charged an additional $70 per month. Another consumer reported that his solar home monthly bill was 2 times the amount they were initially assured.
Holding The Business Sector Accountable
As far as holding the industry accountable go, the CFA insisted that four state attorney generals in addition to the FTC should investigate fraudulent sales and marketing practices within the solar industry. They also published articles within the local and state newspaper in an effort to expose fraudulent practices within the industry. The SEC launched their own inquiry to determine if companies were hiding data surrounding cancellations. This in itself is highly illegal as investors typically use cancellation rates to determine the quality level of a company.
In July 2017 the Consumer Federation of America released a report which highlighted that solar panel sales-related complaints, were amongst the nation’s top ten complaints.
Falls On You To Evaluate Companies
Don’t worry we are here to help. If you go submit a bid with us I can assure we will never do business with any large installer. The reality of the fact is that the industry is too vast for it to be governed by the FTC, SEC, or CFA. While they can help to highlight major culprits, many companies fall through the hoop because they are low-hanging fruit and not high on the agenda of consumer protection agencies due to restraint on funding. But, by taking a few precautionary steps, the consumer can help to protect themselves from unethical companies.
SolarHomeAppoinments has been providing solar information services for several years. Their list of pre-screened solar panel installers has all been trained to conduct effective competent services. In addition to that, the company requires an extensive amount of experience beforehand, prior to applying for a position. While it may be true that you get what you pay for. We have been continuously demonstrating that good solar panel installation services can be affordable without a compromise on quality.