I have yet to cross paths with someone who have not, themselves, crossed paths with someone who has a solar horror story to tell. There are stories where an overly committed Salesman won’t leave their home, leaks in roofs, and worse case scenarios where panels have literally fallen off the roof. Shopping for solar is an exciting time, however, it is an investment and consumers need to be mindful of unscrupulous parties who have more interest in closing a sale than ensuring their customers understand the technology, the environmental benefits and what their unique needs are.
Our job as Solar Educators is to outline a few of the common tricks, traps and scams so you can avoid them.
Beware of Fast Talking Sales People
Be wary of someone who is overly excited about what they are selling. Most solar professional will be passionate and want to talk but be careful if your question has not been answered fully or has been deflected. Until your questions have been answered fully and directly, finding a company that will answer your question is probably the best choice.
High Pressure Tactics
Most companies will use marketing expressions such as, “deal ending soon” or “low stock” because, in fact, there is low stock or specific promotions are running to an end. However, when you hear a promotion is ending the same day you are speaking to the sales representative and you can’t find any literature on the website supporting the promotion, chances are good it is just the sales tactic to get you to sign on the dotted line. Ethical sales people will not put you under that sort of pressure. They will want you to take time to think about your investment to ensure you are confident in your choice. They also know that time will allow them to ask more questions that might be pertinent to their decision. If you feel like you are being overly pressured, even bullied to sign by the company, it is probably an indication you should avoid the company and choose a different solar installer.
Gimmicks, Gadgets and Bonuses
We love free stuff just as much as the next person. A little bit of a bonus could be a fun way to celebrate a purchase. However, when the focus is on the swag and not the core of the product, chances are good that the sales company is distracting you from what you are ultimately purchasing. Keep in mind that most gadgets included with solar power packages are significantly less expensive than the retail value they put on them. Unless the bonus is directly related to the solar system you are installing, you are probably better off negotiating a cheaper price on the system.
Be very wary of offers of free appliances, such as a big screen Plasma TV. Plasma TV’s are often called “space heaters” because they really do produce a lot of heat and consume a lot of energy. Remember, you are purchasing a solar PV system to save on emissions and electricity bills – and the influx of energy use for an appliance you don’t necessarily want or need, will eat into those savings
If you feel like you may have experienced some of these red flags during a conversation or meeting with a solar sales representative, give us a call. Our Energy Advisers are ready to answer any pending questions you might have and work with you to ensure that the solar panel installation you are researching truly does answer to the energy needs you have.
Pete Jacoway is Del Sol Energy’s Senior Energy Adviser. He said his commitment to the solar industry was a “natural transition” from the Western industry where he began his career. His roots are grounded in Historic downtown Brentwood where his family owned a traditional western store geared toward farm and ranch owners in the far East Contra Costa community.
Leave a Question or Comment below or feel free to contact Pete at anytime with questions regarding solar.