As the global community strives to achieve zero carbon emissions, numerous countries are encouraging the use of solar energy by offering tax rebates and incentives. Despite these noble intentions, this has also given rise to opportunistic practices, primarily solar scams that are increasingly prevalent.
This article seeks to enlighten you on the following key areas:
Understanding Solar Scams: We start by explaining what solar scams entail, providing a clear picture of their operational mechanisms.
Common Solar Scams: We delve into the most frequently encountered types of scams. By familiarizing yourself with these, you’ll be better equipped to identify and avoid such fraudulent activities.
Door-to-Door Solar Scams: A popular strategy among fraudsters is the door-to-door sales approach. We explore how these scams are conducted and the persuasive tactics they employ to lure unsuspecting homeowners.
Manipulative Sales Pitches and Tactics: We outline common sales pitches and tactics that scammers use, ranging from claiming association with reputable companies to the use of pressure sales techniques.
Identifying Solar Scams: Lastly, we provide practical tips on how to spot and avoid these scams.
This article aims to equip you with essential knowledge and awareness to navigate the solar market safely and effectively. Understanding these points could prevent potential financial loss and protect you from falling victim to fraudulent activities.
Navigating the minefield of door-to-door solar scams
Countries around the world are trying to achieve zero carbon emission goals to reduce the carbon footprint of electricity generation by reducing taxes on solar installation and sales for solar installation companies. There are many tax rebates and incentives on solar-based electricity generation for solar-powered homes. A conventional method of advertising is physical interaction with people, convincing them to install solar by going door-to-door.
Many companies that install solar power misuse these benefits and lure average, everyday folks into solar panel scams. Many solar scams are from companies selling their products and services with door-to-door solar sales.
In today’s market, these salespersons are talking, public speaking experts who don’t have basic knowledge of solar energy. Based on their communication skills, they’re convincing homeowners to install solar energy systems for cost savings and environmental protection. Their main target is elderly retired people or those who save money.
Door knockers try to make you sign a “contract,” claiming it’s free. They even pitch in other benefits and complementary packages.
Once you sign the contract, they disappear for a few days for ‘processing of documents.’ The processing of documents is fake. They are trying to see your patience and interest.
Once you’re interested, they come up with more solar financial rebates and try to have you sign other contracts also. Ultimately, they demand money typically ranging from $200-$1000 for processing a “solar rental system.” They try to take cash out of your pocket without installing the actual solar system itself.
Sometimes, they install solar rooftop panels and the whole system as per market rate. However, the quality of any products is so poor, that they barely run for a year before failing, causing an investment loss.
You cannot claim your money back because these companies disappear from sight instantly after scamming so many people. These door-to-door salespersons are very convincing, and ordinary people cannot check the quality of solar panels, so they fall into the bait of these door knockers.
What is a solar scam?
A solar power scam is when salesperson(s) or ads on the internet trying to sell high-efficiency solar panels at a low price with other benefits and a high rate of return.
They claim to have special government rebate quotas and provide free solar modules under approved government schemes. They are either selling very poor-quality products or trying to take your money by billing you with substantial hidden charges for consultancy, documentation, legal advice, and other services.
What Are the Most Common Solar Scams?
Scammers use different and innovative ways to do solar energy scams. Below are the most common scams used:
SCAM 1: RESELLERS OR MIDDLEMAN
Most common door-to-door salespersons are not from the original company. They’re usually from another small one that buys products from big companies. By using well-known names more prominently and often than their own company, they want to convince you to install solar panels from their company. They pressure you to sign a contract, without researching and quotes from other contractors.
Big companies don’t take responsibility for those salespeople. They scam you by charging huge prices for the products, documentation, licensing, and permit fees. After the installation, these small companies vanish within a year, and warranties or after-sales services cannot be claimed.
SCAM 2: FINANCIAL SOLAR SCAM
The second most common scam is a financial scam that states to provide solar solutions for your home without any fee and free of charge. It starts with flashing ads or flyers of ‘FREE solar panels”.
Once you have fallen for that eye-catching phrase and contacted the salesperson, they try to arrange meetings or appointments. In discussions, they emphasize the solar financial rebate, free-of-cost installation, and converting your electricity load to the solar energy system.
Initially, they claimed to receive only solar energy system components’ charges. If you have checked the market, it will seem fine and compatible with you. There are tons of hidden charges that are not included in the original work. They scam you into making a contract with their company that installs “free-of-charge” solar modules, but in the end, they bill you with tons of hidden charges and service fees.
SCAM 3: FINANCED OR RENTAL SOLAR PANELS
This also falls under the category of free solar panel scams. Solar installation companies try to give you the temptation of free energy from solar panels without any initial investment or capital cost.
They scam you by installing solar power to your home under rental agreements with initially meager rates or rent. However, the hidden charges and percentages that they never mention anywhere will make this installed solar energy system’s price soar to the highest possible level.
After installation, you will have no other choice of either paying at high percentages or canceling the contract with a huge cancellation fee, penalty, and other installation and decommissioning costs.
SCAM 4: BENT GOVERNMENT INCENTIVES
Scammers find ways in government incentives to do solar power scams. They represent government incentives by bending their means to trap the customer.
Some incentives don’t even exist or aren’t announced by the government. Some incentives are announced under special conditions, but they imply the incentive is for everyone and under all circumstances.
The most common trap is total investment payback from the government. Then they charge you their fee after installation of the solar energy system. They also scam you in processing and permit fees by saying permits and other legal documents are free.
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How Do Solar Panel Door Knockers Work?
Selling solar door-to-door is common among scammers. First, they look for a target audience that can easily fall for installation scams and solar financial rebates.
Since security and other facilities are not well developed, communities and residents are not too attached or familiarized with the neighborhood. Mostly older people and growing middle-class people are targeted. Newly developed communities are prey for door-to-door solar companies.
After finding the target, they try to make the impression that they are educating the public on behalf of local utility companies. Once they get the confidence and attention of the audience, they offer the services of getting free solar energy systems for you from the government.
They also misguide you about your home’s solar loans and solar rental systems to scam you. They sound like investments are not needed and you will enjoy green, clean, and free energy for the rest of your life.
They also try to get a small contract by completing a form that has all your information. After signing this ‘initial contract,’ they will disappear for days for “documentation.” During that period, someone else will try to contact you over the phone and convince you to get small and harmless packages along with the government-funded project that will boost your system’s efficiency and cost.
Once you sign a second contract, they reappear and sign multiple agreements with you, which will have processing fees. All they want is to get money from you without doing anything.
If they install a solar system, it will be either the lowest possible quality or have too many hidden charges.
What Sales Pitches and Tactics Do They Use?
Solar panel door-to-door sales are popular, and the salespersons are experts in public dealing and have excellent speaking and convincing tactics. Some techniques the door knocker scamming salesperson uses are listed below:
CLAIM TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH AN ELECTRICAL SUPPLY COMPANY
The most common scam that door-to-door scammers play is claiming to be part of the local electrical utility company, encouraging people to install solar-based electrical energy systems and giving free solar panels and other benefits. These claims are usually fake and lie.
FORCED SALES TECHNIQUE
When the door knockers sense your interest in their services or their lies, they try to push you with powerful sales tactics. They try to corner you in decision-making and instantly build pressure on signing a contract.
They push you by saying, ‘ if you don’t get this now, you won’t receive any tax rebate or relaxation.’ Or they act by calling “their boss” to get final discounted prices that are only valid while at your door. These sales tactics build pressure so that you fall into their trap of scamming you.
NO IDENTIFIABLE COMPANY NAME
First, they never tell you about the company name they represent. When you insist, you will find out that the company is recently registered, and you cannot find it anywhere near your location. It is always located far away from the area where they are advertising. If you think of installing solar panels in Florida, you can look at registered companies and take advice from experts in the solar industry.
They always try to sell you different packages of multiple services and products. They may offer solar battery backup with some exciting package deals. The purpose of these deals is to keep you thinking about their company. As they build up the pressure and sometimes aggressive tone, they are trying to corner you to buy something from them.
While talking to you, they usually give you huge discounts that make you feel special, or guilty about rejecting such offers. They have already spiked up the prices, and their prices are still very high after these discounts.
5 Practical Tips on How to Spot a Door-to-Door Solar Scams
After reading about all the scams, you might have started thinking that free solar is a scam. Here are some tips to avoid solar solutions scams:
TIP 1: NOTHING IS FREE ANYWHERE
Remember, nothing is free. If someone claims-free installation, just know there is a cost of labor, permit, documentation, and protection of components other than solar energy systems. So, if someone offers free services, there must be hidden charges.
TIP 2: TALK ABOUT THESE SCAMS WITH YOUR FAMILY
Organizations like the FBI warning to keep an eye on such door-to-door scammers. Older people are easy prey for scammers, and you must continue to communicate with your family to make them aware of such scams.
TIP 3: WATCH OUT FOR FINANCING SCAMS
Most scammers offer you financing solutions because this is a desirable solution where you can enjoy solar energy without investment and other charges. However, you should be aware of your local government financing legal terms and laws. Consult experts before signing such contracts to avoid long-life regrets and loss of money.
TIP 4: GET MULTIPLE QUOTES
You should always get quotes from different companies to check the market rates and terms and conditions. These door knockers don’t encourage people to go to other companies and even become aggressive with such suggestions. It’s best if you get to know the market rate before signing any contract. Getting quotes from multiple sources is your right, and you must use them. You can get quotes for commercial solar power systems in Florida.
In this article, we have tried to make you aware of solar scams and what to avoid. We reviewed what a solar scam is and how door-to-door solar salespeople scam people. We have answered the question of ‘is solar visit a scam.’ While discussing these points and getting expert opinions, we urge you to politely say No to the door knockers and neither show any interest nor share your information with any of them. Check the market and do your thorough research before installing a solar-based energy system. You should know installation costs, energy outputs, permits, documentation costs, and net metering conditions in your area. Use expert opinions, like PPM solar in Florida, before installation and site survey. You can also contact authentic and registered companies installing solar panels for homes in Florida