Help for scammed consumer?

Hi,
I have been scammed by a FL solar contractor. I was given a spreadsheet showing I would produce 40 kw/d. Then, I signed the contract, paid 15k down, and 5 days later, get a little email telling me to trim the trees a "little bit," in order for the unit to function properly.
So I emailed 3 times on how much to trim. They said the installers could help me best. A couple weeks pass, installers show up, they install panels inverter etc. They have no clue what I am talking about. The other 15k was due per the contract.
Turns out the shading is causing a production drop to around 15/day, b/c of the tree shade. Furthermore, in order to get to near the 40/day, I need to take down 3 50 ft. trees! So much for a "little trimming," as I was told.
After months of back and forth, they finally admit that moving the shaded panels would be a good idea, but at a cost to me.
Anyhow, I have spoken with my atty., but I would rather keep that as a last resort. Does anyone know of ways to put pressure on these people, other than following them to their trade shows, and offering my own referral to potential customers?

Thank you.

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,998 admin
    Re: Help for scammed consumer?

    Probably going through an attorney/yelp/etc. is going to be your only options.

    Solar panels need sun and any shading just kills their output (not a few percent but, 20-50-100% depending on shading/installation).

    I have a next door neighbor with heavy shading 1/2 the year from trees (his and neighbors'). The solar sales folks did not bring up the shading issues. When he asked me about getting GT Solar, I told him to ask--And the sales folks never bothered to contact him again.

    The whole issue of sun and shading (trees, neighbor adding on to home, etc.) is one real issue with expecting a 20-40 year life system to have full sun during that entire time--And many times we have limitations on how much we can control the shading (in my area, we have heritage tree laws--So, we are prohibited from even topping (which is bad for trees anyway) or removing them if we wanted.

    There are tools that they can easily use to predict solar output based on shading--Such as the Solar Pathfinder:

    Solar Pathfinder


    If they used one and doctored the evidence--Fraud. If they did not use one, then they may have not done due diligence when designing the system. Both of which may help you in negotiations.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: Help for scammed consumer?

    Not sure that "scammed" would be the right word - but it does show that the contractor did not check out the site before making that 40 kwh claim.

    But I am sure that someplace in the ad and in the contract that there is a clause about "up to", "as much as" etc. - assuming full sun on the panels. With the trees you will never get full sun.
  • christian09christian09 Registered Users Posts: 22
    Re: Help for scammed consumer?

    Thank you Bill.
    I had the trees taken down, and it has increased output by 30%'sh.
    Here are the other things the co. did.
    1) They installed the lowest string, so my pool cage would begin shading it at around 3-4pm.
    2) The contract indicated I would get a south facing array.
    I have contacted them several times concerning these issues, without a resolution. Council is now involved.
    There are few other issues they screwed up on, but I think #1 or #2 will suffice.
    Thanks
  • jaggedbenjaggedben Solar Expert Posts: 230 ✭✭
    Re: Help for scammed consumer?

    Hmm, scammed or not scammed... we need more information.

    First, it's winter time right now. If your system is producing 15 kWh per day right now, it may produce 20-30 kWh in the summertime. I realize that's not 40 kWh per day, I'm just saying you need to use a year-round average. Moving on...

    How big is your system? If it is smaller than about 8kW then they definitely scammed you because that size system won't likely produce 40kWh per day in Florida, trees or not. 40kWh per day would require about an 11kW system. If they gave you an 11kW system installed for $30,000 then you got a screaming deal, and maybe you should just cut your trees and forget that they were a little late in mentioning this. However, seeing that you paid $30,000, I would be surprised if they gave you a system much bigger than 6kW. If they gave you a 6KW system and promised you 40kWh per day, then they scammed you, trees or not.

    Is this a roof mount or a ground mount? If a ground mount, then they have less excuse for not facing it south if that's what they told you they'd do. What azimuth is it facing?
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