Business

Declining Solar Sales May Be Linked to Sales Tactics

May 6, 2017, 4:01 PM HST
* Updated May 6, 3:11 PM
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Photo courtesy of EnergyQuest.

Is the solar system industry losing its sunny disposition? And could it be related to high-pressure sales tactics?

Tesla’s SolarCity reported a nearly 40 percent drop in solar installations from last year to close out the first quarter of 2017, according to Reuters. The solar equipment company, which has two locations in Kona on Hawaiʻi Island, said it deployed 150 megawatts worth of solar generation in the first quarter of 2017 compared with 245 megawatts for the same period last year.

This declining trend appears to be affecting solar system companies across the board. And according to private and government agencies, consumer complaints over high-pressure sales are on the rise, and could be at least partly to blame.

According to Greg Dunn, president of the Hawaiʻi Better Business Bureau, consumer complaints are up 29 percent so far this year, nationwide. Almost a quarter of those complaints are related to sales practice issues.

For Hawaiʻi residents, keeping these tips in mind may help when making a good choice for a solar system.

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When dealing with door-to-door salespeople, consumers should take also take the following steps to protect themselves:

  • Ask for company ID to confirm the employment of the individual
  • Read everything and make sure you understand the contract before you sign it  
  • Don’t give in to “Must Act Now!” and other high-pressure sales tactics – these are red flags for a possible scam
  • Do your research on the company that the salesperson represents – check hawaii.bbb.org for complaints and customer reviews
  • Ask for references – get opinions from other people about their experience with the company  
  • Know your rights as a consumer by reading up on local laws for door-to-door sales
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Hawaiʻi state law provides the following protections for consumers:

  • A buyer is entitled to a full refund as long a cancellation notice is sent in writing to the business within three days of purchase
  • When making a purchase the buyer must receive a complete receipt or copy of sales contract in the language in which the sales presentation was given
  • All verbal promises must be put into writing
  • The date of the sale, the name and address of the seller, and the description of goods or services purchased, including the make and model number should be provided on the contract
  • Sellers must attach to the contract or on the front page of the receipt, a cancellation form notifying buyers that they have three business days to cancel the sale in writing

Note that Hawaiʻi law does not protect against mail or telephone orders. 

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