Over the last year, we have seen a disturbing trend in Spokane and nearby communities: solar panel salespeople going door to door, making outrageous claims, and promising state and federal rebates that may not be real.
Some of these door-to-door companies hire sales staff via social media ads and direct messages, promising you can make $20K monthly as a solar appointment setter and closer. These companies also promise no experience is needed and that solar sales provide recession-proof income. You only need to send a quick, direct message, and they will hook you right up.
YouTube is thick with “how to sell solar” videos showing fit young men arriving at high-end hotels in expensive cars to do intensive sales seminars. They pad each other on the shoulders and introduce themselves as top producers working for various solar sales companies. The step-by-step videos they hawk can really be used to sell anything, and the young men have one thing in common: none of them are solar panel installers, electricians, or construction professionals.
Yup, that’s correct. They have no background in solar installation or construction in general. They aren’t electricians or contractors or builders - they are simply salespeople.
Some heavy hitters, like one of the founders of Lumio, Jonathan Gibbs, have already been in trouble with the law for other opportunistic high-pressure sales endeavors like timeshare sales. This is concerning when you learn that in 2021, five solar companies - Atlantic Key Energy, DECA, Lift Energy, Our World Energy, and Smart Energy Today - merged to create the company Lumio, with Gibbs as the co-founder and CEO. We know that Lumio’s salespeople are going door-to-door in the greater Spokane area. Please be careful if they knock on your door. Remember, the door knockers are not contractors, they are simply salespeople who move from area to area and close as many contracts as possible.
Just recently, the solar company Pink Energy aka Power Home Solar, went bankrupt, crumbling under a wave of complaints filed by consumers who allege that they didn’t get the deals promised by the company’s deceptive sales staff. The Ohio Attorney General is seeking a permanent injunction against Pink Energy, saying the company used deceptive and unconscionable tactics as it worked to persuade people to buy its solar systems.
Disappointed Pink Energy customers claim that:
- They never saw any savings on their power bills or certainly not to the level Pink Energy promised.
- Solar systems were installed using shoddy materials.
- Solar systems under-delivered power, or failed.
- Consumers paid more for power monthly after they got their solar system when they factored in the loans used to finance the systems. Some have been left $50-80,000 in debt, with no savings on their power bill.
That last point is especially aggravating not just to the consumer but also to high-quality contractors like us. Often times consumers start looking into solar panel systems because they want to avoid high power bills. If they buy from one of these high-pressure, door-to-door outfits, they end up with a double whammy of bad solar panels and high bills. At this time, attorney generals in North Carolina, Missouri, and other states are also looking closely at the business practices of door-to-door solar sales companies.
It is correct that there is a 72-hour grace period for any purchase of more than $25 you make from a door-to-door salesperson. This is a federal law, but it obviously doesn’t matter much if you can’t get a hold of the company you purchased something from or if it’s declared bankrupt.
If you live in Washington, you have some of the best consumer protections in the country. Still, you should always heed the Washington State Attorney General’s warning: contrary to popular belief, most contracts can’t be canceled once you have signed them. So carefully consider from whom you purchase and where you sign.