Where there is money to be made, scammers are rife. There is a lot of money changing hands in the renewable energy industry. Solar power is a fast-growing industry with an increasing number of people wanting to gain more knowledge. Most homeowners that decide to go solar have little to no knowledge about what to expect. These are perfect conditions for scammers to take advantage of. It is well worth it to arm yourself with information as to how to avoid these scammers.
Be wary of high-pressure sales tactics
Buying a solar system, or any components for a solar system is a big investment. Comparing and researching is essential, so companies trying to bully you into a commitment immediately should be avoided. One of the primary strategies of high-pressure tactics is trying to convince the homeowner that there is some kind of timeline for the offer they are making. Never sign with the first company you contact just because they have a good salesperson. If the salesperson asks for an upfront fee for any services, it is likely to be a scam.
Keep an eye out for people posing as government or utility workers
Some scammers pose as a representative of government or utility companies. They promise high discounts or paybacks that in reality don’t exist. These claims should always be checked, and asking for identification is essential. There are legitimate companies that can show the consumer why things cost as much as they do and what paybacks you can expect. These professionals will tell you if you are being scammed or not. It is very important to yet again not sign anything on impulse.
A few years back, Eskom sent out a warning to consumers that a company supplying solar water heating systems are using fraudulent marketing schemes, pretending that they are from Eskom or the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa. They would offer to do a “free energy assessment” to help you make your home more energy sufficient. After doing such an inspection they will communicate that purchasing a solar water heating system only supplied by their company is the way forward.
Before signing any contract or committing to any work done, look at references for the company being used. See what others that made use of the same company have to say, their reviews should paint a good picture of their reputation. Having a look at the company’s track record is valuable information. See if they have an actual physical address and if their website is legitimate. The internet and social media have opened a whole new platform for scam artists. A genuine official website won’t have spelling or grammar errors, the website domain will also not differ from the name of the company.
Stock fraud is also an issue. With going solar becoming ever more popular, it is a great idea to buy stock and investing in solar energy. Scammers will hype your prospects, sell you stock, and promptly disappear with your money. This happened in Australia and South Africa in 2011.
Look for warranties guaranteed in your contract
If the company provides warranties – a performance and equipment guarantee – and stipulates it in the contract you sign, they tend to be legitimate. It is a legally binding contract and the details of it should be paid close attention to. It is important to make sure that the warranty covers what has been promised by the salesperson.
- Never provide personal details over the phone or via email unless you trust the other party or initiated the contact.
- Find an honest and reputable company to assist you through the process.
- If you think you’ve been scammed, inform the police, your bank, the government, and any other entities involved
Thank you for reading this article. If you feel we have left out any important information or would like to contribute to this site and content, please get in touch with us by leaving a comment or emailing us.
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