Five ways to avoid the solar sharks!
Posted by Gabby Mallett on 16 June 2015 at 10:35 am
It used to be double glazing that was renowned for dodgy salesmen. Now some of the techniques they used are being kept alive by companies selling renewable energy technologies.
There are plenty of totally trustworthy companies out there, you can find many of them in our ‘find a…’ section, but here are a few of the techniques that might warn you that you’re dealing with a dodgy one.
- They drop unaddressed marketing material through your door, saying that they are looking for houses in your area to install cut price systems in return for their using pictures of it in their marketing material or putting an advertising sign on your property.
- They won’t make an appointment to survey your house unless your husband / wife / partner / co-decision-maker is also present and you have three hours to spare (this one particularly annoys me as I am quite capable of making a decision on an investment without my husband’s say so).
- They refuse to give you a price until they’ve worn you down with plenty of impressive-sounding statistics about performance (many of which you probably don’t understand). And when they do give you a price it’s about twice the market rate.
- They offer you a discount (on their outrageously high price), but only if you sign up now and / or display their advertising, or better still you can get a discount if you recommend others who then go on to buy.
- It feels as if they won’t leave your house until they’ve got you to sign (remember if you sign something in your home you have an legal right to a 14 day cooling off period).
The best ways to make sure that you’re getting a reputable company are to:
- Use our site to find an installer with good recommendations. Ask them if you can talk to previous customers. A quality installer will always be happy for you to do this; they have nothing to hide.
- Get a minimum of three quotes. If it is difficult to compare them, call the installer back and ask them to explain why they are recommending something different (perhaps a different sized system or a different manufacturer). Don’t just go on price. Look at what is included and what isn’t.
- Never sign up on the day the salesman visits. You can even tell them that when you make the appointment. Again a good installer will happily leave you to consider this large purchase in your own time. Though do note that you may have to accept a quote within a time limit. This is because the cost of materials etc may change, so it is a reasonable requirement by the installer.
- Ask what their maintenance, warranty and insurance policies are. Ask what happens if something goes wrong. What customer aftercare do they have? Quality installers want to do a good job and want you to recommend them in the future; they want to make you happy.
- Check whether they are members of their local Buy with Confidence scheme, accredited with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, or the Renewable Energy Consumer Code RECC. Do check though; don’t assume that because it’s on their marketing materials it has to be true!
Photo: Angela Cockayne
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