Sunday, 3 February 2013

Caveat Emptor...(Buyer Beware.)

 Geoff offers some very good advice for those considering installing solar panels.

Do seek advice!

My good friend A obtained a quote for the installation of 10 solar panels. I didn't know. The salesman exerted pressure: "Order now because very, very soon the Feed-in Tariff will drop and you will miss out."  He the left the bungalow with a deposit, very happy.

Late, on the installation day agreed, two 'polish gentlemen' arrived at the bungalow with a ladder. They said they didn't need the scaffolding included in the quote and set about about their work - which was completed within the day. (To read the meter the cupboard below the sink has to be emptied).

Later, within days, came a phone call: The installation company, which was situated many miles away, had gone into liquidation! My friend has no certification, no warranties or guarantees - but he does have holes in his roof which need to be repaired. (Since then he's talked to neighbours, who previously had not been asked for advice, about the price he paid and has discovered surprise, surprise that they'd paid a lot less).

My good friend B obtained a quote for the installation of 20 solar panels. The salesman was likeable, knowledgable and very efficient. He the left the house with a signature, very happy.

Installation, including scaffolding, was completed faultlessly by an excellent team. Friend B and Mrs B were delighted.

Then last week came the letter. The installation company, based128 miles away, is in receivership! Because premiums have not been paid there is no insurance, no guarantees etc. You can guess the rest.

Now my installation company, based 28 miles away, included Deposit and Advance Payment Insurance etc., in its quote, carried everything out impeccably and one year later I am remain very happy with everything they did. Had I been asked I would have recommended them to my friends - with advice that they also obtain competitive quotes before making any purchase decision.

Brother-in-law G has also had 10 panels installed without asking for advice (To read the meter the cupboard below the sink has to be emptied). I pray that he's not going to hear from a liquidator or receiver too.

The truth is that many appear not to ask for advice. Could it be that the idea of investing thousands on Solar PV installations creates a guilty feeling that prevents discussion with even good friends? Could it be that renewable energy naysayers are having a negative effect? I don't know, but it's strange really that people who blow thousands on cruises appear to shout about it from the rooftops.

Considering investing in your own installation? Do ask for advice from people who have panels on their roofs, do your research and, I would suggest, select a company reasonably near to you so that, if need be, you can go and bang on their door.
Do you have any experience of good service or bad? 
Please share your stories.

Icarus Twitter: (@solaricarus)

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