Where there’s fresh blood, there’ll be sharks, and like any other industry, Australia’s solar power sector is unfortunately not immune to dodgy scams and fraudulent business operations.
You may be scrolling through Facebook and come across an advertisement for ‘free’ solar panels, receive a telemarketing call enquiring about your energy consumption, or even have someone knock on your door claiming that the government’s solar rebate is about to run out, so you should sign their contract, NOW!
It’s a scary world out there, but here at Red Giant Solar, we’re committed to keeping our customers – as well as the general public – informed about the latest solar scams. We want you to make the best decision possible about the future of your household’s energy generation, so read on to learn three things that you should look out for to avoid falling victim of a solar scam.
⚠️ Be wary of door-to-door salespeople
Doorknocking is an age-old sales technique, but it’s also been a major method for modern scammers to make easy money. We’re not saying that Brenda from down the road who comes by on Sundays selling $5 raffle tickets for St Vincent de Paul is a fraud – certainly not! – but what we are saying is that it is extremely rare for solar retailers to try to make sales door-to-door.
Australia’s Clean Energy Council has confirmed that they never pay visits to potential customers, and most solar retailers would agree that they simply don’t have the manpower to do so. If you do receive an unexpected house visit from someone claiming to sell solar products, then you should take their business card, cross-check their number in the yellow pages, and give them a call later to confirm their authenticity. If they don’t have a card or if the number don’t match – well, there’s your answer.
⚠️ Don’t trust cold callers
Telemarketing is a completely legal marketing industry in Australia, but there are a few things to watch out for. Firstly, if you’re on the Do Not Call Register and still receive a call, then the telemarketer is operating illegally and should not be trusted.
Secondly, be wary of cold callers who are extremely pushy or seem desperate to make a sale. Genuine solar retailers understand that going solar is typically a long, complex process of decision-making, and they will never push you beyond the stage you are ready for – particularly on the first call.
And finally, beware of anyone asking for immediate, over-the-phone payments, particularly ones with high deposits. Some solar scams have been asking for deposits of 50-80%, which is certainly not common industry practice. They’re just looking to pocket more money from you, and sooner rather than later.
⚠️ Keep an eye on your mailbox
Recently, there have been increasing instances of solar scams operating through paper mail. These scammers often send (or, more likely, drop off) a letter explaining that ‘our records indicate that you have not claimed your free health check and service’ or ‘your warranty is about to expire’.
If you don’t recognise the brand logo, if they don’t address you by name, or if something seems a little off, then you have probably been targeted by a solar scammer. Remember the age-old saying: if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.