Solar Customers Being Lied To And Threatened

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4th December 2009, 04:30pm - Views: 2685

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MEDIA RELEASE: December 4, 2009



Solar energy company Sunsavers says customers around the country are being bullied and

threatened if they try to move away from the initial provider they contacted to “apply” for the

Federal Government’s $8000 solar rebate, even though they have every legal right to choose

another provider to install their solar systems.

Sunsavers General Manager Brad Branch, says he’s been horrified by complaints from customers

who attempted to switch to Sun Savers, when it recently ran a campaign offering a $1000 rebate

for new customers.

“The legislation makes it very clear that customers have the option of switching if they find a

better deal or a service provider who suits their needs better,” he said.

“Of course, consumers also have every right to stay with their initial contact if they’re happy with

their service.”

Mr Branch said he was very concerned that consumers were being lied to and misled in an

increasingly competitive solar market.

“Over the past six months the price of solar panels has decreased.  The decrease is due to improved

technologies, the increased availability of high grade silicone, the global financial crisis and the

strong Australian dollar,” he said.

“This means, that where the $8000 used to cover part of a 1kw system price, it is now able to cover

all of it and that’s where the juggling for customers has begun in earnest.”

“One Victorian customer reported being threatened by a company who told him if he switched

away from them, he wouldn’t get his rebate,” said Mr Branch, “The company also said they’d report

that the customer wouldn’t allow access to the property and so the rebate couldn’t be transferred.”

Mr Branch said other customers who’ve tried to terminate their contracts with various companies

had been told ...

Sunsavers was contravening the Trade Practices Act (legal opinion says not) 

. That the Federal Rebate cannot be transferred from suppliers (factually incorrect)

. That they (initial providers) have the right to install the panels until July 2010 – (Incorrect, the

rebate belongs to the applicant (the customer) not the company.)

People Feature SUNSAVERS 2 image


“The important point is that customers do have a choice.  Right up until they have their panels

installed, they are able to choose or change their provider. But there is a growing number of

anecdotal reports of more and more customers being misled about their rights in relation to

finalising a solar provider,” said Mr Branch. “The facts need to be told.”

Sunsavers is a reputable “no frills” national supplier, which given the strength of its buying power –

and the fact that it is internet based and has no retail shopfront costs - calculate that they can supply

reputable, high quality units to customers at significantly discounted rates. In a recent promotion,

Sun Savers offered new customers a $1000 gift card as a rebate. That promotion ended on

November 30, 2009.

“We’re not out there touting for work,“ said Mr Branch. 

“But customers need to be aware that not all solar systems are equal and neither are all solar

providers. So they need to – and have the right to – shop around.

“Our industry doesn’t need operators who mislead and intimidate consumers in a desperate grab for

their cash.”  



The Solar Homes & Communities Program (SHCP) ended on the June 18, 2009 and in October the

Department of Environment, Heritage, Water and Arts finalised, approved and released the

remaining 60,000 successful rebate applications onto the market.

Each applicant received a letter advising them on their approval.  The letter with the rebate is

marked to the attention of the home owner.  

The home owner now has the option of either staying with their original industry contact, or

transferring the rebate over to an installer who they feel will deliver better value / product /


In some instances, this “may” be the installer that completed their paperwork, in other instances

customers may choose to shop around and see if there is a better deal on the market, as outlined

on the department’s website. 

Ie ...– “The Department allows applicants to switch installers provided the installer is accredited.

Once a system is installed by the nine month expiry date, you and the applicant must complete and

submit an installation report within eight weeks. An installation report is sent with the pre-approval

letter and also available for download on the Receiving your rebate page."

Some rebate holders may have paid a deposit with a company.  Depending on the contract with

that company, some or all of that deposit may be refunded upon cancellation.


SunSavers: General Manager Brad Branch: 0413 748 313

Media Contact: Leigh McClusky, McClusky & Co PR and Communications 0411 711 780


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