Beware Solar City in Los Angeles!

Here is a Facebook exchange regarding the VERY recent shenanigans with a company called Solar City. Fair Warning!

This is from my husband:
Earlier this week a representative from Solar City knocked on our door wanting to show us how going solar would save us a lot of money over the years. (We already have solar which they could see on top of our room from the street!) We weren’t interested and sent him on his way. Today a Facebook friend (who lives in Orange County!) posted the following:

“I am on the phone with Solar City. We met with them to hear their pitch and said no thank you. Yesterday, we got a letter from the city saying the building permit had expired and they needed to inspect it or there would be problems. Turns out Solar City pulled a permit. We also got a letter from Solar City saying we needed to sign a notice of cancellation. WTF? Sounds like a scam to me. Talked to the city – told them what happened. I have to send a letter and they will remove it from the books. On the phone with Solar City. They are moving me up their management chain. DON’T DEAL WITH SOLAR CITY FOLKS!”

A friend of his posted the following nightmare:

“On April 29, 2014 in the evening, I had two Solar City salesmen come walking up to me in my front yard. Me being a pretty environmental guy, has always thought about solar for my house and because several of my neighbors already use Solar City I figure I would start asking questions and seeing if it would work for me.

I have a very high end roof so I was not interested in having the system put on the roof of the house. We started talking about alternatives and looked at an out building on the property which is an un-permitted building that has been on the property since the 50′s. The salesmen informed me that the structure has to be permitted and that Solar City could possibly cover the costs to permit the structure so they could get the system in. I informed them I would have to think about it as it would significantly change my property taxes if it were permitted and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that.

The other alternative was for Solar City to rebuild the covered RV parking on the side of the house and put the system on top of that or just place the system on racks in the back yard (which I wasn’t interested in as they would have been right next to my pool), all of which the Solar City salesmen said would need to be assessed by a Solar City technician before anything could be decided.

So the Solar City salesmen and I were talking for a little over an hour and in that process I asked for more information to be sent and I gave them my name and e-mail address. Later the Solar City salesman tells me he will enter my information preliminarily into an account so after the assessment by their Solar City technician, if we decide to move forward, it will already be done. All of this is being done over the hour long discussion on an IPad the Solar City salesman is holding.

At the end of the conversation the Solar City salesman says we really need a Solar City technician to come out and evaluate if we can even set up a system with these unique issues. I agree and decide to set up an appointment for a Solar City technician to come out and assess. The Solar City salesman calls the Solar City appointment scheduler, verifies my name, address and e-mail and that the Solar City technician will come out the next day to see if we can move forward. The Solar City salesman says I have to sign a box on his IPad to give authorization for the Solar City technician to come out and assess. Once I sign I will get a confirmation e-mail. So I sign on the IPad – nothing on the screen except a signature box.

The next day the Solar City technician doesn’t show up in the time identified. He comes an hour later. The Solar City technician tells my wife he didn’t know what time he was suppose to be there. I left before he got there because he was late and I had stuff to do. So later that day I go to the confirmation e-mail from Solar City to see what time it said.

It wasn’t a confirmation e-mail – it was an executed 20 year service contract with my signature on it!

It was completely binding with a three day cancellation clause that I wouldn’t have even opened if the Solar City technician wasn’t late.

Now I’m upset! I immediately email “Customer Care” demanding that the contract be cancelled immediately because it was done under false pretenses and the Solar City salesman lied to me to get my signature. I receive no immediate response.

After reading the 17 page contract I discover there is a formal cancellation procedure. So I have to print the contract, sign all the cancellation documents and overnight the documents by certified mail to the Solar City offices in northern California to make sure it is within the 3 day cancellation window identified in the contract I didn’t know I was signing. Now my interaction with Solar City has taken up several hours of time and has cost me $20 to certify mail the cancellation, again on a contract I didn’t know I was signing.

Your company, Solar City, is dishonest, Solar City salesmen lie to people and are implementing bait and switch tactics to make sales. I was never told anything about a service agreement, it wasn’t mentioned at all!

Finally, 24 hours after my e-mail to Solar City “Customer Care” I receive this response:

Dear *,
I am sorry to hear that you would like to cancel your contract with us at this time. I have alerted your sales representative to this request. You will hear from them shortly.

So “Customer Care” attempts to send me back to the Solar City salesmen that lied to me in the first place.

Here is my immediate reply back to Solar City “Customer Care”.

Please do not have the sales account people contact me, I have no desire to continue to work with sales people that use illegal tactics to attempt to lock in customers. I simply demand that the contract be cancelled immediately.

I have also followed through with the 3 day cancellation procedures identified in the contract, which you should be receiving by certified mail by 3:00 p.m. today. I am now completely irritated and angry by the amount of time and money I have had to put out to fix this.

Your sales people were 100% dishonest, immoral and did something straight up illegal. They should be terminated from your organization.

I have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and added this illegal activity to Yelp so others are not duped into a 20 year agreement unknowingly with an extremely short 3 day cancellation clause and I sent it to the local consumer advocate in television media. I am also looking into filing a complaint with the Contractor’s License Board. I plan to send a letter directly to the CEO to let him know the illegal behavior his employees are implementing to lock in customers.

We never discussed an agreement, I never saw an agreement and I would have never signed an agreement – but I got an electronic one with my signature on it that the salesman obtained through lies and dishonesty.

I have also sought legal council in preparation that this matter does not get resolved immediately.

I hope you are understanding the severity of this situation. Now cancel the contract!

Thank you,

Friday evening, almost 27 more hours, I received a follow up from Solar City “Customer Care” that said this:

Dear *,
Thank you for your email. This is Christina, with Solar City Customer Account Management. I hope that you are having a wonderful day.

Your contract has already been cancelled.

I hope this information helps. If you have any further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reply to this email for further assistance. Thank you and have a good day!

I appreciated getting the confirmation of cancellation but there was nothing from “Customer Care” about how sorry Solar City is regarding my experience or that Solar City doesn’t normally do business this way or that Solar City would investigate the situation. The reality is that Solar City’s “Customer Care” could care less about the situation nor did it seem to worry them that Solar City sales representatives were acting illegally or dishonestly to obtain customers.

Since the May 2, 2014 contract cancellation confirmation, I have gone back to Yelp to review more comments about Solar City. I have discovered many other similar complaints. As a person that runs a business I felt compelled to express my utter disgust and shock at the tactics of the Solar City sales representatives and the sheer disregard for customer value and customer care. Shame on you and your company, Solar City!
Completely irritated.

The general rule is, NEVER do business with anyone soliciting door-to-door. Never do business with anyone soliciting on the phone for home improvements. NEVER! NEVER! NEVER!

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