A report from The New York Times indicates customers with solar panel maker Global Efficient Energy (GEE) claim they were scammed out of nearly $20,000 on promises of major energy savings.
The Texas-based solar panel installer has earned a lot of ill will, according to The NYT, as more than a smattering of GEE customers contacted the Better Business Bureau with complaints about the company.
Customer Chad Gregg of Texas said GEE told him solar panels, while initially expensive, would ultimately save enormous amounts of money on his energy bills. Those promises never materialized, apparently, as Gregg and his family only “saved about $9 a month.”
“The system cost $19,900, which we would pay off in monthly installments over the course of six or seven years,” Gregg told The NYT on Aug. 13.”Once we owned the system outright, the company said, we’d pay next to nothing for energy.”
In fact, “after the company installed solar panels on our roof, solar-powered fans in our attic and a bunch of energy-saving foam and sealants, our electricity bill barely changed,” Gregg said.
Gregg called and emailed the company to vent and ask for a refund on the panels but received no response.
The NYT also pointed out a series of complaints from other customers at the Better Business Bureau website.
“After having the solar panels for two months we have not seen a decrease but rather an increase in our electric bill,” another irate customer wrote. “This experience has been the longest and most frustrating nightmare of our lives.”
Still another claimed doing business with GEE was “the worst financial decision” they ever made, noting also that, “They (the company) will only communicate with you when they want to sign you up for a sale. After spending $25,000 I get on average 20 percent saving in electricity.”
Another person stated that the ramifications of doing business with GEE were “so dire” that they are “considering filing bankruptcy.”
The NYT then reached out to GEE’s chief financial officer, David Noyes, who claimed that Gregg was doing great with his solar panels.
Noyes later claimed in a voice message to The NYT that the issue with Gregg’s system was resolved.
“We’re giving him a full credit for his purchase and in fact buying out his loan,” Noyes said. “We are removing the solar panels and letting him keep the foam insulation. And he’s happy with it.”
Yet the company later said it ended up leaving the solar panels on Gregg’s home. GEE also forced him to sign a confidentiality agreement, thus making it nearly impossible to determine how the issue was ultimately resolved.
The report comes as the solar panel industry financial problems continue to grow.
The hedge fund Gilder Gagnon Howe & Co., for instance, owned 24 percent, or 832,139 shares, of solar panel giant SolarCity at the end of the first quarter of 2016, but that was before they sold off all but 43,840 shares of SolarCity stock at the end of June.
Other solar companies are going bankrupt.
Solar company SunEdison is on the verge of complete collapse, as the company was forced to stiff shareholders as its debts outweigh assets by at least $1 billion.
The company is “hopelessly insolvent,” Judge Stuart Bernstein said in an August 11 decision announcing SunEdison’s shareholders won’t get an official voice in the bankruptcy.
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