Choosing to use renewable energy is a rewarding and beneficial investment on your home.  Unfortunately, the solar sales experience isn’t always a positive or easy process for homeowners. Buyer beware!  There are companies out there (solar and otherwise) who utilize high pressure techniques and methods.  In fact, recently I fell prey to similar tactics at a local gym.  That experience served as inspiration for this week’s post, as I can relate it for homeowners on the quest for a solar electric system.  Here are some tips to help consumers identify and avoid these tactics when shopping around for solar.

#1 Homeowners: Do Your Homework

Back in June of 2013, I posted Tips for a Great Solar Installer Experience, in which I discussed an important first step – knowledge & research.  Only invest in a product that you understand, and be clear on services that are proposed, equipment, warranties, and costs.  Know what you want before you look for it.  In other words, make purchasing decisions before talking to a salesperson.  Do not allow yourself to be rushed to make a decision without talking to other knowledgeable professionals in the solar industry.  Don’t be afraid to shop around and check references.  The biggest sales lead for installers is referrals, so ask around to find out which company is ethical and fair.

#2  Watch for Red Flags

If you are shopping for solar with a partner or spouse, beware of salespeople who are employing sneaky tactics.  For example, it is not unheard of salespeople appealing to one partner over the other. If the salespeople present a deadline (that is not related to a federal/local tax or grant opportunity),  keep in mind that this is a high-pressure tactic and walk away.  Deadlines are designed to force you into a sale before you have had time to thoughtfully consider the purchase.  Ask to take the contract home and even ask your accountant for advisement.  Does the company you are thinking of going with have a workmanship guarantee?  Also, always as for referrals…   it is no coincidence that most solar sales are leads from personal referrals.

#3  Listen to Your Gut

If you are experiencing any doubt, remember high-pressure sales are all about manipulation.  If you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or hurried, then take a step back.  High-pressure sales tactics are based on manipulation.  Remember, its ok to walk away.  Sometimes in the heat of the moment, we are susceptible to making decisions we may regret.  And solar will still be there tomorrow.

Unethical sales tactics are employed by people who make bonuses or commission from the sale, and are driven by that fact.  When you start to feel like “just another sale” then it is time to step back.  At this point, as a homeowner and customer, you should be forming a relationship and partnership, based on trust, with your solar installer.  If it doesn’t feel that way, then take a moment to reflect before signing a contract.

If a company is engaging in unfair or deceptive sales tactics, you can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.  Have you experienced high pressure tactics?  Comment below, I’d love to hear your stories.