Summerville- SC Homeowners are likely to see solar panel sales ratchet up in the coming months following the passage of the Energy Freedom Act in May. State regulars warn you to be cautious of deceptive sales practices.
During a solar panels sales training class, one of the participants was so disturbed by what he heard, he started secretly recording the training.
The audio was turned over to state regulators, and News 2 obtained the recording through a Freedom of Information request while investigating solar panel installation companies.
One minute into the recording from an Arres Inc sales training, the instructor coaches the class to dodge questions, especially about cost.
“Anything they say that I don’t want to answer: “That’s a great question and we’re going to get to that,” the man training the class says.
Later in the audio, he tells the class to talk quickly.
“And I talk fast. You have to keep your excitement up.”
When a new instructor takes over, the second instructor tells the class to mislead the customer about their savings after installing the panels to create future sales.
“The first step to a sale is you gotta have a problem. So I’m gonna walk in, and I’m gonna go, ‘Oh my gosh, we didn’t sell them enough panels,” he explained to the class how to react. “Boom! Now I’m gonna sell them another $20,000 deal. I’ll upsell ‘em. I’ve been in the sales industry forever. If I don’t have a problem, I don’t have a deal.”
The Vice President of Arres Inc told News 2 the audio recording isn’t representative of his organization.
“We appreciate Channel 2 for bringing this serious matter to our attention. We take unethical sales practices seriously at Arres. These practices aren’t representative of Arres in any capacity. We have disassociated ourselves from the individual in question and our continued focus will be on ethical representation of the consumer experience. We will also continue to improve our training and policies to prevent future challenges”
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs tells Count on 2 more than 50 percent of the complaints about solar companies this year in South Carolina center around deceptive sales practices.
“What they may look like is they tell you your bill is going down this percentage or the utility companies may be paying you money,” Bailey Parker, the Director of Communication, explained.
Parker says before spending $20,000 or $40,000 on solar panels research the company, get multiple quotes, and check with your utility company about savings and the practicality of solar.
Since the governor signed the Energy Freedom Act into law in May, lifting the cap on solar energy, state regulators worry many companies may push solar harder.
“More people may be hearing about it more than ever. We, as Consumer Affairs, want to make sure people make the best decision. There are people out there who are going to try to take advantage of misinformation,” Parker told News 2.