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Rogue Trader Alert – Doorstep and telephone cold callers regarding solar panels – 31 January 2018

Norfolk Trading Standards are warning residents with solar panels on their property to be on their guard for doorstep and telephone cold callers which appear to be targeting homes with solar panels.

The cold callers are making a number of claims regarding existing systems, often stating that the company that installed the panels originally have ’ceased trading’ and they have taken over.  The claims have then included:

  • That the solar panel system needs servicing, with charges of up to £600 being made for this ‘service’ which may include cleaning the panels
  • That a ‘warranty check’ or ‘maintenance’ on the panels is required by the new company.  If allowed access to the panels they then attempt to sell ‘add-on’ products such as invertors and battery packs by claiming that further energy savings could be made through purchasing these products or by stating that they have found faulty parts in the existing system.
  • That existing systems need to be ‘assessed’ to ensure they are not ‘at risk of fire’.  If access is allowed the ‘assessor’ will claim that ‘isolator switches’, ‘black boxes’ or other modifications are ‘urgently required to prevent fire’.  Costs for this work are then quoted, in a recent incident a homeowner was told this work would be in excess of £2,000.

Trading Standards advises always be very wary of any approach made in a doorstep or telephone cold call and never agree to services, to having work done or for someone to visit your home if approached in this manner.

Trading Standards also advise that solar panel owners should always talk to their supplier before allowing any work or ‘maintenance’ to take place on their panels.  Generally a solar panel system does not need servicing but it may benefit from being cleaned if the panels are dirty.

Trading Standards also recommends that traders who work on a solar panel system are members of the Solar Trade Association and that any work on the electrics of a solar panel system should be carried out by a qualified electrician.  Suitably qualified electrician can be found on the Norfolk Trusted Trader website or via the Electrical Safety First Website.

If you need advice about doorstep r telephone cold calling or have agreed to a visit during a cold call contact us via our partners the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on their online reporting form or by telephone to 03454 04 05 06.

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