Being faced with reading pages of contractual terms and conditions (T&C’s) can be a daunting task. It is important that you do not sign any solar energy system contract without thoroughly understanding how it may impact you. T&C’s are put in place to outline the obligations of two or more parties. It is also a common way for companies to hide hidden extras, potentially costing you thousands of dollars.
A tactic that some salespeople use is to create a sense of urgency around losing “special discounts” if you do not sign a contract right away. These bait and trap techniques could see you signing a contract containing T&C’s which are against your interest. If your state does not offer cooling-off-periods, you could find yourself in a situation with no way out.
To assist you in understanding the potentially complex world of solar contract T&C’s, we have compiled the top clauses to look out for when reviewing your solar contract.
Where are the T&C’s in your solar contract?
Be sure that before you sign your solar energy contract, you ask to view the company’s T&C’s. You may have seen the clause “view our website for full T&C’s,” and found them tucked away in some obscure place. Some companies may not even provide you with their T&C’s at all unless you ask for them specifically.
Instead of including the full T&C’s in the contract, it is common for a clause to be included in lieu of this. The clause will state that you have been provided with, or have read and understood the T&C’s. Even if you have never seen them before, by signing the contract, you will be considered to have received and understood them.
Ask your solar provider to provide you with their full T&C’s before you sign any contract. Ensure that you take the time to thoroughly read and understand what each clause means. If you have any questions, always clarify them in writing with your solar company or seek legal advice.
The installation contractor is liable for damage or defect in the installation
If you see a clause like this, it has the effect of passing liability onto an outside contractor if any damage or defect that occurs in your installation. These types of terms can be an issue for two reasons. Firstly, if a problem does arise from the installation, the solar company is not obligated to correct the problem or assist you. As a result of signing the contract, you have agreed that the contractor is liable.
Secondly, unless the contractor is a party to the original contract, there is no binding contractual obligations placed on them. If a problem does arise, it will be almost impossible to enforce the contract against the contractor. As a result, you will be liable to pay for any damages or defects yourself. Check that your solar company has provided written warranties within their contract for all installation and associated works.
If quoted products are not available, your solar company reserves the right to replace with equal products
As you know, a solar energy system is a long-term investment. The vast majority of people will conduct extensive research into which components they want to be installed on their homes.
If you see a clause similar to this; beware! These sorts of T&C’s allow your solar company to replace your chosen solar components with any product of their choice. And as you may have guessed, the solar company is the one who decides what an “equal product” is.
Be sure that you specify, in writing, any alternative products you are willing to have installed in the situation where your chosen products are unavailable.
What is a standard installation?
A common phrase you may come across in many solar companies T&C’s is the term ‘standard installation.’ Your roof may look ‘standard’ to you, but there are some installation complexities to consider which may impact on your written quote.
A ‘standard installation’ for many solar companies typically means that:
- the installation will occur within a certain distance from the company’s business premise;
- your roof is a single story with a pitch is between 20 and 45 degrees; and
- the property’s electrical panel or meter does not require an upgrade.
It is standard and fair for solar companies to charge extra for more complex and challenging installations. This is due to the additional costs involved to ensure your solar installation in completed safely.
You should look for companies who are open and transparent about these additional charges. They should identify and advise you of these extras before you sign any contract. This way you will be fully informed of the full cost of your installation before you proceed.
The solar company wants to limit its liability to $100
Alarm bells should ring in your mind loudly if you see a similar clause in your solar company’s T&C’s. By signing a contract agreeing to limit your solar company’s liability to such a small amount, they will only ever be liable to pay you this amount should anything go wrong.
If for example, your roof tile is damaged during the installation which resulted in water damage to your ceiling. Your solar company would only be liable to pay you $100 for the associated repair work under this type of clause. You are going to be left covering any shortfall in this situation.
Put it in writing
Depending on your state laws, you should never rely on emails or conversations to form part of your solar contract. Any promises, agreements or arrangements offered by your solar company must be put in writing, on your contract and co-signed by all parties.
Never take a salesperson “word for it”; they may not have the authority to make those agreements with you. It will end up in a game of he-said-she-said which is a very stressful situation to find yourself. Make it your hard and fast rule that if you do not have it in writing, you do not sign the contract.
At OneClickSolar.com you will never find these sorts of ‘dodgy’ clauses in our solar contracts. You can trust us to provide you with an honest, no pressure, transparent sales approach and a willingness to offer you assistance every step of the way.