What you need to know about the complaint against Vivint Solar

It’s important to know exactly what Attorney General Hector Balderas identified in the complaint against Vivint Solar, so you can build a better sales team.

REIA-NM recommends all solar companies use the Distributed Generation Disclosure Form mandated through New Mexico law.  The recent case against Vivint Solar should provide you with enough reason to take this extra step to inform your customers.

It’s important to consider the counts brought against Vivint Solar and review your current sales tactics accordingly.  Sometimes company owners may not be clear about what sales people tell customers to get a sale.  Make sure your sales people are trained and reflect your brand appropriately. Check out this summary of allegations against Vivint Solar.  If you have any questions, please contact the NM Attorney General’s Office.

Count One:

Representing goods or services as having characteristics, uses, or benefits that they do not have.  This includes overestimating savings over time, promising unrealistic performance, or asserting your components’ vast superiority over other widely available components.

Count Two:

Disparaging the goods, services, or business of another by false or misleading representations.  AKA, be careful how you talk about competition.

Count Three:

Mislead customers about the price of goods or services, the prices of competitors, or its own price.  This includes overestimating utility increases over time.  Make sure your information is accurate, your math is solid, and all claims are backed by reliable sources.

Count Four:

Using exaggeration, innuendo, or ambiguity about material facts.  Unfortunately, this includes telling customers that their solar will add value to their homes.  Appraisers in New Mexico are still uncertain about the value that solar adds to property.  Again, only use reliable sources to back up claims.

Count Five:

Presenting false representations that transactions involves rights, remedies, or obligations that it does not have.  Don’t tell customers a solar system is an investment if they do not own it. Understand realestate terms like “fixture fittings” when it comes to real estate sales.

Count Six:

The biggest lesson here: don’t engage in unconscionable trade practices.  That means do not create marketing materials that claim solar is “free” or “never pay a utility bill again.”

Count Seven:

Don’t door-knock without a permit!   Doing so without a permit is considered an unfair or deceptive trade practice as defined by the Unfair Trade Practices Act (UPA).

Count Eight:

Executing contracts electronically without providing a fully completed copy to customer is considered unfair or deceptive.

Count Nine:

If you do not adequately inform customers of their right to cancel, and provide them with two copies of your policy, you violate the UPA.

Count Ten:

You can not get consent or agreement from customers to only receive electronic information from your company regarding communication, agreements, documents, notices, records, disclosures, or other information.

Count Eleven:

If the court finds willful use of methods or practices that violate the UPA, the plaintiff may ask for damages as relief.  In this case, $5,000 per offence.

Count Twelve:

False Advertising can be considered word design and statements that reflect any of the previous counts.

Count Thirteen:

All these counts can be considered fraud.  An interesting example from the suit is, “instead of buying your power from coal, you’re getting it all off your roof.”  Be careful how you explain DG to your customers.  If your sales people do not understand the interconnection process, its up to you to train them properly.

Count Fourteen:

Racketeering:  In this case, getting paid after misrepresenting utility rates, true nature of annual escalators, the actual price of the system, etc., qualifies for prison time.

Count Fifteen:

Because of the violations of the UPA, the plaintiff asks that the court declare all contracts null and void.

Count Sixteen:

Due to the alleged abuse, the plaintiff asks that the arbitration agreement (which says that each individual complaint be negotiated independently with / through Vivint only) be voided and unenforceable.

To read the entire complaint, please click here.

If you’re interested in a best practices sales training course, please contact us at executivedirector.reia@gmail.com





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