Solar Panel installation - Offered worse deal than promised

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Hi there,

I paid a deposit on my credit card solar panels in Apr 2022, the day after Rishi Sunak removed VAT from them. It got the batteries and panels down to around £12,500 (12 Sunpower Maxeon 5 panels and a 9.2 battery). The company then went silent but then said the manufacturers had stopped making the Maxeon 5 so all customers would be getting Maxeon 6 panels instead.

Well I'm not complaining.

I didn't hear anything until this week when the sales person called me up, apologised and said that because of various delays they couldn't afford the original quote that I had signed and paid the deposit for. Instead they were prepared to offer Maxeon 3 panels for £14,500 and a battery to come later. I checked these panels out and they don't generate as much as the original panels I ordered. I said I was happy to wait for Maxeon 6 but wouldn't accept a lesser product then what I originally ordered. They said that the company had now removed Maxeon 6 from their inventory as they were proving so difficult to get and didn't take into account the sudden jump in price.

I was wondering what my rights are in this case as I've been offered a lesser product for a higher price despite having signed a contract and paid a deposit on my credit card. Have not paid the full fee but now kicking myself for not going to another company as prices for these panels must be even more now.

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  • ABrass
    ABrass Posts: 1,004 Forumite
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    Tell them that it's a breach of contract and you won't be going forward at that price and you're looking into your legal options.

    Assume they're going to refund you and look elsewhere.
    8kW (4kW WNW, 4kW SSE) 6kW inverter. 6.5kWh battery.
  • uk1
    uk1 Posts: 1,839 Forumite
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    edited 1 October 2022 at 12:11PM
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    If you received a “quotation” and not an “estimate” and you paid the deposit then you have a “contract”.  However your challenge is enforcing the contract.  This isn’t always as easy as many think.

    Your approach if you had a quotation might be (a) remind them that their supply problems are their problems and not your problem once you had agreed to their offer and paid the deposut that they either have a choice between fulfilling the contract as signed or (b) providing and fitting better components after receiving your consent for the changes at no additional charge.  Another way of putting this is that if they had proceeded with getting all the components and arriving at your house and you had decided not to proceed then they would have rightly told you that you had to go ahead with the installation and if you didn't you'd have to pay anyway.  Contracts are not one-sided which is what your installers are really saying.
    However the world is imperfect.  So you are where you are.
    So, if that fails then you are faced with either taking them to court which I would advise against.  It isn’t worth the aggravation and stress and is unlikely to “fully resolve” the issue or perhaps even partially.  

    You would therefor need to choose from some options but my suggestion is assert your rights as above and then if that fails offer them a compromise.  Suggest that without prejudice to any future assertion of your legal rights that you are prepared to find a compromise way through this and make and accept a small additional payment for a worthwhile improvement to the PV array.  Suggest that they upgrade them but only charge the cost to them of the difference between the original ones and the new ones ie make no profit from the upgrade but their profit remains exactly as it was.  They should not benefit from their breach of contract. 

    This isn’t an ideal solution but might be the best practical one that you can achieve.

    Let us know what you decide and how it turns out.  Good luck. 
  • faq
    faq Posts: 5 Forumite
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    Thanks very much for this advice.

    I informed them that I can afford to wait until Oct 2023 for Maxeon 6 if there is a supply problem (I took out a 2 year fixed energy deal last year and boy, is that paying off now) and willing to pay slightly higher but I won't accept a lower spec product. They promised to come back to me so now let's wait and see.

    Taking them to court appears counter-productive if they just can't get the items on time and all we're tussling over is a hundred quid deposit.
  • faq
    faq Posts: 5 Forumite
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    Sadly the sales person at the company has said that they cannot supply the Maxeon 6 panels and its either a refund or what they're offering on the table.

    They didn't give a reason why they're not willing to wait until they get in stock.

    Clear breach of contract and also will cost me additional money to source these panels from elsewhere now.
  • Magnitio
    Magnitio Posts: 953 Forumite
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    If you are willing to wait until October next year, you may find that the market has calmed down and/or supply has caught up with demand.
    6.4kWp (16 * 400Wp REC Alpha) facing ESE + 5kW Huawei inverter + 10kWh Huawei battery. Buckinghamshire.
  • uk1
    uk1 Posts: 1,839 Forumite
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    edited 2 October 2022 at 6:30PM
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    faq said:
    Sadly the sales person at the company has said that they cannot supply the Maxeon 6 panels and its either a refund or what they're offering on the table.

    They didn't give a reason why they're not willing to wait until they get in stock.

    Clear breach of contract and also will cost me additional money to source these panels from elsewhere now.
    It is breach of contract, but if you tried to enforce it then they would say that they were unable to complete the contract for “reasons outside of our (their) control” and therefore offered you “reasonable” alternatives but you refused.   Whether a court would be sympathetic to their argument is not clear cut.  It simply isn’t worth litigation pursuing imho. 

    Your best bet is to cut your losses and push on. I suggest you consider the options I suggested above and you might even come out a little ahead if you get a bit better system at a small incremental cost.  Good luck. 
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