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Uncovering Concerning Sales Tactics in Portland, Oregon: Don't Sign ANYTHING at the table!

UPDATE - 11/7/2023:

The latest shady tactic is this:

Salesman: Sign Here and we'll see if you "Qualify"... And if you DON'T qualify, we'll only charge you an "inspection fee" for our time.

The Catch: You've just signed a binding contract that you only have 72 hours to get out of. You've also agreed to pay an undisclosed amount of money to the contractor if you don't "qualify" for their loan and can't pay cash/out of pocket for the project. To us, the major concern is the lack of transparency on the "inspection fee": How much is it? How many man hours were you billed for? Did they charge you for electricians to inspect the home? Will the fee be SO high that you can't afford to NOT do the project? Will paying the fee forever put a bad taste in your mouth about the rest of our industry? LITERALLY NOTHING GOOD CAN COME FROM SOMETHING LIKE THIS.

Further - what does qualify mean? Did your salesman explain the lender's terms to you before you signed their contract? Was "debt-to-income" ratio explained before they had you apply? Continuing reading our article Uncovering Concerning Sales Tactics in Portland, Oregon: Don't Sign ANYTHING at the table to learn more!

Please do not fall for this one. You will end up either doing business with a less-than-ethical company because you can't afford to waste the money on their undisclosed "inspection fee" and you'll resent the fact that you paid more to them (than you would have with us). And finally - yes - you could potentially take them to court for their undisclosed fee and unscrupulous closing tactics, but in the end - the lawyers are the only ones who win here. MAYBE the state catches them and fines them for illegal trade practices - but it will cost YOU a lot of money to prove it.

In addition, in the last six months, we have been getting calls from customers who are sharing stories about our local peers in the industry that really have me concerned.

You see – I know for certain now that today’s companies aren’t cut from the same stuff that companies that started 15-20 years ago are. They don’t have the same requirements we had to have in order to participate in certain state funded programs like Energy Trust of Oregon or the Oregon Department of Energy’s programs.

When we started our solar adventure, we realized very quickly that getting the state certs wasn’t just a matter of showing up to a mini-convention, signing the paperwork, and getting listed as a “qualified” company.


In fact – we were trained (by some of the best in the industry – who have gone on to have successful national careers) to analyze the customer’s needs. We had to pass tests – decently hard tests. And then we had to pass rigorous onsite inspections from these agencies to get the sign-off on our work so that the customer could collect their promised discounts. If we didn’t pass, we had to eat the loss or fix what was wrong. It was just that simple.

But first and foremost – we had to determine if they were “solar ready” (a term regularly used by ETO and ODOE back in the day).


Well – candidly -it’s because solar was WAY more expensive 15 years ago that it is today. The local incentives helped – but relative to today’s pricing, we were considerably more expensive. I often told my customers (back then and again today) that “you gotta want it” (meaning that financially – it would eventually pencil out, but that date was a few years out – just like today).

So, what was “solar ready” 15 years ago? Well, it was my job to interview the potential customer and take a “deep dive” into their homes and businesses to see if there were any other energy saving options available to them that would lower their annual use.

You see, DPI Solar was (and still is) a company that only wanted to sell you the solar you NEEDED – and we always try to look at other things during our first visit that we could suggest to you that might make your electric bill smaller (by replacing older appliances/hvac units/windows/add insulation to your attic or crawl space). If you did these things, we knew that your electric bill could and would be less. Which in turn made it more likely that the expensive endeavor you were considering would be less expensive because your usage wouldn’t justify the same size system (as it would without doing the other things first).

“Solar-Ready” for us meant we were going to sell you the least amount of solar that you need to achieve your goals.

So…the start of this meandering mess of words indicates that I’ve seen and heard some things recently that concern me – because customers are being bullied, taken advantage of, lied to, deceived, or just out-right swindled.

Story #1: A customer wants us to add battery backup to his solar installation (one that he paid $80,000 for).

We did NOT sell him his original installation.

And here’s where it gets awful: he was told to “just sign here to get the onsite evaluation from the company started”

Unfortunately, the “sign here to get the site survey started” line turned out to be a contract – that he failed to read – and that he did in fact sign – for a VERY overpriced solar installation that was supposed to include the battery backup with it.

Guess what? He tried to get out of the contract, but he waited too long: in Oregon, you have a 3-day right of rescission that allows you to cancel any contract. Wait too long? You’re stuck.

And that’s what happened here: he waited too long, found out the “site survey” was the first step of an installation he had agreed to (regardless of the fact that he was told by the sleazy salesperson that it was only to “see if he qualified” for a permit). And now he has a solar array that doesn’t have all of the promised equipment – nor will it ever. That's right: They took him for $80k and he didn't even get the battery backup he was promised.

He got swindled. Plain and simple.

Story #2: Another customer sends us a nice rejection to our bid, stating that the other guys really convinced her that the solar panels they were selling we FAR superior to anything else on the market (not to mention that these panels were also involved in saving baby seals and dolphins while simultaneously being encoded with the formula to cure cancer).

Ok..ok…I may have slightly exaggerated that last part.

But here’s the irony: the solar panels she was convinced to purchase are the same brands and models we offer in our own workbook.

And here’s what I’d have to say about these panels to her: “Yes – they’re great! As a contractor and electrician who’s been around solar panels for nearly 20 years, I do think that their marketing is good, but in general, the products themselves are not significantly different from any of the other panels we have on our offering list”

I’d then go on to ask her what’s important to her insomuch as the product is concerned. Mainly because there’s not a product in our offering list right now that isn’t excellent – including the one that she purchased. They are all backed by solid companies that have successfully ridden (and survived) the “solar coaster” over the years.

In my opinion – you’ll find products in our list that are (again – my opinion) over-priced and brand-name priced, but in no way, shape, or form significantly different from the next module in the lineup with similar output and specs. You’ll also find other products in our list that are fantastic options with lower price points that yield as much (or sometimes more) power per year than the higher priced products in our list. In the end, we want to be able to offer you a variety of options – and give you the tools to make the right choice.

But in no way, shape or form – and I say this with CONVICTION – is there a product on the market today that absolutely produces significantly more power (ie: 10% or more) than anything we’re currently offering. What’s that mean to you? It means that we have options from all of the top manufacturers at a variety of price points that will help you achieve your goals.

Will any of our products cure cancer? Nope. And they won’t save baby dolphins or seals either. But with the right information, we can help guide you to a product that is backed by a high-caliber manufacturer with a warranty that is the same (or better) than most/all other products on the market.

Summary: don’t get sold on a more expensive product when there’s something else on the market from a larger, more established manufacturer that has the same or better warranty – for less money.

I make you this solemn promise: I got into this biz because I wanted to offer our customers solar for a fair price (as opposed to other salespeople romanticizing what we do).

In the end – this is electrical work and we’re selling and installing electrical equipment. And as a (first and foremost) electrician, I believe that there should be some standardization to this industry. And I know for a fact that we (here at DPI Solar) have made a lot of impact on our market to do just that.

We watch, year after year, new (and established) companies go out and buy jobs at a discount to the customer, only to close their doors months later because they can’t pay their employees or their vendors. And inevitably – we get the call to come out and fix what they left un-fixed (or unfinished).

So I implore you: do your diligence on the product and the team you’re partnering with. If their price seems too good to be true – then undoubtedly – there’s a catch somewhere. It might be that the warranty you were so convinced of no longer exists – because the company backing it is long gone – shuttering their doors and leaving you without support. It might be the unfortunate fact that they promised to install a product they aren’t authorized to install (yes – we still have to go through a process to be able to offer you battery backup as well as certain other products like high-performance electrical panels). You may end up swindled. You may end up over-sold and under-delivered.

Or you might end up getting exactly what you were promised. And the only company I can assure delivers on all fronts is DPI Solar. We’ve been around longer – because we keep our promises.

Until next time…


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