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Ask Anthony: Solar panel problem stressing out disabled veteran in Jacksonville

Monique Bates purchased solar panels from a local company in January. She paid $50,000 and says she's had problems since the beginning.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Like most of us, Monique Bates is trying to save a few extra bucks. In January, she purchased solar panels to lower the cost of her electric bill.  

"Some guys were walking through the neighborhood and asked if I would be interested in getting solar panels and I said...sure," Monique Bates explained. 

Bates paid $50,000 for the solar panelsIt was money she considered an investment, but even from the beginning, she had problems. 

Bates said the panels were installed at the beginning of the year but weren't fully operational until August. 

According to a work order, Bates purchased the solar panels from a company called USA Energy Savers and she was given a 30-year warranty. 

She says she found out the warranty was invalid.

"They say they're not doing business with them, and they shouldn't be out here selling policies," Bates said. 

The warranty is through a company called Solar Insure.  The only company I could find with that name is based in California. 

I spoke with a customer service representative online named Charlie. He told me he remembered helping Monique when she called to ask questions about the warranty she received from USA Energy Savers.  

The representative said in his message... "At the very top of it, you can see the name as R Solar Insure and not Solar Insure. Furthermore, that is not our company logo."  

According to Monique's paperwork, the solar panel company acknowledged there was an issue with the warranty, and they were going to send her a copy of the new one. But, she says, she never received it.  

Bates is a disabled veteran on a fixed income.

"I can't just come out of my pocket for some solar panels if something happens to them. So, that's why that warranty is important," Bates responded. 

After doing some research, I discovered USA Energy Savers has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau.  

According to state business documents, the owner, Chris Redman, filed paperwork in August 2021 to change the name. It's now called R Solar Group with addresses in Jacksonville and South Carolina.  

I tried to call a cell phone number I was given for Redman, but no one answered. So, I called the number listed for R Solar Group. An employee answered the phone and told me someone would call me back.  

No one ever did.  

I looked up the company's address and paid them a visit.  We spoke with a woman who said she worked for R Solar Group. She said the owner was in a meeting and couldn't speak with us. 

This employee told us they would answer our questions if we scheduled an appointment. I called two phone numbers provided by that employee. No one has called me back. 

As for Bates, she just wants what she paid for.

"Those panels were $50,000, that's a huge investment and I need to have a valid warranty for them," Bates said. "I need to have what the company promised me. That's all I want."

We have been trying to contact R Solar Group since Oct.7. That's when the first phone call was made. 

Just three hours before the story aired, we called the owner.  It went straight to voicemail twice. 

We called two numbers for the company. Both are now disconnected. We have contacted the State Attorney General's office about this company.  

Some information from the Better Business Bureau before you purchase solar panels:

  • Ask for referrals and research local installers. Read customer reviews and check out the company's business rating with the BBB. 
  • Get quotes from multiple installers. At least three. 
  • Inquire about warranties.  A reputable company will offer you an equipment warranty, usually lasting 10 to 12 years and a performance warranty that should last up to 25 years. 

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