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Solar Panel Problems, Contractor Woes | Ask Anthony for advice

First Coast News Anchor Anthony Austin was at Jacksonville's Home and Patio show for an "Ask Anthony" listening session.

Lori Penuel paid thousands of dollars for solar panels from a company based in Texas.  

"The sales pitch was it's going to save on my electric and it's going to help me. But unfortunately, my electric bill is more.  I don't see any savings and everything they promised me was a lie, including the price," Penuel explained.

The Jacksonville woman says the solar panels don't work properly and they're actually making her monthly bill higher. 

"I had to take the money out of my retirement fund, which upsets me, because I'm three years from retirement to pay this off. Between my electric and solar payment, it's over $500 a month and I can't do it," Penuel added. 

She says the salesperson seemed like someone who could be trusted.  But, Penuel believes the woman wasn't telling the truth and was just trying to make a quick sale. 

"She sat in my house and told me this, this, and this...to find out it was all a lie. She acted like we were going to be best of buddies and friends. Everything she told me was a lie," Penuel said. 

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 Better Business Bureau
  • Get quotes from multiple installers and inquire about warranties

Marine Veteran John Jimmerson hired a local contractor to do work at his home. The contractor's price was cheaper than the rest. 

"He said he could do everything I wanted, including installing windows throughout the whole house, as well as the whole kitchen for the price. It sounded good and I hired the guy," Jimmerson explained. 

Jimmerson says the contractor's work looks terrible and he didn't finish the job. Now, he's left with an expensive mess.  

"I paid him basically 98 percent of what I owed him...about $50,000. He won't answer texts and I've tried to call him.  He's still in the area. I guess. But I can't get a hold of him," Jimmerson said. 

Before you hire a contractor: 

  • Ask for references about the services performed and if the contractor stuck to the estimated budget and completion date.  
  • Always verify license and insurance. Once you have that information, call the insurance company to confirm appropriate coverage, such as property damage. 
  • Arrange a payment schedule.  Never pay in full up front. Stagger your payments so your final payment is not due until the work is complete and you have fully inspected it.

We are working on helping Penuel and Jimmerson get their money back.  We will keep you updated.  

Remember, if you have a problem you just can't solve, you can always email AskAnthony@firstcoastnews.com 

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