What exactly is a workmanship warranty you may ask?

As a consumer, you need to be aware of misleading claims of extended workmanship warranties. The first mistake that people make is to simply accept at face value an advertisement with a claim of 10 or 12 years workmanship warranty without asking to see any written contract that proves it.

So how do you check if the stated workmanship warranty is legit?

The truth is you will only know for sure if you can see it clearly stated on a written contract. If it’s not clear, then you need to ask the supplier the right questions.

The first question to ask is straightforward. What does the workmanship warranty cover? There are hundreds of components to a solar installation. As a consumer you want a workmanship warranty to cover everything imaginable. In simple terms, if there is a problem (any problem), then you need to be able to call the company that sold you the solar system and request a complimentary call out inspection – and for that inspection to happen promptly. The only way a consumer will know if they have legal cover is to see it stipulated honours trade contract. If it is not mentioned in the contract – YOU ARE NOT COVERED. If you have not been given a trade contract, YOU ARE NOT COVERED. In these circumstances, you have fallen victim to false advertising, and you probably have ‘very limited’ workmanship warranty cover.

But you need more than just the terms of trade contact to reference the warranty period. You need the contract to stipulate what is covered and what is not. Don’t fall into the trap of asking the solar company to verify over the phone what is or is not included. If it’s not written into the contract or you don’t have it in writing, then the verbal confirmation is no more than hearsay should you ever end up in court or if you involve Fair Trading.

The second and most important question to clarify with the solar retailer is who is honoring the workmanship warranty? We have seen a major national solar retailer claim or offer a 12 yr workmanship warranty on TV. We asked them to verify who honors the warranty, them or their subcontracted installer? – the answer was the subcontractor. Now in this situation, we knew who was the local contracted solar installer for this well known national solar company, so we asked him what workmanship warranty he was obligated to offer the retailer under his contract? The answer was 12 months! Looks like 11 years of warranty has just vanished into thin air!

This real situation is playing out right now by at least two major solar retailers that we know of.

As a consumer you can then be highly exposed to financial risk because:

a) there is no certainty that you are covered for the fault or issue.
b) at best you are only covered for 12 months rather than 12 years.
c) the most significant risk is that should the retailer shut their door and disappear, you won’t have any warranty!

So what can you do?

Three things will help cover you;

a) Ask for the solar retailer to put it in writing what your workmanship warranty period is, what it covers and who honours it. Don’t accept the answers over the phone or by text. You need it in writing and for it to come from a senior manager not from the sales rep.
b) If the solar retailer says that the contractor is responsible for honouring the workmanship warranty, ask for a copy of the installation contract issued to the contractor or get something in writing from the contractor indicating their period of cover.
c) Get a contact name and number for the installer.

If you really want to cover yourself against misleading or false advertising, do yourself a favour and trade only with a CEC Approved Solar Retailer.

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