Sreedevi Dasari hoped to take advantage of federal grant and loan programs by installing solar panels on her home west of Toronto to save money on her water bill and help the environment.
But now the single mother is without the $3,500 she paid as a down payment on the solar panels.
“I feel like I’m stuck,” said Dasari, who lives in Milton, Ont.
She is one of half a dozen homeowners in Ontario and Alberta who told CBC Toronto they are collectively owed nearly $65,000 they paid for solar installation contracts with Sunwave Inc, a Toronto company that solicited their business through door-to-door sales. Sunwave says it is investigating customer complaints
Customers say sales representatives they dealt with have left the company and calls and emails from Sunwave Inc. homeowners. were not answered.
Dasari signed a $24,700 contract with Sunwave in April to supply and install a solar panel system on the roof of her home. After paying the deposit, Dasari says she was supposed to hand over half of the remaining balance when the final draft was completed in July, but she says that never happened.
“I don’t have anything at the moment,” she said. “So even if I want to go to another company, I have to start from scratch.
Dasari is concerned that restarting the process could affect her eligibility for the Canada Greener Homes Grants and Loan programs, which started last year. Through the programs, homeowners like Dasari could qualify for up to $5,000 for the solar panels they installed and an interest-free loan of up to $40,000 to finance a green retrofit.
Natural Resources Canada administers the programs. The federal department said it has received homeowner complaints about Sunwave and is looking into the allegations.
In a statement, a lawyer for Sunwave told CBC Toronto that the company is aware of its customers’ allegations and is taking their concerns seriously by investigating the complaints with its legal representative.
“We appreciate the patience and cooperation of all customers as we investigate these allegations,” said attorney Carly Waisglass.
A retired couple from Alberta paid $30,000
Heather Robinson’s parents signed a contract with Sunwave in October 2021. The retired couple, who live just outside of Calgary in Chestermere, Alta., have not paid a down payment. Instead, Daniel and Heimke Campbell received a solar panel design a month after signing the contract and then paid $30,300 for it in December.
At that point, Robinson says the company told her parents they would have to wait until the spring for installation. But now, nearly a year after her parents signed the contract, she says no further work has been completed.
“I emailed and called the office every other day and nothing — no response, no call back,” Robinson said.
“I don’t know if they were overwhelmed and couldn’t finish it or what happened, but I hope that’s the case and there’s some way to get something back.”
After CBC Toronto contacted the company, two customers said they received refunds from Sunwave, and Dasari says a former sales representative told her she would receive a refund soon.
But others, like Robinson and Ken Fritz of Kitchener, Ont., received no reassurance.
“They won’t respond to me. I’ve tried everything under the sun to get them,” said Fritz, who paid a $3,500 deposit in March.
He says it’s been a learning experience, and while he still intends to find another company to install solar panels on his roof, he’ll make sure they have references.
“You really need to do your homework.
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