Compensation for consumers misled by solar company (Polaris Solar Pty Ltd)
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Two elderly caravan park residents have been awarded $9,425 in compensation and a solar company fined $30,000 after they were misled regarding approvals for the installation of solar panels at their park home.
Polaris Solar Pty Ltd (in liquidation), formerly of Landsdale, was fined by the Fremantle Magistrates Court in relation to two charges of making false and misleading representations in breach of the Fair Trading Act. The compensation order was made for the losses incurred by the residents who had relied on the false representations in making the decision to purchase the solar panels. The company was also ordered to pay Court costs of $2,746.
In May 2010, the two residents of the Woodman Point Holiday Park in Munster entered into a contract with Polaris Solar to install a “grid-connected” solar panel system at their home on the basis that the company would arrange approvals from the park management and Synergy. However, the panels were installed in July 2010 without the approvals being obtained.
It wasn’t until the system had been installed that the residents were informed by the company that the system could not be connected to the grid and a bi-directional meter could not be installed as promised. The result is that the consumers could not receive credits from Synergy for feeding power back into the grid. If the consumers had known this, they would not have agreed to the purchase.
In handing down his decision on 2 October 2014, Magistrate Heaney said that, although the company has gone into liquidation, the principles of general deterrence warranted a significant fine and an order for compensation.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said this was a serious case of a company betraying the trust of consumers.
“When a company makes a commitment to consumers that they will organise approvals for home installations, they need to be genuine and honest about making those promises and ensure they fulfil their obligations,” Mr Hillyard said.
“To engage in deceptive conduct and, in the process, take advantage of elderly consumers is a serious breach of consumer law and those who are responsible for these types of misleading practices will face prosecution action.”
Further information regarding truth in advertising and the Australian Consumer Law is available on the Consumer Protection website www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumerprotection or www.consumerlaw.gov.au. Consumers who believe they have been misled can contact Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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