Matt Greer

SolarCity Agony

04 May 2017

We have been trapped in customer support hell with SolarCity since last November. Over six months of trying to correct their mistakes, just so we can pay our bill! They have been just awful, and I feel like I’ve got to let others know. If you are considering solar panels, I recommend avoiding SolarCity.

Locked In

It all started when we bought a house last October. It came with a SolarCity lease. After researching solar panel leases, we came to the conclusion they aren’t great deals, but they’re not terrible either. At least not bad enough to turn down the house, so we decided to go with it. This required transfering the lease to us, and locking us into their contract. At this point, SolarCity was great. They would respond to any email or phone call immediately, were helpful and easy to work with.

Red Flags

The first red flag, although a tiny one, was the online payment portal was not available to us (for the record, it’s still not). Ok, no big deal, we had just opened our account and I was confident it’d be ready by the next month. I called and inquired about the situation and the representative recommended I both don’t make a payment yet, and that I don’t set up automatic payments until things were straightened out.

Next month I still was unable to pay online, so I emailed them asking why, and called to pay by phone. The representative asked if I’d like to pay my bill with my Wells Fargo account. Hmmmm, I don’t have a Wells Fargo bank account. Each time I called them, they would ask me to confirm that I own two solar systems. Nope, just the one. And each time I called, my balance due would be different, wildly so. I came to realize what they had done was gotten my details mixed together with the previous owner. I also came to realize that my “balance due” could either be a) my balance b) the previous owner’s balance from when they lived here c) the previous owner’s balance on their other solar system or d) a combination of all three. I wrote them an email telling them I was concerned about the security of my bank account and the mix up, and they responded with

The previous homeowner has two properties with SolarCity systems on them. The billing accounts for their two properties are still linked in our billing portal.

Your account is still in the process of being transferred from the previous homeowner to the new homeowner. This is why your billing account is temporarily disabled until we can get the two accounts unlinked and corrected to reflect your information.

email response

Squeeky Wheel Gets the Grease

Their ultimate response to my concerns was to assign me to a “customer service manager”. At first, this did seem like a step forward. She first contacted me by phone in January. She said she would personally look over my account, ensure the statements and balances due were correct, and allow me to make payments over the phone with her directly. Little did I know at the time, I was about to waste untold amounts of time with this person.

There turned out to be some problems with this arrangement: this person is just shy of impossible to get ahold of. This person did positively nothing at all to improve or correct the situation. And since our account was assigned to her, making payments through the standard customer service phone number was no longer possible.

If I email her, she does not respond. If I leave a voicemail, she does not call back. Well, at least not in a timely fashion. Her average response time is about 7 days. That’s just response time, actually getting information out of her has proven to take much, much longer. She hems and haws with “we’re working on it”, and “I’ll call you back with the details on that”.

Simply put, I don’t have time for this. Playing phone and email tag with a SolarCity manager is not my idea of time well spent. She is only available during standard business hours. So I have to call her while I’m at work. I told her I would prefer to not make any payments until the online portal was fixed. She agreed, said she’d make a note of that in my file, and I naively thought that might be the end of the situation.

Statement Mishmash … Yet Again

Then when I received my statement for the month of April, I noticed they were right back to their old tricks of pulling a balance due seemingly out of thin air. I also really enjoyed that whether they decided to charge me tax for a given month seemed to be decided by coin flip.

statements

I raised the issue on April 1st both via email and Twitter. I also called the standard customer service line and had a very heated discussion with the representative who answered. To that person’s credit, she was really cool and even said “I’d be even madder than you are now if it was me!”. I also left several voicemails in early April.

misunderstanding tweet from solarcity

I didn’t receive my corrected statement until April 24th.

Concerned About My Credit

At this point it’s now April, and I’ve not made a payment since January. Not because I don’t want to, but because I pretty much can’t. Based on all the other shenanigans, I realized they will probably report me to a credit agency for late and missing payments. So I contacted my assigned customer service manager and asked her about this. It took weeks and weeks to get an answer to this simple question. And the answer was

I do want to inform you that starting June of 2017, we will begin to report our Customer’s payment history and charge offs. It is important to start paying on the large past due balance.

Remember:

  1. I can only pay my bill through this manager.
  2. She takes about 1 week to respond to anything I send her, and about ohhhh a month to actually have an answer to any question I ask.

So I’m expected to spend untold amount of my own time calling and emailing this person just trying to hold her down for 5 minutes so I can make a payment, or risk my credit being dinged? All because they can’t get their shit together, untangle my account from the previous owner’s, get me accurate statements, and not even to mention let me do all this online like it’s 2017?

Let’s Play Phone Tag For a Year!

And this is the real kicker. After asking repeatedly “when will I finally be able to access the online payment portal?”, I finally got an answer:

After reviewing your account with the Director of our Customer Account Management Group, I was advised that your billing portal will be accessible come Winter of 2017.

We bought this house (and thus took over this SolarCity lease) in October, 2016. Call me crazy, but that looks like an entire year or more of having to make my payments through this manager, otherwise face the risk of my credit taking a hit.

I’ve sent SolarCity 18 emails regarding this situation, the first one sent on November 28th. I’ve called SolarCity regarding this manner about a dozen times. I’ve tweeted at SolarCity regarding this manner 23 times. Most of the tweets are pretty much me begging for them to respond to me

twitter conversation with SolarCity

It took me approximately 4 months to get any of these answers. And the answers basically boil down to “ehhhh, you signed that contract buddy, so suck it up!”

“Conclusion”

So by a small miracle, the SolarCity manager actually did call me this Wednesday, and I managed to pay my bill. I paid my overdue balance, and I also paid for the entirety of 2017. Why? Because it seems like my best shot at not having to deal with this until “winter 2017”. I’m putting faith in them that they can apply the payment correctly and will stop trying to charge me for other people’s solar panels. They couldn’t even get me a receipt for making this payment, just a confirmation number. But the thing is I simply have no choice. Had I known SolarCity would be this utterly incompetent and apathetic, I probably would have bought a different house.

I’m still left with all kinds of fun, such as watching my bank account like a hawk to make sure they don’t use it to pay someone else’s bill. Also I’m sure it will be a blast to confirm my entire-year payment went through correctly. I’m also really looking forward to getting a statement ohhhh say in August with a past due of who knows, $823.56? What are the chances this will all be resolved in “winter 2017”? I’m not too hopeful … SolarCity has absolutely no idea what they are doing, they don’t care, and it’s their customers who pay the price.