Couple feels Vivint Solar scammed them | KOB 4

Couple feels Vivint Solar scammed them

Kassi Nelson
March 12, 2018 07:50 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A decision to go solar has turned into a huge stressor for an elderly couple. The Tornquists said they were promised lower costs, but the bills keep coming.


Those costs are only getting more expensive.

"We just thought it was a win-win solution, so we went ahead and went with it," Bonnie Tornquist said. "And from then on, it just went downhill and the bills have gone uphill."

The couple had 23 panels installed by Vivint Solar in July. They said the company told them their PNM bill would be reduced to $7 or $8 a month, and they would only receive a bill from Vivint if they went over a certain amount of kilowatts.

But Tornquist said now she's paying nearly double for electricity, and no one can seem to tell her why. In the month of February, she was charged $180 between both companies.

"We want to be out of it. They can come get their panels,” she said.

Tornquist said she signed a 20-year contract with Vivint on a salesman’s iPad. She said the company hasn't been able to send her a copy of the contract, even though she requested one.

"We didn't get a thing in writing," she said. "The only thing we have in writing is the bills that come into our email to pay."

The Tornquists aren't the only ones who have noticed something’s not right. Attorney General Hector Balderas filed a lawsuit last week that accuses Vivint of engaging in unfair business practices.

The suit states the defendants use multiple ploys to lure consumers into its "free" trap and binds them into 20-year contracts. It also alleges Vivint falsely assures the consumers they’ll save money when, in fact, they’ll likely pay more.

The complaint also charges Vivint with filing improper notices in consumer real estate records that operate to cloud titles, in some cases making it a challenge for the consumers to sell their homes.

Vivint has denied the AG’s allegations and released this statement:

Yesterday, the New Mexico attorney general's office issued a press release announcing the filing of a lawsuit against Vivint Solar. While Vivint Solar does not generally comment on pending litigation, consumers in the state of New Mexico and elsewhere have been misled by statements issued by the New Mexico attorney general's office in connection with the lawsuit. 

Much of the interest in this lawsuit has been driven by this press release that not only misrepresents Vivint Solar's dealings with consumers in the state, but also does not accurately describe the attorney general's own allegations in the disputed lawsuit. It was also issued before the lawsuit was filed, giving Vivint Solar little opportunity to respond.

Vivint Solar will address the attorney general’s incorrect allegations in the courts. In the meantime, Vivint Solar customers are entitled to accurate information about Vivint Solar's business.

To be clear, Vivint Solar does not, has not, will not and cannot ever jeopardize its customers' homeownership. Vivint Solar does not take a lien on its customers’ homes under its Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) or Solar System Lease Agreements. A PPA is commonly used throughout the residential solar industry as a means of providing consumers with access to clean, affordable energy with no upfront investment by the customer; in exchange, the customer agrees to pay for all energy produced by the solar energy system.

Vivint Solar’s PPA relationships with New Mexico customers and throughout the country are no different. Under a PPA, Vivint Solar designs, purchases equipment for and installs a solar energy system on the customer's home at no initial cost to the customer. Our customers purchase the energy produced by the system on their home during the term of the PPA, often at a discounted price to the utility. Vivint Solar records a notice in the county property records to disclose the fact that it owns the solar energy system. Vivint Solar does not record a lien on the customer's home. 

The attorney general's office is well aware of this fact, and the press release headline that Vivint Solar is "jeopardizing home ownership" for customers is misleading and is not even an allegation in the lawsuit.

In the event that customers with a PPA refinance or sell their homes, Vivint Solar regularly works with customers and their financial institutions to make sure that there is no confusion about the scope of Vivint Solar's interest. We care about our customers, and the last thing we want to do is impede a customer's refinancing or sale of their property.

Vivint Solar is proud to provide affordable, renewable energy to its customers in New Mexico. We are also proud to employ over 50 employees in the state, from installation teams and electricians to our sales representatives. We work hard to do business the right way, and we will not allow our customers to be misled about our business. 

We look forward to defending ourselves in the court action.


Kassi Nelson

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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