While it may be impossible to get ransom for rays of sunshine, fraud is becoming a more prevalent problem in the PV solar industry. Growth and the steady adoption of PV technology are great for solar business but for every positive opportunity there is a negative risk -electrical pun intended. Smaller boutique style solar firms compete on personal service and the ability to provide solar engineering services and pre-packaged PV solutionsto other firms, but how can you tell which customer is genuinely interested, and which might drain your power and your finances? We have put together a list of red flags and tips to keep your business safe from PV solar industry fraud .
Shady Request # 1 Suspicious PV Equipment Quotes
Be wary if a quote request contains many items that popular price leaders. While the consumer may have selected these based on a specific budget, it is also possible to get the same brand names and equipment specs from a quick search on Google. Quotes that ask for 12V solar panels, Grundfos pumps and Morning Star charge controllers are very common. These items are readily available on the market and fake solar equipment buyers hope the low price point will keep transactions under the radar.
Shady Request # 2 No Smarts, Just Parts
Be suspicious if you are asked to provide a quote with little or no information about the intended application of the equipment. Most legitimate customers won’t mind if you ask a few questions about their individual needs. Questions are after all a sign of intelligent customer service. Reluctance or a flat refusal to provide any information to a wholesale solar parts supplier should raise a red flag.
Shady Request # 3 Shipping at the Speed of Light
It is possible that your client operates under tight deadlines but most businesses have at least a few days in-between the time they shop for equipment or services and their preferred delivery date. If a potential customer request overnight or second day delivery ask if they can provide a form of payment other than a credit card. People with legitimate orders won’t typically have a problem with authorizing a wire transaction, paying in cash or by check. If the client insists on paying with a credit card be cautions those cases where the address for delivery is not the same as the card holder’s address. In most fraud cases it can take up to three days for the merchant to receive charge back notice. By then the equipment is gone and the firm is left without protection.
Tips to Tackle Fraud
- Ask for the card to be presented at time of purchase
- Ask about the application of the equipment being quoted
- Check for inconsistencies between the card holder address and the shipping address
- Ask about the option to process to order using a different payment method if working with a first time buyer.
- Confirm the purchase with the bank that issued the card
For more information and helpful hints please subscribe to our blog and our newsletter. Those who are legitimately looking for solar wholesale equipment or engineering and contracting management can connect with US Solar International here.