‘What a fool to listen to this guy’: Local family feels taken by solar sale

ORLANDO, Fla. — A Casselberry couple blames a door-to-door salesman for a solar panel installation that damaged their roof and months later has failed to save them a dime on their power bill.

“This is the worst leak right here,” Margaret Schukay said as she pointed to her ceiling in the kitchen.

Margaret and Ronald Schukay are anxious every time there’s heavy rain. The ceilings in two rooms of their home have leak stains and the couple claims they know why.

“Who do you blame for those leaks,” Action 9′s Todd Ulrich asked.

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“I blame the solar company. We didn’t have leaks before,” Margaret Schukay said.

The Schukays say a door-to-door salesperson from the Sunrun office in Orange County told them a solar panel installation would eliminate their power bill, and the system would cost them $175 a month for 20 years.

The couple says that within weeks of installation there were significant roof leaks and the company didn’t repair it.

“When you’re looking up at the ceiling what are you thinking?” Ulrich asked.

“What a fool. What a fool to listen to this guy,” Margaret Schukay said.

According to the Schukays,  the company claims it sealed the roof connections and offered $700 to paint the ceilings.

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They don’t believe it has been fixed.

“For the damages, I said no because its more than that,” Ronald Schukay said.

The Schukays say the roof leaks are just part of the issues.

When the company installed the panels on their home it left a yard sign. It reads: ‘I run my home on the sun,’ but eight months later, the system has not been turned on.

The Schukay’s told Action 9 that the power company can’t connect the system until they purchase an additional insurance policy. They claim Sunrun never disclosed that and they say managers won’t return their calls.

“They just push it from one person to the other and nobody gives you the right answer,” Margaret Schukay said.

Sunrun is based in California and is rated A- at the Better Business Bureau. There have been 1,400 consumer complaints about the company filed within the past year. The Bureau lists two state attorney general settlements that took place when the company was called Vivint Solar. The attorneys general made deceptive trade claims that the company has denied.

Ulrich went to Sunrun’s address in Orange County but the office appeared empty.

Action 9 contacted corporate managers in California who are reviewing their complaints.

Holly Salmons is president of the Central Florida Better Business Bureau. She tells consumers to research a solar company on their own before signing anything. “You want to make sure that the company you’re talking to is properly licensed. Look to see if they have received complaints against their license with the state and with the Better Business Bureau.”

According to the Schukays, after Action 9 reached the company, it offered to fix the leaks, repair the ceilings, pay compensation, and have the system turned on in 30 days.

Door-to-door solar sales are one of the top complaints received by Action 9. Don’t sign the contract the same day, get other estimates, and if possible, get your own financing.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.