Review - My New Customer Experience with SunPower and Viridis Energy

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  • Mauthedog
    Junior Member
    • Dec 2023
    • 7

    Review - My New Customer Experience with SunPower and Viridis Energy

    For people Evaluating Solar Companies – My experience with Viridis Energy Solutions (local dealer) and SunPower (panel provider)
    Ratings are out of 5.


    Customer Service: 1 Star
    Post Sales Communication: 2 Stars
    The Software/App Experience: 2 Stars
    Installation Experience: 3 Stars
    Planning & Design Experience: 5 Stars
    Sales Experience: 5 stars


    Sales Experience: 5 stars
    The salesman, a young man named Kristian was friendly without being swarmy; knowledgeable about the industry and the products; and answered all my questions. In retrospect, I realize he did a fantastic job of playing up the power of the SunPower-Viridis partnership. The pricing was competitive with other vendors I considered. The contract terms were clear.

    Planning & Design Experience: 5 Stars
    The Viridis team provided really good and easy to understand documents that detailed the proposed installation. The information included panel layout, shadows, sun angles, and the expected energy output. They also inspected my attic and electrical system. And when I requested changes to the proposal, they responded quickly.

    Installation Experience: 3 Stars
    The Viridis team showed up on time on the installation day and from what I can tell so far, did a great job. No signs of any leaks. The panels look great on the house.
    I give them 3 stars instead of 5, for two reasons:
    1. One of the Viridis people stopped by to deliver some papers to the installation team. They waved to me; asked whether I was Mr. Lawrence; then just left. They blew a chance to chat with me; assure me that things were going fine; maybe establish the beginning of a customer relationship.
    2. One of the system components (the PVS box) has not worked correctly since installation.

    Post- Sales Communication: 2 Stars
    Viridis seems to rely on automated procedures to communicate during the post-sales and pre-installation stage.
    The initial emails I received were timely and informative. I received them after some event had apparently occurred. The emails included nice graphics that depicted the entire process and where we were within it.

    After a couple of months there were no updates. I would send a monthly email to the company and ask what was going on. It took months for someone to reply back with “We are waiting for the materials from SunPower.”
    And then at the end of the summer, I received an email asking whether the end of October would be good for the install.

    After the install, I received a few apparently automated emails. The process continued. This next stage was all about getting approvals from Eversource and my town. Not much communication from Viridis.

    And then around December 13, I received an email saying I could turn on the system. The email had a link to how to do that. But the photos did not match my system exactly; so, was a bit nervous. We had a green light on a box; so, everything was working.

    Customer Service: 1 Star
    1. You rarely hear from them during the installation process. All communication is via email. And if they have no updates---even over a period of months---you won’t hear from them. If you’re wondering what’s going on, you need to almost badger them to get any response or update.
    2. On the actual panel installation day, they did a good install job as far as I can tell. No leaks so far. The panels work. But, there’s no customer education; no instruction. Got a question? Go online and search websites for answers.
    3. After the installation, you wait until they send an email saying it’s OK to turn on the breaker. My setup has four; so, I assumed I had to turn on all four. Again, no handoff; no education; no customer support.
    4. Once Viridis has your money, they disappear on you. (I’m not alone in asserting this. Check the forums. Check with the BBB.)
    5. Got an issue? They refer you to SunPower or say they are waiting on SunPower.
    6. Once SunPower opens a ticket, Viridis doesn’t follow through.
      Example: I’ve had two tickets opened with SunPower. The first one was closed after a couple days with “a strong recommendation that the customer obtain a wifi extender.“ My wifi router is within 15 feet of the solar setup.
    2nd example: SunPower told me Viridis was sent a second ticket notice two weeks ago, which they have apparently ignored. This behavior is also described in complaints found at the BBB.
    1. On one day I called Viridis, an employee (who refused to state his first name) said the ticket “came in just today.”
    2. On Friday (March 1st), I returned from lunch to find “John,” a Viridis employee waiting for me. No one from Viridis emailed or texted or phoned to warn me he would be coming out for a site visit. After he spent a couple of hours trying to connect to the PVCS box, he checked in with the office. The company response was that the situation needed to be “escalated;” whatever that means. Only took three months, an angry phone call, and a site visit for them to agree that “something is wrong.”
    3. I’m writing this paragraph on Tuesday March 5. No word from either Viridis or SunPower regarding how they plan to proceed to fix the issue now that they admit something is wrong.
    4. I’m writing this paragraph on Saturday March 15. SunPower wrote to me saying, “our Product Support Experts reviewed the previous findings and photos from the visit and do not believe the monitoring device requires replacement at this time.”
    5. After three months, I’m not even sure what is going on with my system. Not once has anyone explained why the app won’t work and why I don’t have any reporting data. Three technicians have appeared at my house in three months, and all three have done the same thing: Examine my inside circuit breaker box; look at their outside PVS box, and then spend an hour trying to connect their phones to the system; without success. Then they leave and I’m left feeling no progress has been made.

    SUMMATION
    PRO: The solar panels work as advertised. My first two electric bills were cut in half during the winter season with its shorter daylight hours and prevalent cloudy skies. My most recent bill (for Feb-March) is a credit for $21! Pretty good!

    CON: I really don’t know how well the panels are working; I have no idea how much specific panels output or whether anything could be wrong. I was promised all that.
    I was also promised the support from a national company that has been around for a while.
    Instead, I find myself dealing with two companies that for the most part ignore or shuffle me back to the other company.

    The real test of customer service is when something has gone wrong
    If these two companies had immediately addressed my system’s issues, I would be singing their praises and detailing their awesome customer services. Instead, they have resisted fixing a problem for three months, and there is no sign the issue will be resolved anytime soon.
    It’s clear to me that Viridis Energy and SunPower aren’t “like a good neighbor.”
    Given my experience and the experience of others who have posted online, why would you expect these companies to be there for you?

    Additional info for those who are interested

    Viridis Energy Solutions
    Complaints at Better Business Bureau:
    https://www.bbb.org/us/ma/woburn/pro...042/complaints
    Note: Viridis has an “A” rating with the BBB, but is not accredited with them.


    SunPower
    1. Plenty of complaints at SolaPanelTalk.com
      https://www.solarpaneltalk.com
    2. The company is apparently in financial trouble according to multiple news stories. https://www.latitudemedia.com/news/w...ng-to-sunpower
      https://www.investopedia.com/sunpowe...siness-8417611
    3. Their app says to contact them, but they send you back to the dealer, who may in turn send you back to them.
    4. Their customer service apparently can only send out one email per week to a customer.

    Excerpt from one article:
    A subsidiary of the rooftop solar company breached a credit agreement, according to a Monday filing, and it warned that “substantial doubt exists about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

    These local companies come and go. If they are associated with a national panel manufacturer that could soon go under, you can bet you won’t get top-notch service. So, it make sense to avoid a company that is in financial trouble.








  • J.P.M.
    Solar Fanatic
    • Aug 2013
    • 14942

    #2
    So, your system seems to be working to your satisfaction but their communication is not to your satisfactiion. Is that about it ?

    If so, you have a lot of company.

    As for a solar company being in financial straits, they're not alone.

    I'd count my blessings for what you seem to describe as a decent install.

    Comment

    • Mauthedog
      Junior Member
      • Dec 2023
      • 7

      #3
      Hi JPM,

      Thanks for the thoughts. I guess I have much to learn. I agree with your last sentence. I have to count my blessings.

      My problem is that I have worked in hi-tech customer service; so, my perspective is out of date and not in vogue: One should take care of the customer, especially the new customer. TO me, that means honoring the warranty from the start.

      Here's a metaphor for your consideration:

      Imagine that you bought a custom-made electric car from a dealer who promised access to all the car's data; so you would know exactly how it was working. You get the car and it drives great. And then you find that most of the time the electronic displays don't work. How do you know how much energy is being expended; how much charge you have left; whether there are any problems? And when you go to the dealer, they say go to the manufacture, who in turn says to talk to the dealer. How would you feel?


      Update - My posts seem to ave caught their attention. Today (Wed) a techie for the local dealer showed up. He had a replacement part, but it turned out to be a broken part that had been mistakenly placed in the "new" inventory. The guy also said that delays were due to SunPower.

      So, on the one hand they showed up again to do something. One the other hand, the finger pointing at each other continues.

      Comment

      • oregon_phil
        Solar Fanatic
        • Jan 2019
        • 497

        #4
        I agree with all that is being said. Troubleshooting takes a lot of critical thinking and seems to be handled by curated scripts at each level of support for almost every company nowadays.

        Troubleshooting and fixing custom pieces of equipment takes knowledge, skill, perseverance and a company mission statement that allows that to happen. And if you are a customer facing service employee, you have to have people skills by talking to actual people; not texting them. I'm not sure where all these brilliant employees are going to be minted since AI seems to have taken over many aspects of customer "service".

        Comment

        • J.P.M.
          Solar Fanatic
          • Aug 2013
          • 14942

          #5
          Originally posted by Mauthedog
          Hi JPM,

          Thanks for the thoughts. I guess I have much to learn. I agree with your last sentence. I have to count my blessings.

          My problem is that I have worked in hi-tech customer service; so, my perspective is out of date and not in vogue: One should take care of the customer, especially the new customer. TO me, that means honoring the warranty from the start.

          Here's a metaphor for your consideration:

          Imagine that you bought a custom-made electric car from a dealer who promised access to all the car's data; so you would know exactly how it was working. You get the car and it drives great. And then you find that most of the time the electronic displays don't work. How do you know how much energy is being expended; how much charge you have left; whether there are any problems? And when you go to the dealer, they say go to the manufacture, who in turn says to talk to the dealer. How would you feel?


          Update - My posts seem to ave caught their attention. Today (Wed) a techie for the local dealer showed up. He had a replacement part, but it turned out to be a broken part that had been mistakenly placed in the "new" inventory. The guy also said that delays were due to SunPower.

          So, on the one hand they showed up again to do something. One the other hand, the finger pointing at each other continues.
          You're welcome.
          We all have a lot to learn. I consider learning the process that grows the raw material that powers my curiosity.

          A story: I was once a commissioned sales rep. If I sold nothing I made nothing. I made a good living (and took a pretty healthy pay cut to become an engineer) but a lot of the benefit to me from being a peddler was the education I couldn't get anywhere else in terms of understanding the value of a customer and of developing personal relationships.
          I also learned in spades the facts of life as they relate to the not so nice side of human nature - my own as well as everyone else's.

          To respond to your question and since I take the question as non-rhetorical: I'd feel not good but most certainly not surprised - as a matter of fact, that's about what I'd expect or worse. But that's just me.
          I add that I also wouldn't buy such a custom made vehicle because of the unacceptably (to me) high probability of the likelihood of problems (a lemon) brought about by the non-standard nature of the product and the resulting unnecessary but unavoidable complication of such a product brought about from the violation of the KISS principle.
          But that's part of what an engineering outlook on the world has taught me.

          Rant mode on:

          Sounds (reads) like you bought into the B.S. sales pitch when you bought the system. Well, caveat emptor on that.

          It sounds (reads) too like you're still looking at the business world through pollyanna rose colored glasses. Consider this possibility: The guy that recently showed up with a broken part did so to shut you up and make you think the company is on your side and then blamed someone else (Sunpower) for the problem. That crap is in the peddler's bag of tricks.
          That's not only got no class, it's cynical and also stupid on their part.

          Know this: PV outfits, like every other business in a capitalist system are in it for one reason: To make a profit. Full Stop.

          If you think most outfits will have their moral compass pointed in the right direction most of the time and will do the right thing by their customers every time, I've got a bridge you might be interested in.

          Looking back on my 10+ year experience as a peddler and then thinking of myself on the other side (as a customer) has taught me a good deal about the value of self-reliance, the ability to sift through B.S., getting my own information and forming my own opinions about things as well as and the value of skepticism.

          Botttom line: If customers would become more informed, and also less trusting, peddlers of all stripes would make less money.

          More importantly, consumers who take the time and make the effort to get a clue about what they want or think they need will get more value for their time and money.

          I appreciate how you feel about your experience but IMO only, I doubt if anyone really cares about any opinions you may have about how you think the process went or how the personnel performed except you.

          That's not because what you wrote is not considered and well written (but IMO underinformed), but rather and mostly (but not entirely) because most readers anywhere are too self-absorbed, mentally slothful and so too ignorant to benefit from your observations.

          Rant mode off.

          Take what you may want of the above. Scrap the rest.

          Comment

          • Andrew Smith
            Junior Member
            • Mar 2024
            • 4

            #6
            Thank you for sharing this here. This is really helpful.

            Comment

            • Mauthedog
              Junior Member
              • Dec 2023
              • 7

              #7
              A positive update:

              As I mentioned in a previous (3/20) update, a technician showed up a few days ago, but had a bad part.
              He returned the next day (3/21) and the new part seems to have worked. I have had full reporting for the last three days.

              And finally (for this comment), I've started exploring this forum site. As member JPM mentioned, my experience hasn't been all that bad compared to the norm
              I guess on the one hand, it reflects the poor state of customer service in the USA (across many industries); and on the other I can choose to be happy. The system works!


              Comment

              • Mason Parsons
                Junior Member
                • Mar 2024
                • 10

                #8


                Great to hear the technician got things sorted with the new part! Exploring the forum sounds like a good idea; there's often a lot of helpful info and supportive folks around. It's unfortunate that customer service can be hit or miss, but it's great you're choosing to focus on the positive side.

                Comment

                • Andrew Smith
                  Junior Member
                  • Mar 2024
                  • 4

                  #9
                  It sounds like you had quite a mixed experience with Viridis Energy and SunPower. It's disappointing when companies promise great service but fail to deliver when issues arise. Thanks for sharing your honest feedback.

                  Last edited by solar pete; 06-28-2024, 08:34 PM.

                  Comment

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