The ACCC proposes new code to protect Aussies buying solar panels

Ceyda Erem

02 Aug 2019

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Even with the promise of lower energy bills, it’s not uncommon for many Aussies to view solar panels as a serious investment that requires careful consideration. 

And with payment and credit options around every corner, some Aussies may be left in the dark about what they can expect when they purchase a set of solar panels from a supplier. 

To make purchasing solar and renewable energy products clearer and more consumer-focused, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has proposed a new consumer code for retailers that offer solar generation and storage systems and electrical vehicle charging systems. 

The New Tech Consumer Code sets minimum standards of good practise and consumer protection that will apply to all interactions a customer has with participating retailers, such as finance and payment, complaints and product warranties. 

“Products like solar panels or battery storage involve significant financial outlays for households,” said ACCC Deputy Chair, Delia Rickard. 

“This Code aims to give consumers more protections and more information to help them make informed purchases.” 

Retailers that sign up to the code must abide by the following:

- Avoid high pressure sales tactics

- Ensure their advertising is clear and accurate

- Educate customers on their rights 

- Provide clear information about product performance and maintenance 

- Take extra steps to protect vulnerable customers 

- Implement an effective complaints handling process 

How Aussies will be able to pay for solar panels under the Code 

One area the ACCC has welcomed opinion from is in how credit products can be provided responsibly. At the moment, signatories to the Code are permitted to only use licensed credit providers and specific regulated credit products. 

Although this would mean that ‘buy now, pay later’ (BNPL) arrangements are not permitted as they don’t comply with the Code’s requirements, the ACCC is seeking further submissions on whether it’s possible to protect customers while offering regulated BNPL services. 

The ACCC will then release its final determination in September or October 2019. 

Beyond post-paying panels

At the moment, it’s unclear whether Aussies would be able to use post-pay services to pay for solar products, but there are already other finance options out there including green personal loans. 

A green personal loan is a type of personal loan that is designed for eco-friendly purchases, such as solar panels and batteries. 

“If you’re serious about having solar panels installed, there are a few lenders out there that offer personal loans for purchases like these and will reward you for making an environmentally friendly choice with a lower interest rate,” said Mozo Energy Expert, Nathan Warne. 

“And if you’re looking to make the switch to solar, you might want to consider switching to an energy retailer that specialises in solar and renewable energy, as they can help you get the most out of your panels.” 

Ready to start comparing solar focused retailers in your area? Head on over to our energy comparison tool

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