BBB Warning: Altitude Marketing Inc.

  
     
April 13, 2017

DENVER, CO — Better Business Bureau serving Denver/Boulder is issuing a warning about Altitude Marketing Inc., also doing business as 1 800 Solar USA, for a pattern of complaints and advertising issues. This business is a Solar Energy and Equipment Systems Seller/Retail based in Westminster, registered with the Secretary of State as of November 9, 2010, and Mr. Andrew Montney is president.

Consumers are alleging issues with contract, customer service, delivery, billing/collection, and sales in their marketplace interactions with this business. Consumers claim that the solar company takes an unusual amount of time to provide their promised rebates. Consumers state that they were told that installation of these solar panels would reduce energy costs and they would receive rebates. They complain that they do not receive the promised rebates, about the poor performance of the product itself, and about faulty installation processes. One consumer stated this subpar installation caused leaks in the roof and caused sagging, and the inability to close doors and windows.

One consumer explained, “I was promised a $2000 rebate when I signed up for a solar panel install through this company in January of 2015. There was a list of requirements to follow to qualify for the rebate, which I followed. I confirmed in May of 2016 that I had completed all rebate requirements, and was told that my "rebate packet" had been sent out and I'd receive my rebate in the mail in 4-12 weeks. It has been six months and despite many phone calls, voice mails, and emails, I have not been given any information as to where my rebate is and when I will get it. I was also promised assistance in refinancing the "bridge" loans that were taken out in my name to begin the work, which were actually unsecured loans with no interest/no payment promotional periods. One of these loans was a second mortgage on my home (which I was not informed of during the sign-up). I was not given any assistance in refinancing the loans, despite reaching out for assistance repeatedly throughout the summer of 2016, and I am now paying a huge monthly payment when I was told by this company that my payment would be "the same or lower" than my old energy bill payment. I am paying nearly 5 times as much as my old bill, instead.”

Another frustrated customer writes, “The only reason I got this was that it would pretty much zero out my electric bill and I would be paying about $140 or less on the panels a month which would be like a lower monthly electric bill.” Instead, the customer is faced with a payment of $800 a month and that the situation has affected, “my credit that I have worked so hard to rebuild,” further stating, “I don’t really care if they come take the panels off my roof and call it a wash or if they want to personally finance this system for me for the next 20 years. This just needs taken care of IMMEDIATELY!”

Yet another customer explains, “We purchased a solar array for our house totaling $46,375.00 with a federal credit of $13,000 and a $4,000 promotional credit from 1-800-solarusa aka Altitude Marketing Inc. We took out a home equity loan for all but the $4,000 that we were led to believe would have been sent to us after we met our contractual obligations, which were completed by January 2016.” They state, “We have been in contact with Altitude Marketing and have talked to Greg, Sasha, Casey, and Brittany over the past several months. They verified we met all the requirements to receive the $4,000 and the check should have been sent but as of 5/23/16 we still haven't received the check. Additional phone calls to each of these individuals results in the same "we'll check in to that" but nothing ever happens. My credit score is 546 and I worked very hard to get it there. We won't be able to pay their monthly premium and my credit will be threatened.”

And another states, “I purchased a solar system from 1-800-SOLAR-USA / Altitude Marketing Inc. in May 2015 with a number of expectations, promises, etc. that never came to fruition and to this day, nearly one year after the fact, remain outstanding.” They accuse the business of “extremely poor customer service and flat out disregard to my questions and complaints, after I purchased a $17,100 system” and further outline many grievances including, “In February 2016, a member of the 1-800-SOLAR-USA / Altitude Marketing Inc. team ran my credit report without asking me and without telling me. While I had done business with the Company, they are not the entity I had an open account with and I feel they therefore violated my rights as a consumer under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This negatively impacted my credit score and made it difficult to complete my home refinance project which was necessary to pay for the $17,100 solar package. Finally, I recently received voicemail from a member of the Company stating that I owed the company an additional $1,900 and that they were in fact going to take me to collections for the funds.” The customer explains, “This is an additional testament to the inability for 1-800-SOLAR-USA / Altitude Marketing Inc. to operate in a professional manner and I feel these entities should not be allowed to operate in a capacity where large sums of money are exchanged between them and consumers.”

BBB also conducted an advertising review on 2/28/2017 in regards to the statements on the business’ website for $3000 tax credits and utility rebates. The business has not responded to BBB regarding these claims and recently shut their website down.

BBB suspended and dropped the business from accreditation status on April 5, 2017. The business has a total of 64 reportable complaints with 11 currently open. Further information on this business and the complaints and reviews can be found on the Business Profile.

BBB urges caution in dealings with Altitude Marketing Inc. and 1 800 Solar USA, and recommends the following considerations before choosing a solar panel retailer or an investment in solar energy:

  • Discuss with your energy company. Due to the high costs associated with the initial investment of solar power, it is important to conduct a self-energy audit to determine if solar energy is right for you. Usually, if your monthly bill is less than $100, consider other ways to save energy that cost less. Be sure to ask about the local, state, and federal laws concerning the standards and codes of the solar panels.
  • Check with BBB. Take a look at accredited businesses in your area at bbb.org and make sure you know what other consumers who have had marketplace interactions with the company have experienced.
  • Solar energy requires sun. Keep in mind that solar energy requires the sun, so find out on average how many sunny days your home sees annually. As with every product or service, comparison shop with several businesses to make sure you are getting the best deal.
  • Inquire about tax credits. Find out the amount of tax credits you will receive for the amount of energy that is generated. Ask about the length of time you will receive tax credits and if you will be taxed on the credits.
  • Settle the details. Be cautious of installers that promise no out-of-pocket costs prior to reviewing your specific situation. Be wary if an installer suggests obtaining credit for the full amount of the system even though they are promising very low or no costs due to rebates. Ask what will happen if the business promises a certain percentage of savings from your utility bill and the amount of savings is not achieved. 
  • Make sure the roof of your home is equipped to sustain a solar panel system. Even though a properly installed solar system will not damage your roof, make sure your roof is in good condition before you begin the installation to avoid any future problems.