CALSSA implements consumer protection code

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In an ongoing effort to protect consumers, who are the necessary entity to the entire concept of a market, the California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA) has updated the group’s Code of Ethics with a detailed section on new consumer protection rules, rules to guide not just CALSSA members, but the businesses those members work with.

What’s more is that there’s nothing soft about these rules. They are mandatory in adherence, and while not directly stated, the mandatory nature implies expulsion from CALSSA if not adhered to. That is not known fact, however.

In fact, all of the updated rules directly address those associated businesses. All members must now make sure third-party customer lead generators follow the new consumer protection rules by closely examining the policies and procedures of said lead generators, as well as monitoring their work over time.

CALSSA will no longer allow companies to be members if they do not police the work of who they buy leads from or, of course, the work of their own in-house teams. New rules include clearly defined terms that MUST NOT be used in any consumer-facing advertisement such as “free solar” or any suggestion that the government has endorsed your products.

For door-to-door canvassing, members must now make sure the salespeople have a HIS registration per California law. This applies whether the canvassers are employed by the CALSSA member or by a third-party business working in conjunction with the member.

The last new rule is arguably the most directly sided towards the immediate protection of the customer:

If you utilize third-party financing such as PPAs, leases or PACE for any of your residential customers, or if you are the financing entity yourself, you must conduct a recorded confirmation call with all of your residential customers before construction begins to cover key terms of the contract.

For CALSSA, the ambition to provide security and peace of mind to customers extends beyond the reaches of California and, in recognition of this ambition, the association also announced that it will be working with SEIA to make sure these rules are adopted across the entire industry.

What these rules feel like are an attempt made by CALSSA to provide customers with ignorance protection. The term “ignorance protection” isn’t meant to be a shot at the intelligence of the consumer, more like a recognition that on the national level, solar energy is a niche topic for the average person to have any knowledge on.

The first rule addresses this particularly well, preventing companies from falsely advertising their services to groups that may not know to question the claims.

This is especially true when looking at the efforts being made across the country to bring solar energy to underprivileged and low-income communities. The biggest commonality among these communities is a lower education level compared to others. If the general education level is low, chances are that the residents, and again this is not to blame them at all, aren’t going to have a comprehensive grasp on the workings of the solar industry.