Vivint Solar has settled a case in New Jersey, one highlighted by allegations of inaccurate price marketing, damaging home installations methods and contract forgery. Now that the dust has settled, the company will pay around $122,000 in damages to customers and the state, make significant changes to its business practices within the state, and employ a full-time compliance officer to ensure that practices in New Jersey are on the straight and narrow.
However it is not the punishment that makes this case so interesting, but rather the allegations. Specifically, Vivint settled allegations of falsely representing electrical bill savings, obtaining customers’ credit reports without their knowledge or consent, forcing customers to sign deliberately confusing contracts that violated their legal rights as customers and performed shoddy, damaging installations. Notably absent from the final settlement is the allegation of rampant contract forgery by Vivint employees, an accusation that has been made against the company in multiple states, but was alleged to be commonplace in New Jersey.
Broken down, Vivint will pay $121,952.53 to the state of New Jersey, $17,483.75 of which will be given as restitution to two homeowners who claim to have suffered serious damage to their homes from a Vivint residential installation. The monetary penalties are small potatoes to Vivint, with the real damage being done to the company’s reputation and business practices. Under the consent order, Vivint has agreed to revise general business practices, the way contracts are worded and constructed, its customer service practices and the way that employees are trained.
The company is also launching a probe into 10% of leases or sales obtained during the timeframe outlined in the lawsuit by the same sales representatives in the lawsuit to determine if those consumers were subjected to any similarly deceptive practices. The company is also hiring a compliance officer to ensure that the terms of the settlement are being met.
Vivint is no stranger to the court room, with cases currently ongoing in California, Arizona, Florida and Maryland. The company was also subject to particularly disturbing allegations of discrimination and racism in the workplace in 2018. Yet, for every case such as this one in New Jersey where the company has, at least, strong allegations of wrongdoing, there are dozens more filed by the equivalent of ambulance chasers in the world of securities lawsuits.