I am writing because I believe I am a victim of a fraudulent scam by a solar company we signed a contract with in August 2019. Big Dog Solar Company was in breach of their contract the moment they sold us a product and later switched the product to something of lesser quality and quantity without notifying us, getting our approval or refunding us the cost difference for materials we were not able to have due to city covenants. We have tried to settle this matter on numerous occasions to no avail which i describe in full detail below. I have documented emails and text messages from Big Dog that supports everything I am saying to be accurate, but they still try to lie about the circumstances. They are also trying to use fixing our roof as leverage saying they went above and beyond for us when in fact that is not accurate either. We needed a new roof due to the negligence and damage ensued by Big Dog's crew. Big Dog said in email communication that they fixed the roof to avoid confrontation with us but that there was allegedly preexisting hail damage. This was not shared with us until we started having additional issues with them. After the roof was fixed Big Dog Solar tried to and partially installed the wrong product which was of lesser quantity, quality, and value and I made them remove it. The manager, Neil McCulloch, apologized for the miscommunication with his crew and said he would take care of it. 10 days later they came back out to the house to install and when I asked them what they were installing it was again the wrong product with lesser quantity, quality, and value and I again made them remove it. I text the manager again who then disclosed that they lost the solar panels that they were storing for us while the house was being roofed and he tried to settle on multiple different deals. The last offer was hosted on a recorded call by our lender mediating and Kenny Pfannenstiel represendting Big Dog Solar. Kenny proceeded to lie and stated that they put the panels we signed the contract for on our roof despite having email and text communication from the manager in CO stating they did NOT put the panels we signed the contract for on our roof. I did let him know that that was not true and the proof was in the communication from his manager in CO and I have pictures of the panels. At this point I chose to end the conversation as there was no use in trying to have a honest conversation with someone who couldn't tell the truth. I did terminate business with Big Dog Solar and wrote a letter of explanation. I no longer feel comfortable dealing with a company whose character and actions lack integrity. They continue to Bait and Switch products of lesser value, refuse to reimburse me for a ground mount I signed the contract for and are even making threats to bully me into accepting their offer by saying they are going to put 100K in liens on my house. I am aware that this is not possible since they have already received full funding from LoanPal and I am currently making payments to our lender who would be the only one who could put a lien on my house if I defaulted payment. I have also reached out to an expert in solar and electrical work to inspect the mounting brackets that remain on my roof and he stated that they don't have the correct optimizer's on the roof to support the panels I was supposed to be given. The optimizer's are for the panels they tried installing twice after my roof was fixed thus confirming that they never intended on giving the product they were supposed to. There is also multiple electrical issues that never would have passed code if they made it to inspection. We are in the process of trying to get our lender LoanPal to defund my loan that was given to Big Dog on November 13th, 2019, which I will say has been a challenge since Big Dog supplies a large amount of customers to LoanPal for Solar loans. If LoanPal does not defund Big Dog I will be forced to pursue litigation and ensue thousands of dollars in court costs. Please see the in depth description of events to which I do have emails and text messages to support if needed.
We signed the contract on August 30th, 2019 for a 19.8 kW system of 66 300 SilFab panels with a ground mount which equates to a 107% energy production after shading calculations. When Big Dog discovered that we couldn’t have a ground mount they contacted Black Hills Energy to get permission to add additional kW’s to our permit to achieve the energy production of 107% that we signed the contract for, all without us knowing anything about it. He was unable to get 107% energy production, but did get 106% by adding additional Watts and installing 66 SilFab 350’s. These new panels (SilFab 350’s) were installed in November and the only reason we found out they put different panels on the roof is because we asked about an estimated time frame on which they would start installing the ground mount. It was at that time that we found out everything changed and I began asking for a revised contract with a cost breakdown since the ground mount costs more money and our loan total should have changed. LoanPal funded the entire loan of $77,070 to Big Dog on November 13th, when Big Dog said panels were on the roof even though there was not an inspection done, nor was the Black Hills Meter installed.
Per their contract [page 3 section a. and b.] it states that a new contract is to be made if there are significant changes which specifically listed changing of panels or the predicted system output. This put them in Breach of their contract the moment they installed different panels on my roof with different energy production without notifying us or getting approval. This is also an issue with the loan that was funded as we were told that you would be okay with Big Dog “upgrading” the panels as long as we weren’t receiving less product. The initial proposal aligns with the contract we signed with 107% energy production and the updated proposal Neil created that clearly shows an energy production of 106% with the “upgraded panels”. Had these panels not been upgraded and they used SilFab 300’s without the ground mount we would’ve only achieved 83% energy production per the proposals Big Dog created. Please understand that even though the panel watts were increased this was not an upgrade. In fact they gave us a system with 1% less energy production than we paid for, never reimbursed us for the ground mount, and the longevity of the warranty was also subpar compared to the panels we signed on and they did all of this prior to getting approval from us.
During installation Big Dog’s crew shoveled the snow off of our roof with a metal shovel and removed shingles in the process. Some areas all the way down to the wood. This was not isolated in one area. There was damage done and shingles removed or lifted over the entire roof. Big Dog called several roofing contractors to do an inspection and needed to remove all of the panels in order for a proper inspection. We were told that they would store those panels for us and replace them when the roof was completed. Two Roofing companies did come by the house to do an estimate and verbally told us about the damage ensued by Big Dog’s negligence. We were contacted March 4th, 2020 by AXCO Roofing that they would replace the roof on March 6th. This was done and the roof came out great. We never received anything about hail damage from Neil or the roofing contractors until we started having issues with the reinstall. That is when Neil stated in emails multiple different stories about the alleged hail damage and that they had our entire roof redone to avoid conflict and confrontation. This was a decision he made to do and we were never even asked if we would pay for part of the roof if in fact part of the damage was due to previous hail storms. This is also in violation of their contract as it states that the contractor will inspect the roof prior to install for any damages and notify the homeowner. Again we were never notified of any previous damages. Big Dog is trying to use them fixing our roof as leverage that they went above and beyond, but this is proved inaccurate as they damaged our roof and needed to repair it.
The Friday after our roof was inspected the crew showed up to mount brackets in preparation for the install on Monday. I had already reached out to Neil and again requested an updated contract so we could avoid any miscommunication in the future. The crew told me they were installing 62 SilFab 300’s. I said no it should be 66 SilFab 350’s. He walked out front to make a phone call and check and I sent a text to Neil. The crew came back in and said per Neil’s sister, Kristi, our contract is for 62 Jinko 320’s. I said our contract said 66 SilFab 300’s but that was when we had a ground mount and prior to them breaching their contract by installing 66 350 SilFab panels without notifying us or getting approval. Neil text back and apologized for the miscommunication and his failure to let the crew and Kristi know of the changes. The crew then took down the panels that they installed. I text Neil over the weekend again as I still didn’t get the updated contract and other info I requested. Neil did not respond until Monday evening so I sent a text to his crew to let them know not to install until Neil and I have met.
We sorted through everything March 27th with Neil and afterward Neil called Kenny to get the final approval. We settled on reinstalling the 66 SilFab 350 panels (that Big Dog was storing for us while our roof was being fixed), $7,500 cash for the ground mount refund after installation plus $1,830 cash also after installation. He also agreed to continue paying the loan payment as originally promised until we no longer had a bill from the electric company, other than the tie in.
Monday the crew showed back up to install. Tuesday, March 31st 2020 I spoke with the crew and asked what panels they were installing. Charles (lead from the crew) initially told me SilFab 350’s, but when he spoke with my husband he told him 62 Jinko 320’s. We literally just met with Neil the Friday prior and they still put up the wrong quantity and brand of panel. Note the ones that should be reinstalled are the ones they previously installed on our roof in November that they were storing for us until the roof was fixed. I text Neil to please let the crew know that they should be installing what we agreed on which was 66 350 SilFab’s, he responded “yes” and again apologized. A little later Neil texted me again and tried telling me they don’t sell SilFab 350’s for residential (even though they were on my roof several months ago). Then he proceeded to say in later text communication that he can’t find any place selling them and was going to offer another type of panel that would also meet the longevity of the warranty we initially signed for. The SilFab 300’s (that we signed the contract for) had a 25 year workmanship warranty and a 30 year 80% power warranty.
In spite of all of this we tried to come to an agreement at which point they became very nasty in emails and text messages trying to say that they weren’t going to reimburse us for a ground mount and were now going to revert back to the contract that they were clearly in breach of. When I continued to decline their offers they proceeded to try to bully me into accepting their offer by threatening to put 100K in liens on my house. Note the contract we signed was with a proposal for a ground mount and the city of Pueblo will not allow a ground mount install in city limits so those panels listed on the contract without the mount would give us insufficient energy production of 83%. Take that and the last two times they tried to Bait and Switch the wrong product that is cheaper in quality, not the correct quantity, nor the amount of energy production we paid for, and a warranty that was subpar….This is why I no longer want to do business with them. They have proven on multiple occasions that they lack integrity and I fear that they would again put the incorrect panels on my roof and I shouldn’t have to continually ensure that we are getting what we paid for. It is a shame that this company is even in business. I can only imagine how many other customers they have done this to. A customer should not have to become an expert in Solar as I have had to in order to not get taken advantage of.
I have raised the question to LoanPal asking why I am being held liable to pay for a product that was not in the contract that I signed and agreed to pay for nor would it produce the same amount of energy production I paid for or longevity of the warranty. Additionally they have since lost the panels they had on my roof and tried to install an even cheaper brand of panels and less quantity that creates even less energy production, twice (Bait and Switch). Both times I had to reach out to Neil (the manager) and ask that he communicate that they were installing the wrong panels and both times he apologized and said he would take care of it. So now we have a new roof with mounting brackets installed and holes in it to fit the wrong panel brand and quantity that will need to be repaired once again. There are NO solar panels on our roof currently. I do not want to do any further business with Big Dog nor will I allow them back on my property. The offers they have made did not meet the energy production we signed for, longevity of the warranty, nor did they reimbursed us for a ground mount we never got, but paid for. Their offers were subpar to what we signed the contract for and once we finally agreed to one of their offers, they attempted to Bait and Switch a product of lesser quality and quantity twice. I feel this is completely unacceptable and unethical.