Consumer protection and industry obligations

Retailers and installers in our programs have obligations to ensure that consumers’ rights are protected.

What we require of retailers and installers

Stringent quality and safety standards must be met under our programs so that you receive a high-quality and safe system that will deliver many years of service.

To help achieve this, only authorised solar retailers, authorised hot water retailers, CEC accredited installers and these products are eligible under our programs

As a retailer

We require retailers to provide clear and unambiguous information to customers, a high standard of after-sales service, and ensure that the solar system is fit for the needs of each customer.

The Solar Victoria Retailer Terms and Conditions approved on 27 June 2023 further strengthen consumer protections and support the high standards of the Solar Homes Program.

These terms and conditions respond to a key recommendation made in the Victorian Auditor General’s Report, Delivering the Solar Homes Program, to improve our program controls for protecting customers and meeting compliance requirements.

In accepting these terms and conditions, authorised retailers must:

  • provide a written statement that the system installed is complete, functional and installed as per design requirements and the customer quotation
  • obtain pre-approval from the Distributed Network Service Provider (DNSP), advise the customer of any energy export limits, and engage a CEC-accredited solar system designer, or equivalent, to complete a site-specific performance assessment
  • have an internal complaint-handling procedure in place to support consumers, as required under the New Energy Tech Consumer Code (NETCC)
  • agree to Solar Victoria undertaking or seeking financial and integrity checks and requesting additional information from retailers to ensure ongoing suitability to participate in our programs
  • agree to provide any information we reasonably require in making this assessment and confirm the information provided is true and correct
  • provide written notification to Solar Victoria of any changes to company officers or directors, if the retailer is subject to a Change in Control, or if the retailer becomes insolvent.

Authorised retailers must also meet all mandatory requirements set out in the Solar Victoria Notice to Market, including:

  • solar PV and battery retailers being signatories to the NETCC
  • providing a minimum five year whole-of-system warranty for all eligible systems under our programs, including quality of work
  • providing the customer with documentation confirming the terms and conditions of the product warranty, and who to contact in the event of a product failure.

As an installer

Some things you must do as a solar PV and battery system installer to protect consumers include:

Some things you must do as a solar hot water and heat pump installer to protect consumers include:

  • Holding the appropriate plumbing accreditation issued by the Victorian Building Authority.
  • Issuing a compliance certificate where the customer’s hot water system has been installed to a total value of $750 or more. This also applies to all gas installations affecting gas pipes. Only a licensed plumber can issue a compliance certificate.
  • Providing the customer with a Certificate of Electrical Safety where electrical work has occurred.

For more detail on what is required of you as an authorised installer in our program, read:

Advertising and sales tactics

Under the terms and conditions, authorised retailers must comply with all laws when publicising Solar Victoria’s programs. This includes laws prohibiting false and misleading representations and not engaging in unsolicited door-to-door sales to market our rebates.

Inappropriate high-pressure sales tactics can include

  • ‘cold' calling and door knocking
  • advertising free systems and appliance installations
  • pressure selling
  • providing false costing information
  • providing misleading information regarding eligibility for government rebates
  • completing applications on behalf of customers
  • claiming endorsement or affiliation with government and public figures.

Door-to-door sales to market our rebates was prohibited in our Retailer Terms and Conditions on 1 September 2021 (see Door-to-door sales banned from today).

Consumers have 10 full business days to reconsider agreements made in any circumstances.

This cooling-off period gives consumers time to ensure they are happy with the decision and that they have all the information needed to make a good choice. It begins on the first business day after the agreement is made. If the consumer cancels the agreement, there’s no penalty.

We monitor for and investigate inappropriate or high-pressure marketing and sales tactics and will refer conduct that may breach Australian Consumer Law to Consumer Affairs Victoria.

For information about the substantial penalties for breaching Australian Consumer Law, see the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website.

Responsible lending practices

Solar Victoria is a responsible lender and considers each applicant’s financial circumstances (including repayment obligations to other lenders) to assess whether:

  • the applicant can comply with the financial obligations under the proposed loan without substantial hardship
  • the proposed loan meets their needs.

As an authorised retailer and signatory to the NETCC, you must also, where applicable:

  • offer customers credit through a credit provider licensed under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (National Credit Act) or an unlicensed provider that has been approved by the Clean Energy Council as meeting minimum consumer protections
  • ensure any deferred payment plans (including Buy Now Pay Later arrangements) offered to customers to part finance the cost of a solar panel (PV) or solar battery installation meet this NETCC requirement. We recommend you contact the credit provider or the NETCC Administrator to determine if this requirement has been met.

Industry focus on safety and quality

We work with government agencies, regulators and peak bodies to continuously improve safety and quality within the solar industry in Victoria. They include:

As regulators, WorkSafe Victoria, ESV and the VBA can inspect installations during and after installations to ensure they meet safety requirements. We also work with independent auditors to inspect five per cent of systems installed under our programs.

The purpose of these checks is to ensure the safety of customers and workers and to develop an understanding of where authorise retailers and installers are doing well, and where there is room for improvement.

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