Two solar panel systems retailers have amended their marketing campaigns after the Australian Competition and Complaints Commission (ACCC) raised concerns that representations in their adverts were likely to mislead or deceive consumers.

Queensland Solar Systems (QSS) and State Solar Services (SSS) acknowledged that it was likely that they had contravened the Trade Practices Act 1974, as they had claimed:

  • that consumers could ‘wipe out’ household electricity bills by installing a 1.5kw solar panel system
  • that the solar systems were available at heavily discounted prices, when they had never sold the systems at higher prices or recommended retail prices advertised, and
  • that the discounts were only available during limited sale periods, when the systems were always available at discount prices.

Furthermore both retailers did not make it clear that the discounts were only available to those eligible for the Federal Government financial incentives in the form of Renewable Energy Certificates.

The court enforceable proceedings require the retailers to publish corrective notices in newspapers in Queensland and Victoria, in an industry magazine and on their websites. They’re also required to contact past customers to inform them of their misdemeanour, as well as set up a trade practices law compliance program.

ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel, said that in the future, the ACCC may use its enforcement power to issue substantiation notices, which require businesses to substantiate their claims and to produce supporting documentation.