Controversial solar panel sales and installation firm Open Energie is undergoing a process of judicial liquidation, potentially affecting thousands of homeowners.
A solar panel owners’ association, le Groupement des particuliers producteurs d’électricité photovoltaïque (GPPEP), posted the news on its Facebook page. It estimates that the company’s collapse would affect between 10,000-14,000 customers.
60 Millions de Consommateurs, the national consumer institute magazine reports that these clients may now struggle with problems ranging from solar panels which do not work or have not been connected, to issues with obtaining VAT refunds.
GPPEP’s president, Joël Mercy, told RMC one major issue is that they will no longer be able to benefit from an installer’s guarantee.
He said: “If our panels break down, we'll have to find another company, and the new installer isn't going to come free of charge.”
Open Energie controversy
Open Energie – which previously went by the name of Agence française pour la transition énergétique – is no stranger to controversy.
Reports in recent months have included allegations that some clients believed they had signed a form for a feasibility study, but had in fact signed an order form for panels.
More than 200 people recently accused the company of misleading commercial practices in a case before a Paris court. Some said they had felt pressured into signing a contract or that their ‘cooling off period’ had not been respected.
GPPEP also claims that the firm let customers believe that they could reclaim VAT, without explaining that the procedure can be very difficult for members of the public.
One supplier to Open Energie told RMC it had stopped working with the company at the end of 2022, because of a “significant” unpaid invoice. The company did not respond to questions at the time.
The Paris public prosecutor has said that the company’s liquidation process is not related to the alleged malpractice, and that the firm and its former head could still be found guilty (or innocent) with regard to this.
However, the liquidation is likely to affect the firm’s ability to pay any compensation should this be ordered as a result of it.
Stay alert to unsolicited calls
The GPPEP has warned customers of the firm to beware of certain associations or lawyers who may now contact them unsolicited, promising help or advising them to launch legal action, but who may be looking to profit from the situation.
It said that customers who are worried can contact the GPPEP directly for help.