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I-TEAM: State officials working to help customers who have lost money to Sun Badger Solar

Nearly 100 consumer protection complaints have been filed against the company
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Posted at 4:32 PM, Mar 15, 2023

WAUKESHA, Wis. — On Tuesday, the I-Team told you about ongoing litigation and complaints of unfinished work surrounding a local solar panel company. Sun Badger Solar, which is housed in Waukesha, has been under scrutiny for weeks now after customers say they have paid money, but don't have finished projects.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Wisconsin said it has closed more than 60 complaints against Sun Badger Solar, giving it an "F" rating. In early February, the BBB's director of investigations said Sun Badger's accreditation had been removed.

In addition, nearly 100 complaints have been filed through the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). That number has nearly tripled since TMJ4's first story aired Feb. 15.

FULL SUN BADGER SERIES:

"The first thing you'll want to do is clearly try and work with the contractor," Michael Domke said.

Domke's the director of the bureau of consumer protection for DATCP. He said if talking with the contractor doesn't resolve your issue or you believe the company isn't responding promptly, file a complaint with DATCP. To file a report, you can call DATCP or go to their website.

"We're gonna try and provide that remedy for them with the contractor, so we'll reach back and forth, and be that communication liaison between them," Domke explained.

If there's still no resolution, Domke said DATCP will enforce a restitution order or settlement with the company in order to get your money back. However, Sun Badger Solar customers may not be so lucky.

"In a situation where you have dozens of complaints against a contractor, it's gonna be more difficult because they're probably not going to have the money to make all of the situations right, and there's not necessarily a pecking order on who gets their money first. That all handles through bankruptcy court or adjudication," Domke said.

Sun Badger customers who paid with a credit card can file with their bank for fraudulent charges. However, cash customers don't have that same luxury, especially with big purchases.

"It's just one added opportunity to give yourself a chance to recoup your loss by using a credit card," Domke explained.

DATCP said it's crucial to check state laws before signing any contractor work. In Wisconsin, there are date requirements for state and expected finish. This also accounts for delays, like weather or supply-chain issues, however, the law states contractors must communicate that delay with customers. If you're past that finish date, DATCP recommends filing a complaint.

If you're looking to hire a contractor, there are a few things you should do beforehand. Always check online reviews, but take them with a grain of salt. Get at least three estimates and have the contractors come to your home to look at what's being installed or worked on. As the company, if they sub-contract any of their work. If so, find out with who and ask for reviews. When you decide on a contractor, get everything in writing. Lastly, request a lien waiver, especially with larger home improvement projects. In the off-chance your contractor doesn't pay for needed supplies, the waiver ensures a lien isn't placed on your property.

If you're a Sun Badger customer who lives in Wisconsin and wants to file a complaint to DATCP, click here.

We know there are customers who live in Minnesota and Illinois as well. For those two states, you'll want to file a complaint with the Attorney General's office.

For Minnesota, click here. For Illinois, click here.


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