Ikea’s solar offer in Germany criticized by consumer association

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By pv magazine Germany.

With Swedish home furnishing giant Ikea selling solar modules online in Germany since January, consumer association Verbraucherzentrale NRW has told pv magazine the advertising campaign to promote the solar offer is misleading, as it is not sufficiently clear on the roles of Ikea and its partner Solarcentury Microgen (Germany) GmbH.

Whilst Ikea carries advertising online and in its stores for the “Solstrale” modules in Germany, Solarcentury is the company customers should contact in the event of problems. Verbraucherzentrale NRW says that is not made clear, as required under German law, in the adverts or in the documents customers complete to order the system.

The consumer body has warned the two companies it will begin legal action unless the advertising campaign is amended by May 10. Ikea has already changed its PV offer on its web page to make clear to customers Solarcentury Microgen is a contract partner.

False impression

“Anyone who believes they have a contract with Ikea has an image in their heads,” said Holger Schneidewindt, a lawyer at the Verbraucherzentrale NRW, “a … large company with a big network and customer service. These can be decisive purchase criteria. But these expectations are disappointed at the Solstråle offer. Rather, Ikea is just the marketing and launch platform and in no way [the] contact company for customers, for example, in warranty and warranty cases.”

The consumer organization also said many parts of the general terms and conditions relating to Solarcentury Microgen could be defined as inadmissible and thus ineffective, including clauses relating to price changes, withdrawal from the contract and installation guarantees.

Verbraucherzentrale NRW added, the reason a €200 prepayment was required for the solar system was completely unclear. That and other clauses of the Solarcentury terms and conditions were unacceptable, said Schneidewindt.

Ikea also sells residential PV systems in Italy, Belgium, Poland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.K. In a recent interview with Signe Antvorskov Krag, global development leader for Ikea’s home solar business, pv magazine editor Becky Beetz discussed the company’s business models for PV.