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After complaint from Desert Hot Springs couple, Tesla installs new solar panels

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Update: 

After our story aired last Tuesday, Tesla sent a tech to the home the following day, and then last Friday, sent out a crew of 8 technicians who installed new solar panels and a new "inverter box" at the Smiths' home.     

Shelley Smith responded to Tesla's response. 

"I hope that Tesla steps it up and starts providing better support to their customers.  However, it shouldn't have to take news coverage to get Tesla to provide a service that they should be providing normally day to day.  I would like to thank Tesla, but in reality it took KESQ to get it done," said Smith.    

Tesla would not comment after the new panels were installed. 

INITIAL REPORT:

The sun shines over their home in Desert Hot Springs.

But, Andrew and Shelley Smith are not happy, because their Tesla Solar panels are not working.

"You make multiple calls to customer service people and they are supposed to be there to help you," said Shelley Smith. 

The previous homeowner leased the panels from Solar City, which later was acquired by Tesla, the company led by high-flying entrepreneur Elon Musk.

"He should stop worrying about building rockets, and fix your solar panels," said Smith.

The smiths say their panels stopped working January 11th, but say Tesla did not notify them until February 13th, by email.

Since the panels stopped working, the couple has been using electricity supplied by So Cal Edison.

The Tesla app on Shelley's phone shows the panels are not producing power.

"Every other company if you don't receive service you don't pay.  So, we shouldn't be paying for a service we're not getting right now," said Andrew Smith. 

Since the panels went out, the Smith's say they've called Tesla at least 7 times to get a technician to come the house to fix the problem.

Tesla tells the couple a service tech will come to their house March 6th.

The Smiths say they've waited too long already.

"As for the contract I have, it states repairs will be made promptly.  I've been told promptly means whatever Tesla wants it to mean, one month, two months, three months, six months," said Shelley.    

Shelley says if they stop making their lease payments for the panels, that a Tesla agent informed them that Tesla would put a lien against their house. 

The couple wants the panels fixed, and, they want to Tesla to reimburse them for their lease payments made, while the system has been down.

"i'm trying to get some repairs made that I'm entitled to," said Shelley.

Ironically, on the other side of their wall sit dozens of solar panels the Smith's presume are working.

Late Tuesday afternoon, a Tesla spokesperson provided this written statement:

"We take customer issues seriously and had already scheduled an appointment for next week to diagnose and fix the issue.  Despite the system not being operational since mid-January, this customer's solar system has produced more than 100% of our expected energy generation, as stated in the lease terms, since it was installed in 2011.  If the cumulative level of energy production drops below 100% of expectations before the lease repair next week, we will reimburse the customer for their lost energy cost, as required by the terms of their lease."

Tom Tucker

Tom Tucker is a veteran broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. Learn more about Tom here.

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