Is Silicon Solar Ripping Off Its Customers, Or Is It Just Incompetent?

Update: company co-founder Matt addresses some of the accusations in a comment below. Why are there so many complaints online about Silicon Solar? One customer, Dennis, told us how he was lied to by a salesman, then strung along by a woman in customer support until the 14-day return period had expired. A quick Google search turns up dozens of similar stories about being treated badly by customer service, receiving products that don’t work as advertised, and never being given the RMAs necessary to send items back. Writes one reviewer on, “I can’t express the anger and frustration I felt when dealing with this company.”

Dennis and his wife sent this letter to Silicon Solar last December in an attempt to resolve their problems.

1 December 2008

Mr. Adam Farrell, President and CEO
Silicon Solar Inc.
Corporate Headquarters
15 Catherwoord Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850

Dear Mr. Farrell:

On October 15th, 2008 I purchased an 18-volt solar fountain pump system through your company’s web site. At the time of purchase I was told by the salesperson that I could add a battery to the system I purchased if needed.

After a few days of trial, I realized that a battery would be required; so I called your customer service department, spoke with Corey, and requested a battery. I was then told that there was none available for my system because I had been sent an “out of production model,” but that one could be modified to fit my system. After hearing nothing for another week, I called again and, after yet another week, was sent a battery pack for a 6 volt system that would not work.

When I called again today, Corey told me that the only person who knew how to modify a battery pack to fit my system was no longer with the company so I was out of luck. Moreover, she added that since I was beyond the 14 day return period and, notwithstanding my repeated efforts to resolve the situation within that period, I could no longer return the “out of production model” delivered to me.

Since I relied on representations made by an agent of your company when entering into this transaction, and since these representations have proven false with the result that I now have a product that does not meet my expressed needs, and since the 14 day return period expired as a result of these misrepresentations and delays caused entirely by Silicon Solar’s lack of timely and accurate response, I ask that Silicon Solar refund my $301.12.purchase price. In light of my experience with your company, I will return the system I have as soon as I receive the refund.

Please reply within 10 days of the date of this letter. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Dennis says they never heard back from Silicon Solar:

We never received a response of any sort from the company. We also stopped payment through our credit card company and filed a protest with them. We recently received notice that our appeal had been denied and that we would have to pay for the solar pump even though it is completely useless.

And check out these stories from other angry customers:

On, lucalue says she paid via PayPal and never received anything from the company, although they listed a shipping date and shipping number on their website. She contacted the shipping company and was told that the number was invalid and there was no record of the shipment. (There’s a similar story on

Foldedstar and CaliforniaDude both say their batteries either arrived in nonworking condition or failed within months, and were told that there was no warranty on batteries.

Several people report receiving shipments with items missing, and describe problems with getting the missing items replaced.

On, Ian says he never received all the parts of his order, despite several attempts to communicate with the company.

So, what’s going on? On RipOffReport, a customer complains that her PayPal refund wasn’t processed, and that the Silicon Solar employee she spoke with told her it was impossible to get anything done with PayPal. That refund eventually came through, according to her update. We think this might be a case of a company with a couple of screw-ups on staff who can’t process refunds or returns, or maybe they’re trying to move shoddy merchandise and can’t afford the related high volume of returns.

At any rate, if you’re looking for solar-powered fountains or other solar equipment, you might want to look elsewhere.