Family pays $26,000 for solar panels they never got

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (KSDK) - A family is out $26,000 after paying for solar panels and never receiving them.

The family is fighting back against the Belleville company, hoping to get their money back. The Better Business Bureau says there are a handful of victims that have spent anywhere from $10,000 to $62,000.

The Voelkel family says with their second child due next week, they need their money back. In December, 2012, Greg Voelkel gave A1 Energy, LLC $26,750 for the installation of solar panels. Now, a year and three months later, they are still waiting for their product.

"When you take out a second mortgage on your home to pay someone $26,000, it's a big chunk," Greg Voelkel said.

He says soon after paying the Belleville company,he started getting the run-around.

"It's the weather, its manpower, it's whatever then it was like to response at all," he said.

Voelkel says this went on for months, until he went to the Better Business Bureau to file a complaint. The BBB investigated, found other victims and lowered A1 Energy's rating to grade "F." The company, which used to be located on Iowa avenue in Belleville, is not longer operational.

The former president of the company Jason Hark would not talk on camera, but admits yes, "As a company we messed up." Hark says he tried to work with the clients, but when the news broke about the company not fulfilling their contracts, business dropped off. They had to lay off employees and eventually close their doors.

"He didn't try to work with me," Voelkel said. "I mean he didn't try to call me and say 'I would like to make up for it', the best way to make up for it is, 'Hey, I want to pay your money back.'"

Voelkel says he has reached out to the Illinois Attorney General's office and has been told that now that the company is no longer running, they can't do anything.

Still they are optimistic that somehow they will get their money, even if they have to go to civil court.


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