Buyer Beware is the Topic

I have been in business for many years as an electrical contractor.  My career started as an apprentice in 1989. That was 4 years of learning from great teachers. In 1994 I become a red seal journeyman electrician. It was then when I really started learning because I no longer had a journeyman as a safety net to fall back on. I was now responsible for teaching others and I took pride in the work I completed and in the training I was giving the new tradesmen. It was a great experience. After many years of being a journeyman electrician, I decided to open my own electrical business. That is when I became a master electrician because it was necessary for me to pull permits for different electrical projects. It also gave me the ability to inspect electrical projects. That was another adventure and a huge learning experience for me. The experience while running my company taught me how to interact with clients and how to apply ethics in business. In that environment we needed to provide excellent service with fair and reasonable prices. We had a lot of competition so it was a must. Here in Costa Rica it doesn’t seem to be a similar environment. In Costa Rica there seems to be a shortage of skilled labor as well as reputable businesses. I believe that those two things are connected.

Now we come to the topic at hand, Buyer Beware. In that environment in Canada you were not given multiple opportunities to act badly as a businessman or a tradesman. If you messed up and treated the clients badly, word got around fast. If the business practices were questionable or even illegal, then you would face harsh consequences. It was much different then what I see here in Costa Rica. I’m believe two of the main reasons we see bad behavior are because of the lack of skilled tradesmen as well as different laws and how they apply to businesses and clients here in Costa Rica. I’m certainly not a lawyer and I don’t claim to be. So I will not focus on the actual laws here. Instead, I will focus on some business practices that I have saw that I believe are not reputable.     

Being from North America I took reputable business practices for granted that they would be normal here.  Some businesses do a great job while others break every golden rule known, and somehow they get away with it. One troubling practice I’ve saw here is regarding client deposits for equipment. In North America we assume that those deposits will only be used for OUR equipment purchases. Seems straight forward right?   Well be careful. You would also assume that these businesses are doing the right thing for you if they are in business. Well think again. They don’t all do that.  Make sure that you have a contract that makes it impossible for them to use your deposit for anything other than for your equipment. This is crazy to have to explain, but it happens here. I have witnessed this at one solar installation company here in Costa Rica.  Their abbreviations are CRSS. They would take the clients deposit of 70% and then use that deposit to purchase equipment for previous clients from months earlier. This was a cycle for them that the deposit made today would go to purchase equipment for the client in the past, as far back as 1 year I saw.  As you can imagine this is similar to a ponzie scheme. At some point, the house of cards will fall.  It’s just a matter of when. Remember if this is their practice today; ask yourself why they are doing this.  Being in financial difficulty is likely the reason. Buyer Beware.

Here are some tips. Do your homework. Ask questions before jumping in with both feet.  Keep in mind that websites can be deceiving, the companies past reputation may have been good at one point, but how are they now. Ask to talk to past clients for references, make sure to ask for recent references,  within the past three to six months.  Look into comment boards on Facebook. Try to get as much information as possible and use your head when getting into business with them. It’s a good idea to get a feel for their compentency by asking questions that you already know the answer too. Go on YouTube to research the equipment that you plan to purchase.  Do your homework.   

It’s difficult to get all the information to make the right choice.  By asking questions you should get a good feeling for their competency level which should help you to understand their business practices. Competent skilled tradesmen are not willing to damage their reputation by acting badly in business. If something does go wrong skilled tradesman usually want to fix the issue so it is resolved correctly. That’s a great sign of a good business. Skilled tradesmen take pride in their work. Skilled tradesmen want to stay in business.  

In closing, please be careful out there. Ask lots of questions to check for competency, knowledge of products and material. Are they skilled to do the job correctly which means,  “Do they have the actual skilled certifications to be competent”. That doesn’t mean a 10 hour online product course. That isn’t skilled experience. These questions  usually help to see if that business is reputable.  If they don’t answer questions intelligently that’s your first red flag. Remember, most skilled tradesman don’t want to damage their reputations by practicing poor business practices.  Good luck out there. To contact me send your emails to or by cell or what’s app at 506 6330-5137. You can also follow me at Sunny Side Solar Solutions facebook page to read my weekly articles on many different solar topics. These same topics can be read at my facebook group at Costa Rica Solar Installation Reviews along with other important information related to solar.