SACRAMENTO (CBSLA.com) — Following a CBS2 investigation that aired Saturday, a Bellflower couple was invited to speak to California lawmakers Wednesday about a misleading sales pitch they were given by a company offering solar panel installations.
Dan and Kerry Mason said they were approached by a salesman about installing the panels on their roof to save on energy costs and convert to renewable energy. They were told the $37,000 cost would be covered by a government program.
“They came in and he said your utilities are going to be cut in half,” Dan recalled. “And basically, the installation and all would be covered with government programs.” That turned out to false.
The government program the couple thought they signed up for was really a private company that provides loans for energy-efficient upgrades.
And the cost for the panels was added as an assessment to the Masons’ property taxes. At 6 1/2 percent interest, it works out to nearly $5,000 a year for 10 years.
The taxes can be passed on to subsequent homeowners – something the Masons worry will make it difficult to sell their home.
“This program has made it impossible to refinance or sell our property,” Dan told lawmakers on Wednesday.
Kerry said it has hampered her and her husband’s retirement plans. “This program has completely derailed our retirement dreams and goals after being told it would be an added value to selling our home.”
In Goldstein’s hidden camera investigation, he found other contractors were also making similar promises.
Because of his investigation, the company that lent the Masons money said it had suspended the contractor and will work with the Masons to come up with a payment plan.
Assemblyman Matt Dababneh of Van Nuys has authored a bill that would mandate full disclosure before homeowners sign off on the loans.
“I think your story put a real spotlight on the fact that these are people, unfortunately, taking advantage of a lot of consumers,” Dababneh said.
The legislation was approved Wednesday and is expected to make it the full legislature in June.