LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Dan Mason of Bellflower had solar panels installed on his roof.
“I just think solar is a good idea,” he said.
He and his wife Kerry are nearing retirement and hired All American Design after hearing their sales pitch.
“They came in and he said your utilities are going to be cut in half. And basically the installation and all would be covered with government programs. Rebate programs,” Mason said.
But it turns out the government program they thought they signed up for was really a private company called Ygrene. It provides financing for energy-efficient upgrades to homes.
And the $37,000 cost of the solar wasn’t covered by a government program at all but is paid through an assessment on their property taxes. At 6 1/2 percent interest, it works out to nearly $5,000 a year for 10 years.
The was no mention that the cost was going on to their property taxes, Mason said.
Nyssa Wilson of the state contractors license board says the Mason are typical targets of salespeople pushing green energy.
“I would say a good number of our complaints come from the elderly,” Wilson said.
So, Goldstein had a senior citizen call several contractors, and he set up a house with hidden cameras to see what would happen.
“My name is Larry from All American Design,” the sales representative said.
All American Design is the company the Masons used. And they say Larry Sanchez is the same salesman who came to their house.
He told the client that their home would be part of a HERO program — that stands for Home Energy Renovation Opportunity. It’s a private company like Ygrene, approved by local governments to set up repayment of loans through the homeowner’s property taxes. The money can be used for anything from air-conditioning to windows to doors — it’s jut not a government entity. But you’d never know it from his pitch.
In turn, the HERO loans make it harder for many homeowners to sell their property. In fact, only a third have.
What Sanchez didn’t say was that state licensing board has recommended that All American Design’s license be suspended or revoked because of numerous unrelated violations.
When Goldstein showed up, the sales pitch was over.
When asked if people had trouble selling their homes if HERO was attached, Sanchez said “Talk to HERO.”
And Sanchez had a parting thought.
He said to Goldstein, You suck, by the way.”
The Masons say their effort to go green has now derailed their retirement plans if it means they can’t sell their home.