3 On Your Side

AG Office: Valley solar company violated Consumer Fraud Act

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Chris Renfro does his best to get around and when he's not using his crutches, he uses his wheelchair.

"With my injuries, I have to elevate my legs a couple hours a day or they swell and I end up with infections in my legs," Renfro said. 

Although a lot of his monthly budget goes to paying for his medical condition, he says a big chunk actually goes toward something he wishes he never bought. And that purchase, he says, started with a telemarketing call even though Renfro says he's on the Do Not Call Registry.

"They said it was a federally funded program and they were trying to get everyone's utilities cost down," Renfro remembers the telemarketer saying.

Renfro says he was definitely interested in lowering his utilities, so a company claiming to be with the Go Green campaign sent out a representative from a company called Discover Energy Solutions. The company is also known as Go Green or Paniolo Builders.

But according to Renfro, the visit turned into a hard sales pitch and he wound up purchasing a solar system that's supposed to heat his hot water heater and save him money. The price tag for this state-of-the-art solar system was more than $8,000. It's an amount he's currently making monthly payments on.

"The way I look at it, I got scammed," he said. "The way they look at it, they just want the money I owe."

Well, the Arizona Attorney General's Office is cracking down on the solar company and just announced it's reached a settlement after finding Discover Energy Solutions violated the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.

According to documents, the company made thousands of unsolicited telemarketing calls to people who were on the government's Do Not Call list.

The agency also says consumers did not receive the benefits and cost savings that were promised during the sales pitch.

Renfro agrees.

"I doubt there is much of a savings when you compare how much electricity this thing uses when my old hot water system didn't use any electricity," a disgusted Renfro said. 

As a result, under the consent judgment, Discover Energy Solutions will pay $55,000 in restitution to victims.

The company has also agreed to not violate the Consumer Fraud Act again.

As for Renfro, he thought going solar might be a good thing. But now, he says he wishes he never got involved because he's still on the hook for $8,000.

"It kind of hurts to admit that I was gullible to pay that kind of money for it, and that I was doing the right thing for the environment," he said. 

On Your Side tried to get hold of Discover Energy Solutions but never heard back from the company.

[ Click here to view judgment in solar telemarketing lawsuit ]

[ Click here for the National Do Not Call Registry ]

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