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Elderly father exploited by salesman

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Latest post Sat, Jul 11 2015 11:03 AM by karen2222. 28 replies.
  • Thu, Jul 9 2015 10:32 AM In reply to

    Re: Elderly father exploited by salesman

    o0Ampy0o:
    His credit has already been damaged.

    He, or you on his behalf, can dispute any negative item on his credit report.

     

    o0Ampy0o:
    If there is no legal recourse to fight against this solar company I am inclined to make them wait to see any money.

    Aside from the damage to credit, nothing has happened to your father for which he can seek recourse (although, as noted previously, a report to the AG wouldn't be a terrible idea).

     

    o0Ampy0o:
    If they place a lien on the property I will take care of it before it has a chance to delay sale of the property after he has died……but no sooner.

    As I think I mentioned in one of my prior responses, a mechanic's lien claimant has 90 days after the date of recording to sue to foreclose on the lien.  If the claimant fails to do so and allows the lien to become stale, there is an expedited procedure that the homeowner can use to have the lien removed, and which allows the homeowner to recover his/her attorneys' fees in connection therewith.  If you're interested, you can read about it here:  http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=CIV&division=4.&title=2.&part=6.&chapter=4.&article=7.

    As for the balance of your post, you might want to consider a conservatorship (essentially an adult guardianship).  If that's something you want to consider, please consult with a local attorney for advice.

  • Thu, Jul 9 2015 11:12 AM In reply to

    • harrylime
      Consumer
    • Top 100 Contributor
    • Joined on Sat, May 31 2008
    • TX
    • Posts 549

    Re: Elderly father exploited by salesman

    Are there any consumer affairs reporters in the local media?

  • Fri, Jul 10 2015 12:28 AM In reply to

    • o0Ampy0o
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Mon, Jul 6 2015
    • CA
    • Posts 8

    Re: Elderly father exploited by salesman

     

    ca19lawyer2:

    o0Ampy0o:
    His credit has already been damaged.

    He, or you on his behalf, can dispute any negative item on his credit report.

     

    o0Ampy0o:
    If there is no legal recourse to fight against this solar company I am inclined to make them wait to see any money.

    Aside from the damage to credit, nothing has happened to your father for which he can seek recourse (although, as noted previously, a report to the AG wouldn't be a terrible idea)....

    At this point in time this contract fee is not past due and is not part of his damaged credit. He had lost track of his finances. It took time for it to be discovered. It took time for him to admit he was struggling and to allow me to help him. It took more time for me to figure out what accounts he had and their status. Delinquent payments had been reported. I have not checked but I am certain that he has several valid strikes against him. I have now paid off his outstanding balances and he is now current on everything but he had been late by several months on some accounts. 

    I am interested in your opinion about delaying payment of this contract fee until the very last moment.

    I don't like the idea of paying this business anything. I think they exploited a weakness and are, in a sense, thieves but apparently they did it without breaking any rules or laws. Now there are rules and laws enforcing their right to his money. I am considering paying the money in a timely manner while informing them of my Attorney General complaint and perhaps even making it clear that I intend to describe this event in every public review platform I can find. 

    It is a long shot that they would let this bill go unpaid. They could just turn it over to a collection agency but I suspect in their line of work and seeing how they have handled the transaction with my father they are probably well-versed in their options. If they pursued a lien it is likely that they would understand the requirements of following through on it. It is highly unlikely they would pursue a lien and not see it through to fruition. 

    The complaint to the Attorney General and bad reviews are not going to discourage this business from pursuing his money. I want people and an appropriate governing body informed so it is on record for the future. Letting this business know that I am doing this may discourage them from repeating this with other people. They would see how they are not getting away with it untarnished. I certainly have a right to contact the Attorney General's office and describe what happened. It is up to them to evaluate what is presented. Do you agree that the First Amendment guarantees the rights of consumers to express their opinion about a business and honestly describe their experience? 

    Although it is relatively insignificant it may be the most powerful way to end this matter. If, on the other hand, I tell them of my plans to report them while I make them wait for the money it may only serve to remind them that there is an outstanding bill and a continuing irritant causing them grief which in turn could encourage them to take a more aggressive approach. 

    How do you feel about this?

     

  • Fri, Jul 10 2015 12:43 AM In reply to

    • o0Ampy0o
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Mon, Jul 6 2015
    • CA
    • Posts 8

    Re: Elderly father exploited by salesman

    Also, as the agent for Durable Power of Attorney can debt collectors nag me like they would the principle?

  • Fri, Jul 10 2015 9:57 AM In reply to

    Re: Elderly father exploited by salesman

    o0Ampy0o:
    I am interested in your opinion about delaying payment of this contract fee until the very last moment.

    I'm not quite sure I understand what you're asking.  Obviously, if a bill isn't due until X date, there's nothing wrong with waiting until X date to make payment.  If you want to force the contractor to make a choice between letting it go and liening the property and/or suing your father, that's certainly an option.  As I noted previously, even if the contractor records a lien, I think it's probably unlikely that the contractor will sue to foreclose.  As long as your father is living, having a stale mechanic's lien on his home won't affect him unless he wants to refi or something like that, at which point he (or you under the POA) can hire a lawyer to seek to have the lien removed.  If the contractor simply sues for breach of contract, you/your father may or may not elect to mount a defense based on his competency or lack thereof.  Or you might elect to let the matter go by way of default.  Will a judgment affect your father?  I don't know.  Does he have any non-exempt assets or sources of income.  Your posts thus far suggest he may not, in which case the judgment will have little impact on your father, and the issue can be dealt with at the time his estate is being administered.

    To sum all that up, I suggest you do a cost-benefit analysis of the various options.

     

    o0Ampy0o:
    The complaint to the Attorney General and bad reviews are not going to discourage this business from pursuing his money.

    Maybe; maybe not.  Maybe someone at the AG's office already has a stack of complaints against this same company and one more will be the straw that breaks the camel's back and prompts the AG actually to take action.  Who knows?

  • Fri, Jul 10 2015 9:58 AM In reply to

    Re: Elderly father exploited by salesman

    Sure, but (a) does any debt collector know you have the DPOA? and (b) just because you have a DPOA doesn't mean you have control of a bank account.

  • Fri, Jul 10 2015 2:14 PM In reply to

    Re: Elderly father exploited by salesman

    o0Ampy0o:
    The complaint to the Attorney General and bad reviews are not going to discourage this business from pursuing his money. I want people and an appropriate governing body informed so it is on record for the future. Letting this business know that I am doing this may discourage them from repeating this with other people. They would see how they are not getting away with it untarnished.

    You're very naive if you think that's going to change how they do business since they didn't break any rules or laws in the first place. But if it makes you feel better to do, go ahead.

    Just understand one thing. Until a judge says they did something wrong all you have are unproven allegations.

    o0Ampy0o:
    Do you agree that the First Amendment guarantees the rights of consumers to express their opinion about a business and honestly describe their experience? 

    Yes, I agree.

    Unfortunately, the First Amendment doesn't prevent a lawsuit from being handed to you. Once that happens you get to pay a lawyer thousands of dollars to defend you.

    So, unless YOU are willing to file suit and seek a declaratory judgment that the company did wrong, I suggest you be very careful about what you say, to whom you say it, and where you say it.

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Fri, Jul 10 2015 4:35 PM In reply to

    Re: Elderly father exploited by salesman

    o0Ampy0o:

    Also, as the agent for Durable Power of Attorney can debt collectors nag me like they would the principle?

    I googled that question and found this on legalzoom.  If it's right, then yes they can try to get you to pay - but only out of your father's assets, of course.

    Since the solar company has a copy of your POA, they might give a copy to the debt collector, too.  You could hope that they will forget to.

  • Fri, Jul 10 2015 6:20 PM In reply to

    Re: Elderly father exploited by salesman

    o0Ampy0o:
    The complaint to the Attorney General and bad reviews are not going to discourage this business from pursuing his money. I want people and an appropriate governing body informed so it is on record for the future. Letting this business know that I am doing this may discourage them from repeating this with other people.

    You have nothing to lose by contacting the AG or posting bad reviews, but these are distractions, really, and extremely unlikely to do you any good.  If you tell the solar company / threaten to do these things, it will only make you look silly and ineffectual, IMHO.

    In your shoes I would do one of two things next:  pay the $2k cancellation fee and be done with it (after first reading the contract carefully to make sure that will make the solar company go away), or get a consultation with the best local lawyer you can find with expertise in elder law and consumer law.  In other words, avoid the fight entirely, or make sure you know as much as you can about what will be involved (including demands on your time) before you make the decision to jump in.

    If you choose to fight, you need to find out or figure out what sort of witness your father is going to be, and make sure you choose a legal strategy that's consistent with his likely testimony.

  • Fri, Jul 10 2015 10:34 PM In reply to

    • o0Ampy0o
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Mon, Jul 6 2015
    • CA
    • Posts 8

    Re: Elderly father exploited by salesman

    adjuster jack:
    You're very naive if you think that's going to change how they do business since they didn't break any rules or laws in the first place. But if it makes you feel better to do, go ahead.
    Just understand one thing. Until a judge says they did something wrong all you have are unproven allegations.

    My father is a frail, old and unhealthy man. It is a significant detail that is obvious when you see and speak with him. I am not expected to prove this when describing it. His age and health are factors when considering the situation.

    A salesman ought to know what they are selling. With something like solar I imagine there is a list of bullet points to present. I have not seen anything that an old unhealthy man would gain from such an investment at this stage in his life.  

    Would you care if it were your father or you being told you needed something that would take $2000 from you when you don't need it? Regardless of whether you willingly signed up at one time. Would you do so if you understood you would only lose through the transaction?

    Perhaps I am naive believing it would make a difference if people learned of these circumstances.

    Reviews everywhere are full of unproven allegations. The format does not provide opportunities to present evidence. In my first post I mentioned that this company has a low review rating on Yelp. Those experiences occured before my father's and their publicly displayed descriptions did not stop this from happening.

    I said I am doing it so it is on record. If no one says anything it definitely will not change. If enough people describe their negative experiences the company may have to change or not be able to stay in business or at least some people have a chance to avoid them. Unfortunately there are plenty of people who do not read Yelp or similar and if they look to the BBB they probably believe a good BBB rating means they are a good company.

  • Fri, Jul 10 2015 10:59 PM In reply to

    Re: Elderly father exploited by salesman

    o0Ampy0o:
    A salesman ought to know what they are selling. With something like solar I imagine there is a list of bullet points to present. I have not seen anything that an old unhealthy man would gain from such an investment at this stage in his life.

    What about resale value?  If and when he sells the home, the buyer will probably be younger, and WILL benefit from the energy-cost savings.  It's my personal belief that energy prices are not so high right now that a solar installation will pay for itself in resale value, but that could change.  And I could even be wrong in the first place.  How much is the local electric company paying for solar energy fed into their system?

    o0Ampy0o:
    I said I am doing it so it is on record. If no one says anything it definitely will not change. If enough people describe their negative experiences the company may have to change or not be able to stay in business or at least some people have a chance to avoid them.

    Nobody is saying you shouldn't complain.  Just that doing so, especially doing so in a way that misstates any facts (claiming or implying that they violated laws if they didn't, for example), would open you to some risk of being sued for defamation.  Unfortunately, it's a sad fact of life that lawsuits cost time and money, so even if you win, you will probably still be out your attorney fees.

    And more importantly, the more brain energy you give to complaining, the less is left over for dealing with the problem at hand - deciding what to do about this company and its demand for money.

  • Fri, Jul 10 2015 11:00 PM In reply to

    • o0Ampy0o
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Mon, Jul 6 2015
    • CA
    • Posts 8

    Re: Elderly father exploited by salesman

    ca19lawyer2:
    ....even if the contractor records a lien, I think it's probably unlikely that the contractor will sue to foreclose.  As long as your father is living, having a stale mechanic's lien on his home won't affect him unless he wants to refi or something like that, at which point he (or you under the POA) can hire a lawyer to seek to have the lien removed.  If the contractor simply sues for breach of contract, you/your father may or may not elect to mount a defense based on his competency or lack thereof.  Or you might elect to let the matter go by way of default...............Does he have any non-exempt assets or sources of income.  Your posts thus far suggest he may not, in which case the judgment will have little impact on your father, and the issue can be dealt with at the time his estate is being administered.

    To sum all that up, I suggest you do a cost-benefit analysis of the various options.

    He does not have any non-exempt assets or sources of income.

     

     

  • Fri, Jul 10 2015 11:33 PM In reply to

    • o0Ampy0o
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Mon, Jul 6 2015
    • CA
    • Posts 8

    Re: Elderly father exploited by salesman

    karen2222:
    What about resale value?  If and when he sells the home, the buyer will probably be younger, and WILL benefit from the energy-cost savings.  It's my personal belief that energy prices are not so high right now that a solar installation will pay for itself in resale value, but that could change.  And I could even be wrong in the first place.  How much is the local electric company paying for solar energy fed into their system?

    My father has no desire to sell the house. He would not benefit from this. Generally as far as I gathered skimming here and there the amount of time it takes to pay off the installation will exceed his estimated remaining time before he dies. He has cancer and is not pursuing treatment.

     

    karen2222:
    the more brain energy you give to complaining, the less is left over for dealing with the problem at hand - deciding what to do about this company and its demand for money.

    If I report this to the AG and describe this in reviews I will do so after I have committed to a path. I don't plan to do this before choosing how to handle the debt with the company. The way I do it will be part of the process.

    I have not mistated any details that I know of. Here in the context of this particular forum legalities are emphasized. I understand the need to choose my words carefully and appreciate being advised of the potential problems if mishandled. I now know that so far as I have described of the situation nothing has been illegal about the way this business conducted itself, however, outside on the context of this forum many people will probably agree that their conduct was disgraceful.

     

  • Sat, Jul 11 2015 11:03 AM In reply to

    Re: Elderly father exploited by salesman

    o0Ampy0o:

    karen2222:
    What about resale value?  If and when he sells the home, the buyer will probably be younger, and WILL benefit from the energy-cost savings.  It's my personal belief that energy prices are not so high right now that a solar installation will pay for itself in resale value, but that could change.  And I could even be wrong in the first place.  How much is the local electric company paying for solar energy fed into their system?

    My father has no desire to sell the house. He would not benefit from this. Generally as far as I gathered skimming here and there the amount of time it takes to pay off the installation will exceed his estimated remaining time before he dies. He has cancer and is not pursuing treatment.

    I was just devil's advocating...pointing out that just because he personally isn't likely to receive many of the energy-cost savings of this home improvement doesn't mean it'd be of no benefit to him or his heirs.  The improvement to the home doesn't go poof when he dies, it goes to the next owner.  Just warning you that you might be overstating your case a bit.

    o0Ampy0o:
    I now know that so far as I have described of the situation nothing has been illegal about the way this business conducted itself, however, outside on the context of this forum many people will probably agree that their conduct was disgraceful.

    Yes, even within the context of this forum it sounds disgraceful.  You certainly have my sympathy.

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