Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Help Me Howard: Electric Box
It sounded amazing, a box you would install in your home that would cut your monthly electric bill by 30 or 40 percent. So, one South Florida man bought it and then he says it never worked, but is it his fault or the companies fault? It's why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- I go to a lot of peoples homes to do Help Me Howard.
Claudio Conde: "This is my daughter. This is my granddaughter."
And when you walk in and see family pictures on the wall, it says a lot about the family.
Claudio Conde: "This is my wife and me. This is my daughter and husband."
Patrick Fraser: "Why do you have so many pictures?
Claudio Conde: "I like the family, one nice big happy family."
A close family trying to help Claudio after he bought a device that promised to cut his electric bill. It says you save money with electricity, you can save 30 or 40 percent.
Claudio paid the company $449 and they installed the device in February, it's now August.
Patrick Fraser: "Did your electric bill go down 40 percent?"
Claudio Conde: "No."
Patrick Fraser: "How much did it go down?
Claudio Conde: "Nothing."
Iliana Perez: "From February, when it was installed until now, August, every electric bill has come the same way. The same money as last year. The same kilowatts used. No savings whatsoever."
Claudio has the electric bills from FPL to prove the device hasn't cut his electric use at all, and so Claudio and Iliana started calling the company
Iliana Perez: "Music would come on and you could be there forever, I would put it on speaker phone, be working and I would never get ahold of anybody."
Finally, in May, a manager told Claudio they would come out and replace the box with a new one. They never showed up. Claudio called again and again and finally got someone on the phone.
Claudio Conde: "You wanna play with me? From there it went downhill."
Then Iliana talked to a company official and they offered a suggestion.
Iliana Perez: "They said, 'You know what, if you are not happy, try to call your credit card company and get your money back.' I called the credit card company and they practically laughed in my face."
Claudio is now out $449 and every day has to look at a device that does not work. Since he is the patriarch of the Conde family, we will let him bluntly state his opinion.
Claudio Conde: "That box is full of shit."
Six months have passed. The box didn't work. They never replaced it like they promised, Claudio is done.
Patrick Fraser: "At this point he does not care for a new box or for them to even come out here anymore, he just wants a total refund."
Well Howard, Claudio has had the device for six months. Does the law side with the customer or the company?
Howard Finkelstein "The law is on the customers side. "When you purchase an item, the law recognizes what's called, fitness for a particular purpose, and that means, when someone sells you something, there is an implied warrant that it will do what it's supposed to do and if it doesn't you get your money back."
When I talked to the owners of the company, they responded quickly. One of them actually delivered this check for $449 to his house. When I asked why the device didn't work, he told me he had not seen proof of that and that he had many customers who were happy with the device.
Then I called FPL to see if this device could cut your power bill. An FPL spokesman wrote me: "We called those kvar devices and our analysis has not shown any bill reductions for residential or small commercial applications, and we do not recommend these type of devices as energy (bill) saving devices for our customers."
And if you buy a device that you feel isn't delivering as promised, move quickly.
Howard Finkelstein: "As soon as you are on notice that the product is not working, start complaining. In this case, Claudio had to wait a couple of months to determine if his electric bills were going down, but in most cases you know right away, so complain immediately, because the longer you wait, the more difficult it gets to get your money back."
Claudio didn't lower his electric bill, but at least we got his money back, and maybe he can use some to buy frames for more family pictures.
Now Florida Power and Light has some tips for you to cut down on your power bill. FPL is also rolling out what they call smart meters to help their customers control energy use. Once you get one of the meters you can check to see how much electricity you are using every day, even every hour, so you can figure out what appliances are costing you the most.
Shocked by events that have charged you up? Need a jolt of assistance? Hook up with us. No-one ever called us electrifying, but we do have a little power in our back pocket.
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