CCLS Delivers Disadvantaged from Fraudulent Contract

Roberto Garibay, 73, walked into Central California Legal Services (CCLS) devastated at the prospect of having to pay a debt that would outlive him. He was a victim of a solar company’s predatory scheme to deceive unknowing savings-minded consumers who look to seize opportunities to reduce high monthly Central Valley energy bills. The solar company informed Garibay that they would install the solar panels on his home at no cost and after some period he could sell energy back to the Pacific Gas & Electric company (PG&E). In reality, the solar company charged Garibay an installation fee of nearly $1000 and burdened him with a debt greater than $35,000 to be paid over the next 25 years. If Garibay had the good fortune to live to the age of 98, he would still be burdened with the responsibility of paying debt rather than enjoying his life and his family.

“There is always going to be people that fall under low income who will need help.

I am very happy with the help they gave me.” – Roberto Garibay

When Garibay visited CCLS, Nora Salazar-Hernandez helped him, saving him from the $35,280.60 solar panel loan that would most likely outlive him, even orchestrating the reimbursement of the $980.52 installation fee. Roberto Garibay was the first of many clients to walk through the doors of CCLS victims of a solar scam of this nature. This is just one of the many examples of Central California Legal Services living out its vision and mission. CCLS is a private, not-for-profit, public interest law firm established to fight injustice, and to provide education and representation to low-income individuals, families, organizations, and communities. The organization has been engaging in this important work for over half-a-century.

Video Transcript

A young man came to the house telling me that he worked a program under President Obama.

That they provided free solar panels, free, labor, and that they could event put them on the roof for free because I qualified.

I said that’s good I’m going to save energy.

The panels they were going to provide would produce the energy that I used and that I didn’t need to pay their company and that whatever was leftover was going to be sold to PG&E.

A year from then PG&E would send me a check.

With that in mind, I accepted everything because it was free, everything was free so all was good.

They told me that I had signed a contract. I told them I didn’t sign anything.

No, but you read the contract on the Internet and we sent you a contract, you read it and you called us.

You said you read it an that you were in agreement for us to install the panels.

I said you guys never showed me any contract and I didn’t sign anything.

When I met Ms. Nora she was very polite.

I trusted her right away.

She told me I was the first one [with this type of case] and the process might take longer because  there wasn’t more than one case.

She worked really hard and maintained communication and said the case was ready.

This is where we are at and she was great at communicating via phone.

I trusted her a lot.

The day I was going to sign the contract once everything was resolved.

I noticed she had all her case files separate and I asked her if she had a lot of work.

She said it’s all solar [cases]

You were the first one that opened [the case load] and now look.

These are only the ones [I’m working on] today. I have more in the back

I was this big of all those [cases].

In reality they are abusing a lot [of people] and more of those who don’t know how to defend themselves.

They involve you by lying about the benefits just so they can make money.

That’s why it is good that there is an agency that helps people.

There is always going to be people that fall under low income who will need help.

I am very happy with the help they gave me.

Thank you

Keep helping people because what [CCLS] is doing is great.

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