WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - It was a promise to use the power of the sun to help you burn less cash in your home.
"He made it sound so good," explained homeowner Sandra Pearl.
Pearl bought into the sales pitch for solar energy with a water heater.
"What was the big promise for you?" NewsChannel 5 Consumer Watchdog Strathman asked.
"That my electric bill would go down, $75 at least," explained Pearl.
A salesman's enticing promise made also to Dorothy Laing.
"Oh, he made it sound so good," explained Laing.
Both women are widows and retired looking for ways to make every cent of their fixed income count.
"I was expecting a huge savings," explained Laing.
Both women agreed to finance nearly $10-thousand in hopes of saving more in the long run.
Laing says she hasn't seen any savings in her energy bill.
"I feel like I really got screwed," explained Pearl.
They bought their solar systems from a company they knew as Energy Solutions of Florida. It's owned by RenuEn and based in Jupiter.
Customers say they were promised big savings
"They talked about how cheap it will be," explained Laing.
Laing kept a worksheet the salesman used to show her all the savings.
A federal tax credit for $3,000, a rebate from FPL for another $1,000 along with the monthly savings on their energy bill. She says she was promised the solar water heater would cost nothing.
"The zero that's what he pushed the zero," explained Laing.
Energy Solutions and RenuEn CEO responds
We showed that paperwork to Energy Solutions and RenuEn CEO Jeff Nemes.
"This is confusing me," Nemes said.
"So you can understand how the customers are confused," questioned Strathman.
"Of course. Of course," explained Nemes.
Nemes says he didn't authorize that paperwork, and didn't authorize a flyer the Consumer Watchdog obtained from another customer promising no out of pocket costs.
"This was not approved by our company. This was not mailed by our company," explained Nemes.
While he says he didn't approve the documents used by outside salesmen, Nemes promoted the company's sales pitch on a radio show earlier this year.
"It will cost you nothing out of pocket," explained Nemes on the radio show.
And again when I pressed further.
"If you have savings that are equal to your payments then there are no net costs out of pocket," explained Nemes.
But Laing and Pearl say they haven't seen the energy savings or the FPL rebate.
"I'm not going to be able to get anything," explained Pearl of the FPL rebate.
Steps have to be taken to reserve rebate money before any work is done. FPL says that did not happen in both cases. Click here to learn more about the requirements with FPL's energy savings programs .
"Any customer that hasn't gotten it, that contacts us, we'll make sure they get it because that is an issue that came from sales," explained Nemes.
After she complained, RenuEn sent Pearl half of the money she was promised through the rebate.
"Did that seem fair to you?" Strathman questioned.
"No, but I figured it was better than nothing," explained Pearl.
"Now you are telling me she wants another bite of the apple? If she wants another $500 we'll give her another $500," explained Nemes.
Since our interview, RenuEn sent Pearl another $500, covering all $1000 of the rebate she says she was promised.
RenuEn says it began refunding money, spending thousands to satisfy customers, when it started getting complaints.
Nemes said he fired and sued the outside salesmen.
"The minute we find wrongdoing in this company we stop it, correct it, and fix it," Nemes said.
Company says it experienced record growth
Problems that surfaced after the company experienced what it called record sales growth. In the second quarter, the company said it saw 60% growth.
It made millions off customers like Pearl and Laing. Nemes bragged about those sales in a radio interview earlier this year.
"We did over $400,000 in sales this month already and we are 2 weeks in," explained Nemes.
Big money for the company being run by a twice convicted felon. A former police officer who pleaded guilty to taking a bribe.
"So there's some trust issues," questioned Strathman.
"There should be. There should be. And I'm fair game. My past is fair game," explained Nemes. "We're not doing anything wrong. Nor do we intend to do anything wrong. People can use my background. They're always going to and I accept that."
He's moved on from his past, and says he's no longer using an outside sales force to market his company and products.
Pearl and Laing can't move the sales pitch they heard at their homes, as they face a growing five figure bill.
"Do you have the money to pay the bill?" we asked Laing.
"No I do not," she replied.
Protecting your next home improvement investment
The money issue wasn't the only problem for both Laing and Pearl. They both had some major water problems that went on for months after having their water heaters installed. What we uncovered when we started asking questions about those problems could help save you money and heartache on your next home project.
WATCH THE VIDEO HEREwptv.com/money/consumer/energy-solutions-of-florida-renuen-customers-question-promises-of-savings-ceo-blames-salesmen