Local man says he was defrauded and cheated by solar panel company

“Take care of your roof,” said Bernard Murphy.

Bernard Murphy is a changed man. He now shows a lot of respect to his roof.

”If you’ve got a real good roof don’t let people go up there drilling holes in it,” Murphy said.

In his quest to reduce his carbon footprint and electric bill, Murphy, a self- described tree hugger, turned to 1-800-Solar-USA.

“Unfortunately I had kind of stars in my eyes and didn’t do due diligence and kind of picked somebody off the internet and didn’t do proper background checks,” Murphy said. “I regret that now.”

Murphy says the short version of his ordeal can be summed up in three words. He was stupid.

“The salesman came out was real nice, showed me the glossy brochures,” Murphy said. “I just believed him and I’ve been kicking myself ever since.”

“My client paid over $30,000 for this system and essentially he got only a defective system in return,” said attorney George Edwards.

And a whole lot of holes in his roof according to a lawsuit Murphy filed against Altitude Marketing which does business as 1-800-Solar-USA.

“The system was supposed to supply 5000 watts of power,” Edwards said. “It barely supplied 3 to 4000 watts of power.”

The lawsuit claims Murphy was supposed to get an energy audit report to chronicle the system's increased energy efficiency and lower energy bills.

“My client requested and requested the energy audit report and they never supplied it," Edwards said. “They didn’t supply it because they knew the system didn’t work.”

Just the trouble Murphy says he had with the installation alone sounds like a Three Stooges movie.

“Three other electricians showed up to fix what the first people had done and one of them came through the sheet rock,” Murphy said. “Fell through the sheet rock this was right before Christmas.”

“He actually had workmen falling through the roof onto his Christmas tree,” Edwards said. “What kind of Christmas is that.”

Murphy is far from being the only customer to file suit against 1-800-Solar-USA.

“They’ve been sued in multiple states,” said attorney Issa Paul Tannous. “They’ve been sued in Colorado, South Carolina, California and there’s class action suits against them in those states.”

Murphy prevailed in his lawsuit.

“The judge has basically said my client's claims are true and here’s the money for that,” said Edwards.

When installed properly solar panels can work, but the systems are expensive and it can take many years before consumers see savings on their electric bills.

Now all Bernard Murphy sees when he looks at his roof is remorse and regret.

“I feel silly that I got duped into it,” Murphy said.  

We called the Houston and Austin offices for 1-800-Solar-USA for a response but the numbers are no longer working and both offices appear to be closed.

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