Pink Energy customers, attorneys turn focus to lending companies
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GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WBTV) - Tina Willis says she’s still waiting for the promises made by her Pink Energy salesman came to fruition.
“My electric bill never went away because it never was even working,” Willis said.
Willis financed $70,000 worth of solar panels and other system add-ons from Pink Energy based on promises that they would cut her energy costs at her home in Goose Creek, SC.
“Now I’ve got a 25-year loan, nobody to service my panels, nobody to take care of the warranty issues,” Willis said.
In its bankruptcy filing, Pink Energy listed more than 30,000 customers and creditors, but Willis’ attorney Andrew Connor says few are likely to see any settlement money.
“It appears that there are no assets to the company and so the 3,000 pages worth of creditors that have been listed in that filing, at least as to Pink Energy, are out of luck,” Connor said.
Connor and Willis are focusing their efforts on the loan company, Goodleap. It isn’t the only lender that partnered with Pink Energy but it’s one of the most common.
Pink Energy customers who sent emails to Goodleap asking for help with their loans, started getting responses from the lender saying reimbursements were unlikely since Pink filed for bankruptcy.
Connor and other attorneys say lenders like Goodleap are responsible under the Federal Trade Commission Holder Rule, which Connor says could help clients like Willis recover money they’ve already paid on their loans.
“The Holder Rule allows her to sue Goodleap up to that $20,000 amount,” Connor said.
But Goodleap’s loan agreement forces consumers into private arbitration. Unlike filing a lawsuit, arbitration mostly happens in secret, making it difficult to track how many customers are filing cases, whether they’re successful, and what’s discovered in the hearings.
WBTV previously uncovered a loan application filled out with the help of Pink salesmen that mis-stated a customer’s annual income. The inflated income makes it easier to get approved for a loan an applicant might not qualify for.
I’ve got another client who makes $800 a month on disability,” Connor said.
“They had inflated his monthly income to $15,000.”
Connor says the lenders are also charging “Dealer Fees” that aren’t aways disclosed to the consumer.
Documents obtained by WBTV show Goodleap’s formula, charging Dealer Fees upwards of 20% while keeping the interest rate low and attractive to customers. Other lenders have similar formulas.
“So, what should have been a $40,000 loan maybe is now a $60,000 loan,” Connor said.
WBTV emailed Goodleap to ask about the Holder Rule, arbitration, and Dealer Fees. The company did not provide a response.
“I just can’t see paying somebody for something that doesn’t work,” Willis said.
Consumers seeking an attorney to represent them can find a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.
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