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Beware of in-home sales pitches promising low monthly payments but lock consumers in for decades

Know your rights when it comes to canceling the contract
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Posted at 7:00 PM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-30 19:00:30-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Whether it’s due to rising energy prices, concerns for the environment, or both. Florida is seeing a rise in the number of homeowners installing solar panel systems. ABC Action News found state law on home solicitations calls for a three-day right-to-cancel but consumers need to be able to prove they canceled the agreement.

Retired Hillsborough County Detention Deputy Laura Thorsell says she’s been curious about solar power for a while. So when a solar contractor cold-called her in May she agreed to let them come out and give her a quote.

Now, weeks later Laura, a Plant City resident, says she regrets answering the phone that day.

Laura says the company representative told her there would be no out-of-pocket costs and the electricity savings generated by solar would help cover the $122 a month payment.

“We sat down with the salesman, and he explained everything, calculated everything out, and pre-approved me for the loan,” she said.

ABC Action News looked at the contract. The system cost $38,000 and came with a 25-year payment plan. Laura signed the contract but a day later she came down with a case of buyer’s remorse.

Florida’s home solicitation law gives homeowners the right to cancel their contract within three business days. Laura says she attempted to exercise that right.

“I emailed every single email that was sent to me by the company,” she said. Panic set in a week later after she said the company refused to let her out of the contract.

Pinellas Consumer Protection Investigator Anna Marie Fiallos advises always canceling by certified mail so there’s a record of the confirmation. And, she added “it needs to be postmarked by the third business day from when the contract was signed.”

While state law does not require a cancellation via certified mail Laura’s contract states the notice to cancel must be signed, dated, and sent by certified mail.

ABC Action News contacted the solar company about Laura’s attempts to cancel the job. A week later they sent a confirmation email that the job was canceled.

In general, when dealing with home sales calls: