TBO.com: Tampa Bay Online, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times - breaking news and weather.
Sunday, Sep 21, 2014
Business News

Home improvement dealer draws more complaints

News Channel 8
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 02:18 PM
LARGO -

State and local agencies are adding more cases to their investigations into a Pinellas County businessman who offers "free energy audits" as a means of selling costly home improvements.

Here's a roundup of investigations involving David Beers, owner of Guardian Solar and Energy LLC in Largo and subject of an 8 On Your Side report:

• The Pinellas County Licensing Board has issued four citations against Beers, saying he illegally advertised products and services on the Internet using the state licenses of other companies and contracted for air conditioning work with one customer without a required contractor's license.

• The Pinellas County Justice and Consumer Services office is reviewing a complaint from the same customer, Balinda Gonser, over the sales tactics of Beers' businesses and the quality of work on her home.

• The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has issued a cease and desist order to prevent Beers from advertising on the Internet using the state contractor license numbers of other companies.

• The Florida Attorney General's Office is investigating whether Beers defrauded consumers by promoting energy audits, rebates, and savings in connection with the offer and sale of energy saving products, which is prohibited by state law.

Beers, who was cited 15 years ago for doing home construction work without a license, told a reporter he does not act as a contractor in his current business deals but simply provides sales and marketing services for other companies.

But three of his customers, including Gonser, say Beers' company misled them by offering "free energy audits" then contracting for home repairs that fell short of what they were promised.

Customer Michael Sparacino said he was eager to cut the size of his power bill in the summer heat last August when a door-to-door canvasser working for Beers showed up at his home in Spring Hill.

Sparacino said he agreed to spend about $10,000 on energy-saving home improvements based on the salesman's advice. The deal fell through when the financing company working with Beers wouldn't approve a loan.

Sparacino said he then agreed to let Beers' company, Guardian Solar and Energy LLC, keep his $2,000 deposit in exchange for improvements to his air conditioning ducts.

"They sent one person out and he got up in the attic for about two or three hours and did some strapping of the duct work," Sparacino said.

It didn't prove to be much of a bargain.

"It came out to like close to $500 an hour for the work they did," Sparacino said. "They explained to me they weren't finished, they would be back and they never came back."

Sparacino got a refund, but not from Beers company. It came from a company owned by contractor Danny Upchurch Jr., who said he once had a loose marketing arrangement with Beers but denied any involvement on the Sparacino job.

Elena Freeman said she's never met Beers but responded to his company's "free energy audit" sales pitch.

Freeman said she agreed to pay $2,300 for home improvements on her house in Safety Harbor after one of Beers' salesmen convinced her the work would pay for itself in lower electric bills.

That was in March. So far, she hasn't seen any positive results.

The reason: Much of the work was never done, according to Climate Design Inc., a Clearwater air conditioning company that reviewed the work at the request of 8 On Your Side.

How much value did Freemen get?

"Zero," said Tom Robinson, Climate Control's Service Manager.

Yet another company was involved in the work Beers arranged on the Freeman house, Preferred Mechanical.

Owner Carl Taylor said in an email that his company did some but not all the work there.

"We are looking into the contract work for Mrs. Freeman and I will deal with Mrs. Freeman directly," Taylor wrote, responding to questions a reporter sent by certified mail.

Later, Freeman told 8 On Your Side that Taylor assured her she wouldn't have to pay the $2,300.

Beers isn't saying anything publicly.

"If you want to talk off the record I can tell you a lot," Beers told a reporter.

"But, I'm not telling you anything on the record."

mdouglas@wfla.com

(727) 815-1054

Subscribe to The Tampa Tribune

Comments