Sunday, March 04, 2012

Free Steak Dinner May Cost Thousands

"LPA" Company Offering Free Dinners For Sales Pitches

LABELLE, FL. -- Area homeowners have received a letter with what looks like a government check inside, but what's really inside is an invitation to sales pitch for energy saving devices after a free dinner at Don's Steak House Restaurant in LaBelle.

The card invitation says "There's nothing to buy..."  The only name on the card offer is "LPS" which actually is Light Power Solutions LLC a company allegedly controlled by Gary Light of Beldin, Mississippi.

In a promise to readers of the dinner invitation to "lower and possibly eliminate their utility bills" we suspect many will be enticed to call the toll-free number (855) 396-2647 to "confirm reservations" as required by the card.

The clue to what's going on is this offer is the statement "Husband and wife must attend dinner and demonstration together." Make no doubt about it, this is a sales presentation. 

What's The Catch?

They are selling electric "power saver" boxes, "Powerworx" an overpriced 6-pound unit that falsely claims to possibly eliminate electric bills, and grossly overpriced aluminum foil attic barrier installations to reduce AC and heating costs.

We checked out the previous company providing the last "free dinner" offer in LaBelle, and checked with a Better Business Bureau. It's revealing. 

Light Power Solutions (LPS) is operating with the same sales pitches and energy "saving" products as Utility Management Association UMA), a limited liability corporation that's Florida corporate charter was revoked in September 2011, then based in Tupelo, Mississippi where it started in 1978, and later changed to Beldin, MS. 

Utility Management Association came through town March 25, 2007 with the same "energy saving" offers to local homeowners who came to their free dinner back then. Their main target audience seems to be elderly homeowners in small towns.

The company sold a product called "Utility Shield" which customers have described as a thin aluminum-type reflective sheeting that is installed over attic insulation which the company claims will result in energy savings. The company also sold water heater insulation and water saving shower heads.

The mass marketed invitation letter received this week from LPS is postmarked from zip code 38801, which is Tupulo, Mississippi, the same location as Utility Management Association.

Dubious History Of The Company

The BBB opened a file on UMA owned by Gary Light in October of 2003 after numerous consumer complaints. On November 17, 2006 the company's membership in the BBB was revoked by the BBB's Board of Directors due to unauthorized use of the BBB name and/or logo.

Gary Light owns Light Commercial Power LLC, with a home office at 3289 McCullough Ave., Beldin, MS. This outfit operates what appears to be a multi-level sales scheme convincing individuals to become sales "affiliates" for the "Powerworx" electrical power saver box. This is the same gadget the company will offer at it's "free dinner" presentations.

Agents become affiliates after paying a $135 fee, and sell the unit at $1,395 and get a $300 commission. Buyers of the units can also become affiliates and a bonus for each unit he sells then goes to the original seller under a "1-UP" commission setup.

Light Power Solutions LLC, the sponsor of the free dinners, is reportedly hiding it's real owners, which allegedly is Gary Light, but has been reported by a former sales representative as owned in name only by Mark Beckworth, with an office out of Orange Park, Fl. just outside Jacksonville. 

Published reports also indicate another name connected with the company, Greg Rogers. Reports say company management have to go to Gary Light for decision making. Roger's number has been published as 662-213-9127. Another published Mississippi number connected with this sales scheme seems to be 662-844-5532.

The Florida Secretary of State office shows Light Power Solutions LLC at 1677 Wells Road, Suite A,
Orange Park, Fl. 32073 but the only public information available is the registered agent Corporation Service Company in Tallahassee, Fl. It shows no information at all about the officers or owners, showing only the "member/manager" as "None."

UMA reportedly closed down because of all the complaints about the company's product claims, and customer service problems. And some complaints over allegedly using independent un-licensed workers to install the products. Reportedly the finance company they were selling their contracts to balked as well.

Consumers have reported that their utility bills have risen or remained the same since the Utility Shield product was installed. Notwithstanding a "guarantee" offered by the company, customers say they did not receive a copy of the guarantee when purchasing the product. The BBB received complaints about the company's selling practices, advertising, service, repairs, and warranty issues. The company says the number of complaints is small compared to the number of units sold, but has refused to provide the total number of units sold.

The BBB says UMA company representatives had given "unqualified claims that the product will decrease energy consumption in a home by 25% or more." The BBB was unable to substantiate any energy savings. At the time, the company was advertising on its postcards to prospects "We can reduce your monthly energy bills by 20-50% Guaranteed!" The BBB challenged the usage of promises of "guaranteed" energy savings. The company then changed the advertising to "up to 55% guaranteed." Now LPS say "lower and possibly eliminate...utility bills."

Ironically, UMA told the BBB in response to the complaints against them that "it does not guarantee specific results, and that any incidents involving promises of specific savings occurred as a result of errors, or independent action by sales representatives." 

In December 2006 Utility Management Association signed an agreement with the BBB to cease use of the BBB name and other unauthorized statements in sales representations.

Energy experts say that any energy savings are highly dependent on many variables because all homes are unique, for instance most older homes have openings where heat or cold air can pass through regardless of what insulation or reflective materials might be installed in attics. Newer homes are generally constructed as energy efficient as possible already.

What Are The Savings?

The Florida Solar Energy Center has an extensive article on attic radiant heat barrier reflection systems for Florida homes and says any savings on energy bills will depend on the energy efficiency of your home now, bearing in mind that any possible savings on electric cooling costs may amount to about 10% as a roof is not the only location heat enters the home. 

The Center also points out that the cost of the reflective barrier including installation costs should be around $2 per foot to make it economically feasible to install a system like this. The aluminum reflecting type must be installed under the roof rafters and not on top of the attic insulation, as some installers incorrectly do. The shiny side is installed facing down. If you pay too much, your payback time may be very long, stretching over many, many years.

The bottom line: enjoy your "free" dinner but be very cautious about any savings claims made by this company's representatives, especially for a "power saver" box, possible use of un-licensed contractors, and calculate the cost of attic radiant barrier installation over actual electric bill savings of what the Florida Solar Energy Center says may only be 8 to 12%, not enough to make it worth while unless the installation costs are very low.

Information Sources:

Florida Solar Energy Center Report - Attic Radiant Barrier Facts
ComplaintsBoard - Comments about the company and it's products
"Power Saver Device" Scams - Reviews of all known power saving device scams
KVAR "Electric Power Saver" - Unit on eBay for under $100 compared to company's reported $1,395 price for a "Powerworx" unit.
WattzDog Power Saver 1200 - On Amazon with customer reviews - pretty much worthless they say

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous9:43 PM

    Sorry about the spelling errors I'm writing this from my kindle.it was the Florida solar energy center. Also they did represent themselves as representatives for Gary light

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  2. Anonymous8:55 PM

    My wife and I recently attended one of these dinners in Delaware. The presenter said that this company guarantees that the foil will lower electric bill by 20% in our 100 year old house by applying the "barrier" on the floor of our attic. When I told him that I didn't believe him and that I wanted to research the subject before I decided to purchase, he said he would not waste his time to come back when he had so many other customers to "help". This comment prompted my wife to ask him to leave our home.

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  3. My husband and I were scamme dinto getting their product when they were in Pensacola. We had only been in our house for 6 months. I see no reduction in savings based on the prior 6 months to what it has been over the last 3 yars it has been isntalled. They offered a 5 year guarantee if it doesnt save you within those 5 years, you get your money back, but evidently what it looks like they are doing is changing their name within that 5 years, because the name has already changed to Scientific Energy Improvements it looks like, because my father in law just got the same letter we got 3 years ago, except it has a different company name on it, as well as the same salespersons name on it that we bought ours from. I think I am going to show up at the dinner presentaiton to confron tthem and see what they say. Have you heard any more about this as far as people getting their money back?

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  4. We too were scammed. Big time. Is there no recourse? Can the EnerBank US who finances this fraudelnt company be help responsible for charging back these loans?

    ReplyDelete