Elderly man said credit card opened in his name after buying AC unit
SAN ANTONIO - What began as a routine maintenance call of Michael Mann's air conditioner, turned into a full blown sales pitch.
"He saw I had my oxygen here and he said well, apparently you need oxygen here you got problems breathing," Mann said.
The 69-year-old disabled veteran said it didn't take long for a Cowboys Heating and Air Conditioning employee to reinforce the importance of clean air.
He agreed to purchase a new indoor unit and signed a contract. He said it was going to cost close to 4,000 dollars, but a few days later when the technician showed up to take care of the installation, the job and the price doubled.
Mann remembers agreeing to purchase an 8,000 dollar unit and also that the company agreed to finance it. He does not remember filling out a credit card application or being told it would be financed by a third party.
"They kind of gave my dad half of the info that he really needed and they took advantage of him by applying for a 3rd party credit card without his consent," said his daughter, Shirley Trevino.
Mann said he does not remember signing a credit application.
Cowboys Heating and Air Conditioning owner, Al Martinez revealed they don't keep credit card applications and he also revealed that sometimes the applications are filled out on an electronic device.
News 4 called Synchrony, the third party financing company.
A customer service manager said, "the application will stay in our system just for 60 days so at the moment, we don't have the information anymore."
The manager also admitted to not knowing who filled out the application or whether it was filled out electronically.
"I find that very questionable because most lenders that you do business with, they're going to keep that on file," said Consumer Law Attorney, Tyler Rutherford.
There were more surprises when Mann got his Synchrony credit card in the mail.
In addition to having his name on it, it had Cowboys Heating and Air.
Neither the air conditioning company, nor the credit card company could explain why there were 2 names on the credit card.
"I've never heard of that," Rutherford said, clarifying that it is not standard practice.
He also had some buyer beware advice about 3rd party financing.
"Be very careful as to what you sign," Rutherford said. "Some of these agreements will have balloon payments at the end."
Mann's statement revealed just that; pay it off in 18 months with no interest or pay 26% interest.
The statement also revealed that if he made only minimum payments, it would take almost a decade to pay off and the 8,000 dollar debt would become close to 22,000 dollars.
In retrospect, Mann said he would have asked more questions about financing.
According to the Better Business Bureau report, that gave the company an "A-" rating, there have been other Cowboys customers alleging the documents they signed were not thoroughly explained to them.
"I want them to be a little more transparent into what their dealings are and their business practices," Trevino said.
In a statement Synchrony said, "Thank you for bringing Mr. Mann's concerns to our attention. We take cardholder satisfaction very seriously and do our best to thoroughly investigate complaints before issuing a resolution. We accept applications through multiple formats such as paper and digital with each application going through a rigorous sequential process that requires the applicants approval each step of the way. We are working directly with Mr. Mann to resolve the issue."
Synchrony has admitted to no wrong doing, but according to Mann, the company did make him an offer.
Synchrony has reduced the amount he owes from 8177 dollars to 3900 dollars.