Costly to Charge Car

WSVN — It’s becoming a great, cheaper way to travel in your car. Electric cars that can get you to work and back for pennies, much cheaper than gas. Unless your condo decides to force you to use their charging station that costs twice what a gallon of gas costs. Is that legal? It’s why one South Florida man called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Alan Horowitz owns a moving company, so he knows the reputation movers have.

Alan Horowitz: “What a lot of these movers try to do is take advantage of your being confused.”

But now Alan has come up with an idea to clean up the moving industry.

Alan’s website, called Computeamove, allows the customer to detail the inventory they have to move as they pack the boxes, giving them the exact price their mover will charge.

Alan Horowitz: “Computeamove is a computer program that will take away the confusion between the customer and the moving company.”

To celebrate his new company, Alan rewarded himself with this new car.

Alan Horowitz: “The ELR Caddy. Fell in love with it, it’s a great car.”

The best thing to Alan, it’s an electric hybrid.

Alan Horowitz: “It’s common sense. It’s gotta be cheaper than gas, so I got ahead and buy my car.”

Then he drove up to his condo to charge his car and was shocked at what it cost.

Alan Horowitz: “$7 and 22 cents to go 30 miles. Does that make any sense? That’s double the gallon of gas.”

His condo charges 49 cents per kilowatt hour or a little over $7 to charge it enough to go 30 miles. A gallon of gas to go that far? About $3.

Alan Horowitz: “I go, I speak to my association, I said there’s something wrong here. Is there something we can do about it?”

To pay for the charging station, the owner has to charge more than the cost of the electricity, but Alan says the power to charge the car only costs the association about $1.20. Meaning he is being charged six times what it cost for the electricity.

Alan Horowitz: “I go in there every day or every other day and try to talk to her. She looks at me like I got three heads.”

We drove around a little. At this condo going up, the charging station is free. At this condo, it’s the same as Alan’s. They charge 49 cents a kilowatt or about $7 to charge a car. But at this rental complex that runs on solar power, they are installing charging stations for every person to charge their car for free.

At some stores like Whole Foods, it’s free to charge your car. Same in Aventura Mall.

Alan has a mobile hookup that came with his car that would plug in at this condo. He asked the association to pay to use their outlet.

Alan Horowitz: “No, they told me that’s why we have a charging station. So they are basically forcing me to pay their $7.22.”

Electric cars are part of the future but what control do you have over a condo that wants to charge a price you find outrageous?

Howard Finkelstein: “There is no law in Florida regarding charging stations. So whoever installs the device can charge whatever price they want. Doesn’t matter if it’s a condo association or a private business. If your association has one and is charging too much, get on the board and lower the price or get them to let you install your own charging station.”

I spoke to the condo property management group, I was told they didn’t set the price for charging, that it was a private company that bought it, installed it and controls the rate.

The manager said they are working to trying to get something done to get a better price for the residents.

The company that owns the charging station didn’t respond to my e-mails. I also spoke to Charge Point who sells or leases the devices. They told me that about 60 percent of the businesses that buy a charging station give the service to their customers, employees or residents. I was also told the $7 plus price Alan’s condo is charging is a high price for any resident as it is definitely higher than the gas equivalent.

Alan Horowitz: “If you are not rich enough to own your own home, you have no way of charging it.”

Alan is probably going to have to move out of the building to a place he can use his own charging station and hopes that what’s happening to him at his condo is stopped.

Alan Horowitz: “It needs to be regulated by the state. It’s wrong.”

Patrick Fraser: “If you live in a condo or rental apartment and want to get a car that can run on electricity, find out the rules your association has for charging before you buy. Also remember, a lot of businesses are now installing free charging stations so maybe you can power up, while you work.”

Lost the power to solve a problem? Wanna juice things up and feel the electricity again? Contact us. Hopefully you will get a charge out of our work.

With this Help me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

After the story aired, a spokesperson from CarCharging.com contacted us to respond to our e-mails about the price they charged to charge cars. They stated, “In order to provide the infrastructure required to support EV charging, there are various expenses involved, including installation, electricity and reimbursement, network fees, transaction fees, host payments, and maintenance. Therefore, charging fees are necessary to cover these costs as well as a profit to support the company.”

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
E-mail: helpmehoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN