(WSVN) - A salesman promised her a hot water heater for free, just after they installed an air conditioner. Again, they said for free. You might think you know where this is going, but trust me, it’s never happened before, in tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

It started like many other Help Me Howards.

Patrick Fraser: “You’ve lived in this house a while.”

Oresta Thomas: “About 50 years.”

But our story with Oresta Thomas would end unlike any other.

Oresta Thomas: “I let ’em install the hot water heater.”

I met with Oresta back in March. I had just had surgery for skin cancer. She just had a hot water heater installed. For free, she thought.

Oresta Thomas: “I asked him, I said, ‘Will I have to pay for this?’ He said, ‘No, ma’am.'”

Oresta trusted Magic Climate Control because two years earlier they had installed an air conditioner that Oresta was told was free.

Oresta Thomas: “He told me I wouldn’t have to pay for it, and I didn’t, and then they sent me a check for $1,000.”

The company gave her $1,000, and she didn’t get a bill for the air conditioner.

But after the hot water heater was put in, she was left boiling over.

Oresta Thomas: “I got it in the mail, a bill from Aqua Finance, for a loan for $11,000-plus, for a hot water heater.”

That hot water heater with paperwork that showed no price, that should have cost about $1,000 to $2,000, was now going to cost her $11,000.

Oresta Thomas: “I was fit to be tied.”

Oresta tried calling Magic Climate Control. She says they wouldn’t talk to her.

Oresta Thomas: “They got me going through stress, just terrible.”

Patrick Fraser: “Do you think you got ripped off?”

Oresta Thomas: “I know I did.”

Patrick Fraser: “Or you misunderstood?”

Oresta Thomas: “I got ripped off. I want this case taken care of. I want it dismissed.”

Well, Howard, how can Oresta prove her hot water heater was free? Or is she out of luck?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Legally, this raises red flags and is extremely suspicious. Oresta’s water heater cost about a tenth or what they charged her. This could be fraud, or if the company has paperwork that Oresta signed listing the price, she could be out of luck and owes the money, even though the price is outrageous.”

I could never talk to Eon Singh, the man who ran Magic Climate Control. One office was closed. At the other, they wouldn’t open the door.

He left a voicemail saying he had spoken to Oresta, but I am not sure of that, because a week after we met with her, she was rushed to the hospital.

Two days later, her house caught fire.

A few days after that, Oresta Thomas passed away.

She was gone, but that didn’t make the promise I made to her go away.

Yolanda Curinton, Oresta’s niece: “He said that ‘I promised your aunt that I would take care of this,’ and he says, ‘I am going to do what I promised to do,’ and you’ll never know what that meant to me and my family.”

With Magic Climate Control dodging me, I turned to Aqua Finance, the company that bought the contract from Magic.

When I explained to them what happened to Oresta. Bill Acheson told me he would take care of everything.

Bill Acheson, Aqua Finance: “We did close the lady’s account. We released any lien and removed it from our credit report, so she or the estate doesn’t owe us any money. We’ve cleaned up any record of the loan, and we also terminated the agreement with our dealer.”

We couldn’t tell Oresta the $11,000 loan was wiped out, but her niece Yolanda thinks she knows what she would say to me.

Yolanda Curinton: “She would say, ‘Oh, he knows his [expletive]. That’s just the way she was. She was straightforward to the point, and she would have just been elated and overjoyed that this is now behind her.”

Bless you, Oresta. When we did our research, that air conditioner was not free, either. Oresta didn’t know it, but she was paying through her property taxes. Bottom line: nothing is free.

Contracted a problem that has you heated? Ready to free yourself from it? Contact us. We aren’t perfect, but we are persistent.

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

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
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