OAKLAND (KTVU) -- 2 Investigates has discovered that at least a dozen customers of a local window company who purchased high-efficiency windows "didn’t get what they paid for," according to a former employee.
KTVU obtained contracts from at least a dozen customers all across the Bay Area who purchased Low E3 glass from Anamar Window and contractor Clear Vision Windows, based in Hayward. But former employee Mark Torres claims that many customers didn’t actually get Low E3 glass for their homes, but instead were given a lower, cheaper grade of glass -- without their knowledge.
"They have no clue"
Low E3 refers to three layers of thin, transparent silver coatings on the glass that help radiate energy and improve the windows’ insulating properties, according to the manufacturer.
2 Investigates put the glass to the test with the help of Keith Perry, a San Jose State Professor and owner of a local, BBB-accredited window company called The Window Specialists. Perry used a professional device that scans the glass to measure how many layers of silver were applied, and determine whether customers were given Low E3 or Low E2.
At 12 of the 13 homes 2 Investigates tested, customers had at least one window where Low E2 glass was unknowingly installed, despite their contracts specifying Low E3.
“It’s a big deal. It’s a big deal,” said Perry. “They have no clue.”
Homeowner Cathy Lacy, who lives in San Ramon, said she specifically asked for Low E3 glass when Torres wrote up her contract order for new kitchen windows.
“I wanted to filter out the heat and also have it be protected in the winter,” said Lacy. “In fact, the person that came out, he was so great and told me, ‘Yeah, you want the E3s, this is definitely what you want,’ and I said, ‘Oh, good, because I gotta make sure I’m getting the right thing.”
But when Perry tested the glass in Lacy’s new kitchen windows, the results showed she was given Low E2 glass.
“I was ripped off,” said Lacy. “I think it’s a violation of the owners’ trust!”
Perry says the problem is deeper than customers not getting what they paid for. He said the wrong glass could cause a bigger issue for homeowners in certain parts of the Bay Area, because he believes Low E3 glass is the only way to achieve the energy savings required by California law in most areas.
“That’s a problem. They would have to replace this because it wouldn’t pass inspection,” said Perry.
Who's to blame?
Torres told 2 Investigates that he brought the problem to the attention of the owner of Clear Vision and partial owner of Anamar Windows, Andrew Bautista, and was told it would be “handled.”
2 Investigates tried to interview Bautista at his Los Angeles offices, but was unsuccessful.
His attorney Armand Tinkerian said neither Clear Vision or Anamar ever saw the customer contracts drawn up by Torres, despite the companies’ names, addresses, website, and business license number appearing at the top of what customers signed.
"Anamar doesn’t know what Mark Torres promises customers," Tinkerian said. When asked whether the company should have been aware of what customers were expecting, because Torres is listed as the “company representative” on the paperwork, Tinkerian said Anamar considers Torres an independent contractor who makes his own contracts.
“My client does not knowingly put wrong windows,” said Tinkerian. “My client did not rip these customers off."
He pointed to Torres, saying it’s possible Torres himself ordered the wrong glass after making promises to customers that they would receive Low E3 windows.
2 Investigates asked for records showing what type of glass Torres ordered from Anamar for customers and what the company actually delivered, but Tinkerian did not provide any documents or respond to multiple requests.
Tinkerian said that Torres was fired from Anamar, and has threatened employees and even a customer.
Tinkerian also claimed Torres once forged a check. 2 Investigates looked into the allegations and found Torres has not been charged or prosecuted for any of those claims.
Torres says he wasn’t fully paid for his work by Anamar and had no way to personally profit off swapping the glass. He also said he called 2 Investigates because he now wants to “make things right” for the customers who didn’t get what they paid for.
“I feel a little responsibility because the customers trust me,” said Torres. “It’s not a good feeling to feel like I had something to do with it.”
Torres also believes there are more customers out there who didn’t get what they paid for and don’t even know it.
“Yeah, I would assume so because if that’s how they [Anamar] were practicing their business towards the end as I was there, I’m sure that they did that before.”
Tinkerian said that if Anamar finds that any customer didn’t get the type of glass they paid for the company will replace every window for free.
But for Lacy, getting the Low E2 glass replaced at her San Ramon home just isn’t enough.
“I do feel they broke the law, and they’ve been real deceitful about it if you think about it," she said. "I think they should replace everyone’s windows. And I think they should be penalized for doing this. It’s just not right.”
PREVIOUS 2 INVESTIGATES COVERAGE: