On Monday night, a St. Louis TV station was planning to air a “5 On Your Side” investigation into a local contractor. Instead, they announced on the air that the subject of their investigation had been found dead in his home just a few hours before the scheduled broadcast. [More]
Get it in writing. Those are four words you need to repeat to yourself over and over whenever you have someone doing work on your house. Just ask the California woman who learned that her house-painters had torn down her patio cover, not because they were clumsy or reckless, but because that’s what they thought she’d asked for. [More]
Navid’s idea wasn’t bad: he wanted to install wood floors in his condo, and chose to hire installers from the store where he bought the flooring and supplies, Home Depot. This should be a simple transaction: he gives them money, they come over and put floors in his condo. It’s just that something that employees assured Navid wouldn’t be a problem suddenly became a problem. There’s a large dip and some cracks in his subfloor, and Home Depot’s original rough estimate for how much it would fix to cost the problem was much lower than it should have been. Navid agreed to pay that expense, and the contractors walked off the job anyway, saying that they wouldn’t be able to warranty the work. Now Navid is stuck with a lot of supplies and a ripped-up floor. [More]
Kristina got estimates from a half-dozen different contractors to build her deck. All had excellent reputations and references. The company she ultimately chose told her that they would have the deck completed by the first week of May. Now it’s the second week in June, and there are a few holes in the ground, but no lumber, no workers, and no deck. She wonders: what should she do now? [More]
Austin thought he was being sensible and avoiding scammy contractors when storms hit his area and his roof needed replacing. He turned down one contractor who just didn’t look professional, but the contractor he ultimately chose screwed him over while looking nice and professional. He paid for a roof replacement back in September, but the company stil hasn’t showed up at his house. He’s run through all of his legal options and filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and now doesn’t know where else to turn. [More]
The workers who came to Matt’s house and installed new gutters did a great job, but they damaged the siding. He doesn’t want to pay their bill until the (very minor) damage to his house has been fixed. But he also doesn’t want the company to sic a collection agency on him. What would the consumerists do? [More]
Bidding wars for defense contracts make particularly fertile ground for corruption, and a federal employee may have gotten caught with his hand stuck in the cookie jar. Federal authorities have accused an Afghanistan-based U.S. Department of Defense employee of taking a bribe from a company there in exchange for helping to secure a government contract. The suspect was caught with a backpack stuffed with $95,000 in alleged bribe money. [More]
An Iowa homeowner was surprised when he looked at his house and half the siding on it was gone, leaving an exposed underbelly of bare white plastic. No other nearby houses were affected. Had a highly localized tornado swept through and targeted just the side of his house? Nope. A local contractor got the address wrong and taken the siding off the wrong abode. The timing was pretty poor, too, as the homeowner had just put it up for sale. And because of insurance bureaucracy, it may be a while before the siding goes back up. [More]
The Aqua Pool & Spa company in California had been building pools for over 20 years and had built up a good reputation, but after a bank went under and called in a $3 million loan, the company abruptly laid off everyone last week and shut its doors. Now everyone who was in the process of getting a pool built is stuck with torn up yards and half-finished pools. What’s worse, subcontractors are now dunning those customers for payment for services or supplies, even when the homeowners already paid (through Aqua Pool & Spa) months earlier. [More]
Never, never open your door to a contractor who randomly appears offering to fix some unseen problem. You would think it’s common sense, but a California senior ended up paying a shady contractor $20,000 to perform $300 worth of work, and it took a sting operation to stop a Long Island contractor who was going door-to-door offering to plug nonexistent carbon monoxide leaks. So how can you protect yourself? Here are a few warning signs to beware….
Steve in northern New York is having a problem with Time Warner. He would like it if they could install service at his mother’s newly constructed house. Time Warner not only doesn’t want to take her money, they can’t give her the best deal available because her house is too new.
If you live near Burke, Virginia, you might want to pay close attention when the contractor hired by Comcast comes to install your service. Rick runs a computer repair company and has twice run into the same problem with Comcast customers, where they can no longer access the Internet after an upgrade and are offered an off-the-books repair service.
Here’s an interesting little lawsuit from West Virginia. A customer is suing Lowe’s, claiming that installers contracted by the hardware giant drilled into his water lines. Not once. Not twice. Three times.
Here are three things you didn’t want to know: 1) The IRS doesn’t always conduct background checks on the employees contracted to handle your sensitive tax documents; 2) Those contracted employees regularly toss your sensitive tax documents into dumpsters without first shedding them; 3) The IRS doesn’t really know who’s in charge of conducting background checks on contracted employees, or who’s responsible for keeping your sensitive tax documents shredded and out of dumpsters. At least that’s what the Treasury Inspector General‘s office uncovered when it audited everyone’s favorite auditors.
Contractor scams are some of the most heartbreaking because of the potential for the scammer to obtain large amounts of money from the victim. About two weeks ago, the NY Attorney General’s office announced the arrest of a Western New York home improvement contractor for “repeatedly pressuring an 88-year-old widow into paying more than $80,000 for home improvements that were never done”, or were so poorly done as to be worthless.
Reader F.’s air conditioner was broken, so he called the company that installed it when the house was built. They came out, charged him $100, and told him that he could repair the unit for $3,000 or replace it for $5,000. It’s a good thing he got a second opinion, because the second repair guy fixed the problem for $250.
Contractor crime isn’t just for Comcast: Two men in Verizon Wireless longsleeves robbed a 64-year-old lady’s home at gunpoint, binding her and her live-in-aid’s hands and taking cash, jewelry, and electronics. [FairfaxCounty.gov]
William writes to tell us about an asinine DirecTV contractor who demanded a tip before starting work. The contractor was dispatched by Halstead Communications, DirecTV’s unfortunate installer of choice in New York. After being denied an entrance tip, the contractor noticed an easily movable table blocking his way and declared to his partner, “I can’t work like this, let’s get the fuck out of here.”