Jefferson City, MO – March 11, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — As part of his ongoing efforts to protect Missourians from home repair scams, Attorney General Koster today filed a lawsuit against a home-repair business for violating both Missouri’s Merchandising Practices and no-call laws.
Koster filed suit against All Seasons Contracting; its owner, Carol Richard; and its manager, Brandi Sampson. Koster alleges that after a series of strong storms hit the St. Louis area in the spring of 2012, the defendants sent salesmen door-to-door offering homeowners free inspections and quotes for repairs, and offering to help homeowners file claims with their insurance companies. The suit alleges the defendants took at least $37,000 as down payments from six homeowners, promising that work would begin within weeks. The total amount, once all consumers are known, could be much more. A year later, the defendants have refused to begin any of the work or provide refunds to their victims.
“Too often we see cases where home-repair businesses require up-front payments, and then fail to do the work,” Koster said. “We will continue to pursue these sham home-repair businesses to seek restitution for the customers they cheated and to protect future consumers from being victimized.”
The lawsuit also takes aim at All Seasons Contracting for allegedly making dozens of unlawful and unsolicited telemarketing calls to Missourians on the no-call list.
Koster is seeking full restitution for all victims and an order from the court preventing the defendants from advertising or engaging in any home-repair services in the state of Missouri. Additionally, Koster is asking the court to impose a fine of up to $5,000 per unlawful telemarketing call made by the defendants.
Koster said consumers who contracted with All Seasons Contracting and have not received services as promised should contact his Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-392-8222 or file a complaint online at ago.mo.gov. Consumers should also file complaints against any other home repair business that has not provided promised services.
As part of National Consumer Protection Week, March 3-9, Attorney General Chris Koster warns consumers to beware of home repair and contractor-related scams, noting:
Disreputable contractors often solicit work door-to-door or through telemarketing;
These sham contractors often are not established in the area, but rather swoop in after a storm or other natural disaster;
These contractors offer to do work such as blacktopping driveways, installing lightning rods, painting, roofing and siding. Their work and materials are inferior.
The cost of the job may rise considerably after the work is performed and the consumer may be intimidated into paying the increase; or
As alleged in the All Seasons lawsuit, the contractor may not do the work at all.
Attorney General Koster provides consumers with the following red flags and tips with regard to contractor fraud:
Contractors who appear uninvited at your doorstep or who call or email you out of the blue.
The contractor says he is doing work in your neighborhood and claims he has “extra material” left over.
The contractor pressures you to make a decision and sign a contract for the work immediately.
The contractor offers a “special deal” available “today only.”
The contractor points out a problem with your home that you never noticed yourself before. Some unscrupulous scam artists have been known to offer “free” inspections and then break something on purpose so they can be paid to “fix” the problem.
The contractor lacks identification, such as a permit from the city or county.
Tips to prevent becoming a victim of contractor scams:
Get multiple estimates on any home-repair job before signing a contract.
Check out the contractor’s references and visit the site in the reference to check out the quality of the work.
Check for complaints with the Attorney General’s Office or the Better Business Bureau.
Never pay in full up-front, especially if cash is the only payment accepted.
Make sure the contractor is insured and bonded.
Document in writing the scope of the work to be done, the complete cost of the work, the time necessary to complete the job, and how payment will be handled.