Roofing Contractor Complaint - He did no work, and won't return my deposit
On June 18th, I contracted with a local roofer to put a new roof on the house I just purchased. It needed to be done relatively quickly, as the current structure was in very poor condition. I made sure he signed on the contract that "all work is to be completed by July 31, 2007".
I gave him the 50% down - $4000 - and waited to hear from him as to the exact installation date. Two or three times, he responded to my calls with the basic "next week", and I was getting concerned.
Around the first week of July, water was leaking into my office. As he had told me to call immediately if there were any issues before he installed my roof, I tried to call him at his business and on his cell phone, and I left a message (on his cell, as his business phone's mailbox was full), but he wasn't answering or responding. So, I called him from my cell instead of my home phone (I knew he wouldn't recognize my cell number), and he picked up immediately. When he found out it was me, he then said he "couldn't hear me", and would call me back right away. He didn't.
Now I was really worried. I drove over to the address I had for him, but he no longer lived there. I found another address for him on the internet, and drove over there. He had "just moved out" a couple of weeks previous. At this point, I had no way of contacting him.
I called a man who had been doing some other work for me, and he fixed the leak and agreed to put the roof on my house, after the contract with the first guy was expired.
I still tried many times to reach the contractor who has my deposit, but he didn't get in touch with me for weeks. I figured I'd better have someone lined up to get the roof done, so I decided to wait until August 1st, and then contract with the second guy.
(I hope this is making sense.)
The first roofer finally got in touch with me towards the end of July, and said he could do the roof "no later" (heard that one before) than August 6th. I had no confidence left in him, so I sent him an email, and left him a phone message, telling him that the roof had to be done as we contracted for - by July 31st - and I was not agreeing to any extensions on the time frame. On August 1st, I signed with the second roofer, and he did a beautiful job for me.
I've repeatedly demanded my $4000 back from the first guy, but he stalled for a while (explaining all of that would just make this long story even longer), and for several days now he's completely disappeared. The last message he left me, on August 20, was so bizarre that I called the police to make them aware of the situation: Apparently, he's angry with ME, and he was offering to come do the roof even though he's fully aware that it's already been done. He's just kind of creepy.
But I need that money desperately. My daughter is a sophomore in college, and I'm a single mother, putting her through on my own. I'm working with a consumer advocate at the moment - which is why I'm not (yet) naming the guy who took my money. I'm giving him a few more days to respond and to do the right thing.
From what I understand, he's well-known by the police here. He's done this before. The small claims statutes here are prohibitive, and to sum it up, I won't get my money back by going after him in court.
Here are my questions: 1. Should I file a police report if he doesn't give my money back in the next few days? They'll investigate, and forward it to the D.A. If he's done this before, then it seems to me this is a form of fraud.
Second, can anyone here think of any other recourse for me?
Thanks so much for reading all this, for those of you who managed to do so - any advice you can offer would be so appreciated.
*** UPDATE ***
He's suing ME. For yet another $2,000.
No, I can't figure it out. Something about reserving the time, and stuff like that.
Interesting, that last week I sent him an email, and told him I had been in contact with the DA's office.
Now, I have to go to court. For WHAT? He still has $4,000 of MY money!
I'm seeing a lawyer next week. After that, I'll ID him and his company.