Roofing Contractor Complaint - He did no work, and won't return my deposit

Review by dogs rule on 2007-08-31
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.
Comments:22 Replies - Latest reply on 2013-07-25
Posted by Slimjim on 2007-08-31:
You're states Consumer Protection Department. You can go right to the Attorney General's website by doing a quick search. I would first see if you have a division in your county or area. They tend to be more aggressive in pursuing a resolution.
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-08-31:
You should also report them to BBB and BCB.
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-08-31:
Jen, it is clear this person never intended to do the job or just blue it off because of other things he was doing. I would take Slims advice and give this person NO more time to do anything. He is in violation of your contract and is trying to get away with your money because he most likely spent it. I would also contact a lawyer immediately $4,000.00 is more than enough to take it to a regular court you need not worry about small claims court.

Best of luck to you and very good review. When you get tired of trying to chase him down, be sure to post his name and business name as well with address and any other information you have on him.
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-08-31:
Good review and welcome to the site, friend. I voted you Very Helpful.
Posted by MRM on 2007-08-31:
I hope this guy won't get away from this and he is crazy if he thinks he can get away.
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-08-31:
Hope it gets resolved soon,and in your favor.
Posted by dogs rule on 2007-08-31:
My goodness, thank you all - so many responses, so quickly!

Working with the consumer advocate, he has until Sept. 10th to return my deposit. After that, if there's no refund, I'll be naming him and his company.

Thanks for the suggestions, all of you, and for the great welcome. I'll be taking the advice. You know, it's really a comfort, coming here and getting support. It's been quite the difficult few weeks, as I'm sure you can imagine.

I think the worst part is this feeling that I let my daughter down. That I was stupid. We managed to get this coming sememster paid for, and I paid off the new roof, but next semester may be a struggle.

The roofing guy had better not think I'm going to just walk away and let him keep my $4K, though. Sometimes, I think about the reality of what he's done, and it just floors me. I'll be fighting for it.
Posted by moneybags on 2007-08-31:
File charges against him for "theft by fraud" and maybe even "racketeering" dependent on the laws in your state. You need to go to the police and the DA. We had a similar situation here on the Gulf Coast with a contractor. The Criminal Investigators of the IRS now has the case and he is in jail in Mississippi for taking money for home repairs and not doing them. Golod luck
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-08-31:
In California anything over $500 is a felony. If you can get the DA to take the case they may say it's a civil matter unless you prove your case as fraud. bets of luck to you, keep us posted.
Posted by *Brenda* on 2007-09-01:
Why wouldn't you get your money back by going to court? That's nuts! This guy took money for work that was never completed, why would the court rule in his favor?

Ugh, it's sad that you have to be so careful with contractors nowadays! I'm having a deck built in 2 weeks and I'm not paying them a thing until they start, just in case!

I think you should report him to the police because I'd bet he has done this numerous times before. Do you know if he has any type of contractor's license? Maybe you can get that revoked.

Also, please don't feel like you let your daughter down. This isn't your fault at all.
Posted by dogs rule on 2007-09-01:
Aw Brenda, thanks. I've been feeling pretty stupid.

About court: I know I'd win, but then trying to actually collect the money is darn near impossible. The roofer could drag it out for years, if he wants - and in this state, the easiest way to do that is to simply not show up for court dates.

From what I've been able to find, I'm in a state where you don't need a license to do home improvements (non-technical ones, I mean). You're right. It's just a big ugh. God bless the man who stepped in and did the roof for me - he's been so wonderful. :)
Posted by Nohandle on 2007-09-02:
Dog there's not one among us who has not been "had" at some point. Hopefully not to the tune of $4,000 but nonetheless paid for a job not completed, in your case not even started. Things as minor as the kid mowing our lawn who needed some money and would finish the job that afternoon, the tree cutters who needed payment on a Saturday and would come back to grind that last stump and on and on. We've all lived and learned. Please consider the advice of the other members. I certainly hope you get your deposit back.
Posted by dogs rule on 2007-09-11:
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.
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-09-11:
Dog, turn the dogs lose on his a$$!
Posted by Slimjim on 2007-09-11:
Wow, I would think he would do everything to avoid this going to court, not actually bring it there. Now it looks like it's $4000 plus court costs and attorney's fees.
Posted by dogs rule on 2007-09-11:
I think he's trying to make it look like I was just retaliating for being sued, if I file a police report now. I'm going to counterclaim, just to be sure he shows up - I'm not going to have this creep suing me repeatedly to try to keep me from filing criminal charges.

I'm kind of a nice person, but I'm not taking one more thing from this guy. I'll be glad to see him in court, and if he skates, I'll get my judgment anyway.
Posted by jktshff1 on 2007-09-11:
dogs, there are times to be nice, and times not to be nice.
get your lawyer to get on this right away.
thanks for keeping us updated
Posted by dogs rule on 2007-09-12:
You know, I'm starting to wonder what else this guy is capable of. This is absolutely bizarre.
Posted by D on 2007-09-12:
Nice guys finish last.. My guess is He drank or gambled your $4000. Stomp him into the ground!
Posted by *Brenda* on 2007-09-15:
Dogs, what did his civil complaint say?

When is your court date? Too bad this isn't on People's Court. It probably would be fun to watch!!
Posted by The D Man on 2008-08-29:
At any point did you ever think of checking references? Also, no contracting contract can ever be held to a “set in stone” compellation date. Weather, availability of materials, unforeseen issues with the main building structure all play a role in compellation date delays. By hiring a second contractor before both parties involved in the first contract agreed to its termination…you are at fault of violating the contract.
Posted by Carolyn on 2013-07-25:
In November 2012 I put up $23,000 of our insurance money to a roofing company for materials. When they arrived January 2, 2013 The Company did not have enough money in the account to pay the trucker and the representative had to send them back. He will not refund the money or pay for $23,000 worth of materials. Now it is July 24 2013 and now I'm starting to get this story out there and to gather information on what to do. Life is too short for these kinds of people. I here through the grapevine that he’s going around bragging about how much money he’s making. What a jerk.

Your Name:
(displayed with your comment)
Your E-mail:

Your Experience/Advice:
Check spelling

By clicking submit you agree that you have read and accept the Terms of Service & Privacy Policy.

Note: All comments are reviewed by a moderator before being published. Please be sure to read our guidelines before commenting.