AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) - The Attorney General announced his office has reached a settlement with a local fence installation company accused of milking New Yorkers out of over $50,000.
An investigation by Schneiderman's office discovered Classic Fence and Lumber, Inc. owner, Fred DeNormand reportedly accepted advance payments from customers, but did not "deliver the products and services for which they paid."
The settlement announced today requires the company shut down and pay over $50,000 in restitution to customers and pay $5,000 in penalties. The settlement also bans DeNormand "from engaging in any home improvement business in the future."
Doug Morash of Grand Island was one of the 22 victims of false services after he approached Classic Fence to replace an existing fence he has on his property.
Morash, who put down a $5,000 deposit to Classic Fence, was told that it would take eight weeks for the new parts for the fence to come in. After the two months passed, he realized something was wrong.
"We gave them a call and that's when we realized that our deposit was in trouble" Morash said.
Morash was told by the salesman who initially did his contract that Classic Fence was out of business, and he (the salesman) had been fired. Any attempt Morash made to receive his deposit back was met with locked doors and phone calls unreturned. He then decided to contact AG Schneiderman's office.
"It's nice that the states government is working hard for it's citizens and that there is some recourse."
Morash said he is unsure how much of his initial deposit he will get back, but promises to do a deeper look into the contracting company before giving that much money.
7 Eyewitness News went to the Classic Fence office on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst where a running car was in the parking lot, however no one answered the door.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) does have suggestions on how to avoid fraudulent contractors which can be found here are their top five:
1. Research their track record: You can search for a contractor’s Business Profile at bbb.org to see if they are an Accredited Business, get free information on their history of complaints, and read verified Customer Reviews.
2. Ask for multiple quotes: You should always shop around and get at least three quotes from different businesses. Make sure all bids consider the same set of criteria.
3. Get it in writing: Always get estimates in writing and never let any work begin without a written and signed contract. Do not be pressured into signing an agreement before you are ready and make sure you read and understand everything before signing. The contract should include contact information, start and complete dates, a detailed description of the exact work to be done, any material costs, payment arrangements, and warranty information.
4. Verify license and insurance: Always be sure that the company you decide to work with has the necessary licenses and insurance to work in your region. In the United States, you can get to your state’s licensing agency to learn more here.
5. Confirm building permits: Your contractor must have the correct permits before starting your project. They will usually obtain the permits, but you will probably pay for them. That should be detailed in your contract.
Customers who believe they paid Classic Fence for products and services they did not receive should call the Attorney General's Consumer Help Line in the Buffalo Regional Office at (716) 853-8404.
All complaints must be received by the A.G.'s office by February 26th, 2018.