The BBB fields calls about contractors daily, and unfortunately, some companies disappoint customers or even defraud them by taking their money and not doing the work or failing to complete it.
A common denominator for many of these companies is that they ask for full payment before any work is done. That should be a red flag to any consumer. Although it's common for a contractor to ask for a down payment, honest contractors know that customers want to reserve the majority of the payment until they are satisfied with the work.
The BBB recommends that every consumer check a company's BBB Business Review at our website, stlouis.bbb.org, or by calling 314-645-3300, before hiring a contractor.
Today's BBB release concerns a contractor who took thousands of dollars, yet did little or no work. Customers said they were unable to get in touch with him after he took the money and most have been unable to get refunds. Tips for dealing with contractors are at the end of the release:
St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 18, 2012 – Homeowners in Illinois and Iowa reportedly paid a Southern Illinois contractor thousands of dollars for repairs, but the contractor never did any work on their homes, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns. The customers said they have been unable to get their money back.
The BBB suggests caution when dealing with Shane Grayling of Carlyle, Ill., or his business, All About Construction.
“He didn’t do anything,” said a woman from Ballwin, Mo., whose family hired
Grayling to fix the roof on her mother’s home in Centralia, Ill. The woman said
that when the work was not done, rainwater began leaking on the 88-year-old
disabled woman as she slept in her bed. “Mr. Grayling . . . should be held
accountable for his actions,” the daughter said.
All About Construction has an “F” rating with the BBB, the lowest grade possible.
Among the complainants are three homeowners in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who say they paid a total of more than $21,000 in 2011 for roofing, siding and other repairs that were never done.
“For a business to come in, take people’s money and then skip town is shocking,”
said Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO. “These people entered into real
contracts for real work and ended up with nothing but a lot of excuses,” she
A BBB investigator spoke to Grayling briefly by phone last month and asked about the outstanding complaints. Grayling said he was working and did not have time to talk, but promised to call back as soon as possible. He has not returned the call.
In May, Grayling promised the BBB that he soon would begin repaying the $5,200 to the family of the 88-year-old woman. The woman died earlier this year. Four
months after making the promise, no payments have been made, the daughter said.
One of the Iowa homeowners said he paid Grayling and All About Construction $3,700 in July 2011, as the partial cost of replacing a hail-damaged roof. At that
time, Grayling was using a relative’s address in Winthrop, Iowa. No work has ever been done and the homeowner said he had been unable to get in touch with Grayling for several months. “It was just smoke and mirrors,” the man said. “He shouldn’t be in business.”
A neighbor of the Cedar Rapids man said he also contracted with Grayling in July
2011 to repair his roof and paid him $4,000 in advance. Again, no work was ever done, the man said. “We might as well have gone gambling with the $4,000,” he said.
Both homeowners said Grayling contacted them recently and told them he intends to pay back their money.
A third homeowner in Cedar Rapids said he lost $13,500 to Grayling and All About
Construction. He said recently that he hoped to convince local law enforcement authorities to pursue his case.
The Illinois secretary of state lists two businesses with the name All About Construction, neither in Carlyle. There is no indication in the records that Grayling is connected to either firm.
The BBB offers the following tips on hiring companies to make home repairs:
- Beware of possible scams. Watch out for contractors in unmarked trucks. Don’t succumb to high-pressure techniques, such as notices that the price is good for one day only.
- Try to verify the business’ true identity. Get a business card and a physical location of the company and visit the offices if you have doubts. It is always better to deal with well-established businesses.
- Ask for references. Make sure that the company that wants your business has satisfied other customers.
- Understand that when an insurance company issues a settlement check for damages, that payment is going to you, not to a contractor. Just because you have been dealing with one contractor doesn’t mean you can’t decide to hire a different one if you are uneasy about the first.
- Do not pay the full amount in advance of the work being completed. A good rule of thumb is to pay one-third when the contract is signed, another third when the job is 50 percent complete and the final third when you are satisfied with the completed job.
- Check a company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.
Follow the BBB on Facebook or on Twitter @stlouisbbbeditor.