Katy couple's contracting story serves as warning for others

August 13, 2013 8:17:21 AM PDT
Whenever you hire someone to work in your home, it's always best to ask for references, research complaints and check with the Better Business Bureau. One family learned that lesson the hard way after they hired one local company and found some upsetting info that raised concerns.

It's any homeowner's worst nightmare. You hire a contractor but the work doesn't start, and they don't return your full deposit. It happened to one couple in Katy so they called Action 13 for help.

"We wanted something out there to sit under because we sit outside a lot," homeowner Lewis Jones said.

Jones and his wife Jessie hired Preferred Remodelers of Texas to build a porch on the back of their home. That was May of last year.

But days after signing the contract and putting down a $4,000 deposit, Jones called the BBB to research who they hired. After discovering they had an "F" rating and numerous complaints, he called Preferred Remodelers.

"'We don't want you all to do the job. We would like to have our money back,'" Jones said he told the company.

Jones says he spoke to the owner of the company, who came to his home, and promised...

"They would give me my money back. Time rolled on, they didn't," he said.

Two months later, they received a check for $2,000, half of the deposit. But Jones tells us he was afraid to cash it, fearing it would be seen as acceptance of an offer from the contractor.

"I contacted an attorney to try and file suit on him and get my money. That's all I wanted," Jones said.

Jones says Preferred Remodelers never responded to the attorney's letter. Even a complaint filed with the BBB got no results.

"They had a number of complaints that they either did not answer, or not resolve. And that's a huge red flag," said Monica Russo with the Houston BBB.

Russo says Jones should have taken the proper steps before singing the contract.

"If you ever talk to the consumers, you'll find out that they didn't do very much research on the contractor that they worked with beforehand, and that's really important," she said. "One of things you can look for is go online to the BBB's website and see if the company has a history of complaints. And in this case they did."

We reached out to Preferred Remodelers of Texas for comment, but they didn't return our calls. However, hours after we first tried to contact them, the Joneses tell us they received a call the same day from the company saying their refund was ready. It was for the full amount of $4,000, more than 15 months after they first asked for their money back.

Find Jeff on Facebook at ABC13JeffEhling or on Twitter at @jeffehlingabc13

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