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In defense of the majority of contractors (being one myself) most of us don't run we do the job!! As bid and in a timely fashion. I took 40-60% down (depending on material costs) on start date to buy materials for years.
It would have been and still is unthinkable for me to treat customers like that. My lively hood depends on satisfied customers telling everyone they know about the fine job I did for them.
But because of this, I now have the customer meet me at the lumber yard/super store and pay for my needed materials with delivery to the job site and a token payment for misc supplies not listed in the material list( such as shims,caulks,hardware, and other minor items). so there is no risk involved to the customer. with the balance due when job is done.
The Advocate should expose this "contractor" so no one else becomes a victim
Never pay up front. That is like giving your money to someone you don't know to buy something for you and they are supposed to meet you somewhere. Don't expect them to show up with your money or your purchase. Take the money and run! Pay after the job is done and done right to your spec's. If the contractor wants money up front, find another contractor. Get EVERYTHING in writing, even the hello! Now this contractor is able to do the same thing to others. Needs to be fined for this act.
So, since the crook gave the money back under the threat of being exposed, he's free to prey on the rest of us who might not have power of a newspaper on our side - that's what I got from the story. I think the paper should have still exposed him - I don't think he made things right, he just avoided being exposed so he can stick it more people.
It would be helpful if Mr. Welton would name the contractor and write some kind of review - maybe a Yahoo review or something.