One of my pet peeves is when businesses take advantage of consumers. It’s one of the main reasons I began my website at DeKalbCountyExaminer.com in May of ’09. Out here in DeKalb, I’ve found that a majority of the businesses that I and my readers deal with on a regular basis are on the up and up. Then occasionally comes something like the subject of this article.
I’ve known Renee for years. We went to school together, we rode the same bus for awhile, we even worked together back in our teenage years in the glorious fast food industry. So when she called out for advice and help and posted photos of work that a contractor had done, I wanted to help.
Renee is a single mom of 4 children. She worked 3 jobs to put herself through school and to care for her kids. Today, she works hard to provide a good life for herself and her family. She lives life on a budget and has found herself in a bind now.
The contract, work, and professionalism
Renee hired Terry’s Complete Renovations of Scottsboro, Alabama around the last week of April/first week of May to fix her roof, to build a deck, and to build a storage shed as per the contract. Renee states that she was going to hire a different contractor for the roof but Terry Saunders, the owner of the business in question, convinced her that he could do the job faster and cheaper than waiting for the other contractor. He assured her the work would be good quality.
All in all, Mr. Saunders told her the work would be done within a week. Pretty quickly, though, it was apparent to Renee that the work on the roof was sub par. It leaked within several areas of the house. Mr. Saunders did have the work fixed correctly and it passed inspection. However, the deck and building didn’t have to go through an official inspection.
When I asked Renee about the people who came to the house to do the work, she told me that Mr. Saunders informed her that he was training the guys who were working on her projects. However, she didn’t actually see Mr. Saunders teaching them. She said that he’d come by, drop off equipment and then leave again. Whether he actually worked on any of the projects himself is unknown.
Renee stated that she essentially had to baby-sit the workers, instructing them herself where to correct problems when she observed something wrong. But she couldn’t be out there the entire time. Later, the work was supposedly completed and Renee took note of just how much more was wrong with it than she originally thought. So she began asking Mr. Saunders for help in correcting the problems. She soon realized, though, that every time she’d ask them to come correct a problem, it would create a new set of problems. This went on until the first week of July when she’d finally had enough and told them not to come back to her house. She proceeded through the correct channels and filed a Better Business Bureau complaint.
Click here to see the BBB ranking of Terry’s Complete Renovations. As of today, the ranking is an “F”, the lowest possible rank. Besides Renee’s complaint, there has been another complaint which has gone unresolved. Who filed the complaint is unknown due to privacy laws.
But the physical problems weren’t the only issue. The manner in which she overheard the workers talking about her was bad enough. Lewd comments about her “tomboyish” demeanor (among other comments) was something that she didn’t like but she ignored them in favor of the job getting done. But when she caught one of the workers spraying water sealant on her siding, patio furniture, and rose bushes, he turned to her and said, “Don’t get your panties in a wad,” she was shocked that she would be addressed in such an unprofessional manner.
Quality in Question
I drove out to Renee’s house to inspect the work for myself. I took along my video camera and documented everything. If you haven’t yet seen the video, take a look by clicking here. You can see for yourself all the gaps, the exposed rusty nails, the warped wood, the incorrect measurements, the split wood, and bad cuts. There is more to the video but I had to cut out some parts in favor of avoiding redundancy and staying under YouTube’s file size limit.
It is my opinion, from what I personally observed and from talking to Renee and Mr. Saunders, that the work that Terry’s Complete Renovations performed was of very poor quality. It not only looks bad but I suspect that it also drags the value of the house down.
Renee stated that she also had a contractor out to inspect the work and he stated that it would be cheaper to tear the entire thing down and start from scratch. The steps, the supports, and other items were not even built up to code, according to this other contractor. Renee still plans on getting additional estimates, but according to this other contractor, the cost to destroy and rebuild will cost in upwards of $7,000 or more; money that a mother of 4 on a budget just doesn’t have.
Terry Saunders’s response
I left a message with the business and a few hours later my call was returned by Mr. Saunders himself. I told him I was following up on a complaint on his business from one of my readers. He stated, “Let me guess. Is her name Renee?” I stated that it was. He proceeded to tell me that it was her boyfriend that destroyed the work that his crew had done.
“So it was her boyfriend that ripped out and exposed nails, cut warped wood, left gaps everywhere…” I started to ask.
He stated that her boyfriend had gotten into an altercation with one of his workers and knocked down a hand rail which his crew had to put back up. Renee and her boyfriend, Kevin, deny these allegations. It is my opinion, as well, that there is no way the boyfriend could’ve caused the amount of problems that were evident in the structure. If you look at the video and see for yourself, even if the boyfriend did knock something down, it doesn’t explain the nails, the gaps, the bad cuts, etc.
It was at this point, when I let Mr. Terry Saunders know that I had seen the work for myself and recorded it on video, that he became defensive and stated that he had a video, too. I told him that he had as much right to put up his video as I did. In fact now, I will go one further. If he puts up a video of the same deck at Renee’s built properly, I will gladly share it but I suspect that such a video does not exist. If it does I’m open to watching it and sharing across my networks.
Mr. Saunders also tried to change the subject and questioned why I would contact another business in the course of researching this story. When I tried to focus the topic back on the quality of the work, he again became defensive and said that he was having Renee sued (for what, he never specified) and would give his lawyer my number as well. I encouraged him to do so.
I had wanted to ask him two major questions. First, was if it was his policy to turn trainees lose on a project on a regular basis and second, would he make this right with the consumer. But before I could ask him these things, he informed me that he didn’t want to argue with me so he was going to hang up. I told him that I would be sure to include his response in my report. He asked me what I was going to put as his response. I told him I would include his allegation about the boyfriend, that he was defensive and was going to hang up. “I didn’t say I was hanging up on you,” he told me despite the fact that two seconds before, he’d said just that. Instead of continuing to go in circles, I thanked him for calling me back and was in the middle of wishing him a good rest of the day when he accused me of “going to hang up on him.” In the end, though, as I was again thanking him for his time, he did hang up on me.
What Terry Saunders can do to make this right
After all that she has been through at this point, it is understandable that Renee wants neither Terry Saunders nor his crew back out to her property. What she would like is for Mr. Saunders to pay a contractor of her choosing to go out and repair the work and/or rebuild. She doesn’t want anything unreasonable, she just wants a deck behind her house that is built properly and is enjoyable and safe for herself, her children, and her guests. This is what any homeowner would want.
Mr. Saunders, instead of getting defensive and trying to make excuses, why not do the right thing here and resolve this the way it should be? It is very obvious that the work was done improperly. Maybe you had too much on your plate at the time. Maybe you were overwhelmed with personal problems or other projects. Mistakes happen to everyone. That’s just life. How you resolve those mistakes is up to you.
How you can help
Whether you live in the area or not, you can help by sharing the YouTube video (click here). Hopefully it will get the attention of a lawyer who would like to help Renee or another media outlet that can further spread the word so no one else has to go through this. If you are someone who can help this young mother, you may contact me at email@example.com and I will get in touch with Renee for you.
If there are any further developments in the story, I will update my readers via one or more of my networks. Click here for my Associated Content profile, and look in the left column under “Affiliations” for links to more of my online work and networks.
Sources: direct and phone interviews, copy of contract between Renee and Terry’s Complete Renovations, BBB.org, texts between Renee and Terry Saunders, personal opinion based on own observations