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Thursday, January 04, 2018

State settles with Buffalo fence company for failure to provide services

All WNY News     Thursday, January 04, 2018    

PRESS RELEASE



BUFFALO—Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that his office has reached a settlement with Classic Fence and Lumber, Inc. (Classic Fence) and its owner Fred DeNormand, who bilked New Yorkers out of over $50,000. An investigation conducted by the Attorney General's office uncovered that DeNormand repeatedly accepted advance payments from consumers, but failed to deliver the products and services for which they paid. The agreement announced today requires the company to cease operating and pay over $50,000 in restitution to consumers, in addition to paying $5,000 in penalties and costs. The settlement also prohibits DeNormand from engaging in any home improvement business in the future.

"Consumers who pay for a good or service should receive it," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "This settlement will ensure that New Yorkers get their hard earned money back, while barring this scammer from the home improvement business. I urge New Yorkers who believe they may have been impacted to contact my office right away – and I encourage all New Yorkers to use my tips to protect themselves when hiring a home improvement contractor."

In September of 2017, the Attorney General's office began receiving complaints from consumers who believed Classic Fence had defrauded them. The Attorney General's investigation identified 22 consumers who paid Classic Fence deposits ranging from $425 to $8,359, but for whom Classic Fence had done no work. In one additional case, Classic Fence only completed part of the job. The investigation also revealed that Classic Fence was not using home improvement contracts that complied with New York General Business Law. As a result, the Attorney General's office filed a lawsuit against Classic Fence and DeNormand. Today's settlement resolves the lawsuit, requiring DeNormand to sell a property he owns and hold all proceeds of the sale in escrow until he has paid complete restitution to consumers, as well as penalties and costs to the State of New York.

Consumers who have not already filed a complaint with the Attorney General's office and believe they paid Classic Fence for products and services that they did not receive should call the Attorney General's Consumer Help Line in the Buffalo Regional Office at (716) -853-8404 or file an online complaint. Complaints must be received by the Attorney General's office by February 26, 2018.

The Attorney General encourages homeowners to consider the following tips when planning to use a home improvement contractor:
  • Never agree to have work done on the spot, especially when potential contractors are marketing door-to-door.
  • Determine exactly what you want done, then look for a qualified contractor.
  • Shop around; get at least three estimates from reputable contractors that include specific information about the materials and services to be provided.
  • Ask for references: check with the Better Business Bureau, banks, suppliers, and neighbors.
  • Always contact any references provided to you.
  • Insist on a written contract that includes the price and description of the work needed.
  • Do not pay unreasonable advance sums; negotiate a payment schedule tied to the completion of specific stages of the job.
  • Never pay the full price up front.
  • Remember that you have three days to cancel after signing a home improvement contract, but all cancellations must be in writing. 
Additional information on how to avoid fraudulent home improvement contractors can be found online.

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