Homeowners in 10 states have been piling on complaints against Atlanta-based American Shingle & Siding because the company has failed to install new roofs it promised them, the Better Business Bureau said.
The company convinced homeowners to sign contracts, file insurance claims and submit their insurance claim checks to American Shingle with the understanding that workers would begin replacing their roofs within days, the BBB said. Workers, however, never showed up and the company has since closed its Charlotte, N.C. office. More than 300 formal complaints have been filed with the BBB.
A recorded message at the corporate office says the the company is closed while it relocates so that it can "better serve" its customers with their requests. The message says the office would re-open on August 16, but so far consumers have not been able to reach anyone with the company. The BBB hasn't been able to confirm the company's status either.
A TV news station out of Macon, Ga. recently aired a story in which the company's CEO, Carlton Dunko, said the company has closed because of cash flow problems and is returning uncashed checks totaling $300,000 from 50 to 70 customers.
BBB President Tom Bartholomy told Consumer Ally the problems began in May when sales reps from American Shingle visited neighborhoods in 10 states -- North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Colorado, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas and Ohio. In some cases, company representatives enticed homeowners with free pizza while workers checked for hail damage for free. The sales reps allegedly told homeowners that their roofs needed replacing and that the company could work directly with the insurance company so homeowners would not have to pay.
George Bostick, a resident of Charlotte, told Consumer Ally that a flood of roofers descended on his neighborhood in May after a hail storm. Most of them used pushy sales tactics, he said. But the sales rep from American Shingle was nice and seemed trustworthy. The man arranged for someone to visit the home to give an estimate for the roof replacement. That person then met with Bostick's insurance adjuster.
Bostick said he signed a contract and paid American Shingle with a check from his insurance company for $5,557.04. A date for the roof installation was scheduled, but the company called to reschedule three different times. Bostick said he had a feeling something was wrong. Bostick saw another red flag when someone from American Shingle called to say that he needed to file a supplement claim to his insurance company.
"They used some off-the-wall claim about the pitch of the roof being higher. He wanted more money," Bostick said. "I called the insurance company and asked...of course, they declined."
Bartholomy said companies or individuals who perform these tactics are called "storm chasers." Usually, they move into a community, stay a few months and then move on. But during the past 8 or 9 months, Bartholomy said he's noticed these companies using new tactics. They rent out commercial space and set up sales offices making it look like the company is there for the long haul, he said. Sometimes the companies end up hiring contract workers off Craigslist.
"Be aware of companies that are doing business this way," Bartholomy said. "Tell them you're going to get other estimates and check companies on the BBB web site. That's not what these kinds of companies will want to hear but tough."
The BBB has forwarded complaints about American Shingle to the attorneys general offices in North Carolina and Tennessee and the Georgia Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs. The company has a BBB rating of "F."
The BBB recommends that consumers who signed their insurance checks and turned them over to the company should contact their insurance company immediately. They should also contact their local BBB and state's attorney general.
Bostick, who has been in touch with the BBB, said he's learned his lesson.
"I know better than to give money up front like that," he said. "They were just so convincing. They sounded so truthful. I signed the check over like a dummy and now I'm paying for it."
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