We've heard horror stories from consumers about contractors taking off with their money, but a North Texas couple says a roofing company preyed on their entire neighborhood.
Residents in an Arlington community said they feel completely duped and they didn't even see it coming. They said SOS Roofing and Construction ran off with more than $40,000, and the customers want justice.
Last year's spring weather was unforgiving to many north Texas homes, but Donald and Darline Ward though they had gotten lucky.
“We walked around our house, we didn't see any shingles missing,” said Darline.
Then "Billy" from SOS Roofing and Construction arrived at their doorstep. The Wards thought that was strange to begin with because they said there's no soliciting in the area.
"He came to the door and he's like, 'You know you have roof damage,'" Darline Ward said. "So I got a hold of my insurance company. The insurance agreed with him and then they sent me out a check for the roofing company. I give them a cashier's check for $10,000. Then all of a sudden, no more calls from Billy. No contact from nobody.”
The couple says they tried calling and texting Billy for months. They even went to the address listed on the company's website to get answers, but no one was there. So the couple came to one conclusion: their roof wasn't getting done and their $10,000 was long gone.
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Unfortunately, the Wards are not alone.
“There's a large group of people who have been scammed, like several houses in the neighborhood,” Darline explained.
Altogether, the residents said they paid more than $40,000 to have their roofs repaired. They signed contracts and were given projected start dates, but they say none of their homes have been touched.
“It’s like you went in my pocketbook and stole money out of my pocketbook,” said Dedre Jones.
Their stories are almost identical. Most of them got a visit from the same salesman, Billy.
“He was smooth. You liked him,” said Dennis Hale. “He was eager to help you until you gave him the money, and then he did a disappearing act.”
They then turned to the owner of SOS Roofing and Construction, Will Jenkins, for answers. They say he's full of excuses and refuses to offer a refund.
We reached out to Jenkins to find out his side to this story. He says in part:
"They have been pretty dead set on ruining my company and reputation for some time now it seems....I do acknowledge and accept responsibility for the amount of time it is taking to do their projects, also that they put a down payment on my services...My company took on a massive workload this past year. We've faced great adversity, and are behind on our schedule. I am sorry to all of my homeowner's that have been bearing with me, and the time delays. But I promise when your home is next on my schedule I will be 100% focused on your project from start to finish."
We asked Jenkins if he would offer refunds to any of the customers due to the extensive delay, but did not receive a response.
“If I saw that guy right now, there's no telling what I would do. I'd go crazy on him,” said Brenda Banks.
“They should go to jail,” said Dennis Hale.
Many of the customers said they went to the Arlington Police Department but were told it's a civil matter and that they'd have to take the owner to court.
The Tarrant County District Attorney’s office told NBC 5 Responds they're aware of the allegations "are looking into them."
Meanwhile, Donald and Darline Ward just want their $10,000 back, but they aren't holding out too much hope.
"I'm hoping that maybe he'll come forth and say, 'Hey, we didn't get your work done. Here's your money back,'" Darline said. "Other than that, I want to see him locked up for the theft that he has committed. That is a crime.”
Here are Samantha Chatman’s solutions to help you avoid this problem:
• If a contractor or salesman comes knocking on your door after a storm, be cautious. Don't be quick to sign up for repairs.
• You should also get your estimated work date written on the contract. Most of the customers we heard from didn't have any start or completion dates in writing.
• Always research the company before agreeing to any work. You can look them up on Google and Facebook. See what other customers have to say online.