AG’s suit seeks $20,000 performance bond; Judge signs temporary restraining order barring contractor from taking any new jobs
BUFFALO, N.Y. (January 3, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced that his office has sued a Buffalo-area heating and cooling contractor who defrauded consumers out of thousands of dollars. The Attorney General is seeking restitution for consumers and penalties and costs against the contractor.
“We’re in the middle of a cold snap and New Yorkers across the state are struggling to keep warm,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “At times like this, reputable contractors are sought for a variety of reasons, including providing adequate heating solutions to homeowners. When fraudulent contractors attempt to take advantage of real people just trying to keep warm, my office will intervene.”
As alleged in the suit, Daniel Myers, 45, of Hunt St. in Buffalo required customers to make advance payments to install furnaces. However, he repeatedly failed to provide the work for which he had been paid, and he failed to deposit the advance payments into a trust account, as required by New York State law. The Attorney General’s suit seeks to bar Myers from the home improvement business until he posts a $20,000 performance bond.
Frequently, Myers would also call consumers with whom he had a prior relationship and ask if they would like their furnaces cleaned. He would then tell the consumers that they needed new furnaces which he could install at a very reasonable price – if they paid in advance. He would then fail to do the work. Myers usually promised consumers that they would also qualify for rebates, which were later not honored.
In one case, Myers stopped by to pay condolences to a family friend whose husband had recently died. Myers offered to check her furnace, recommended that she install a new one for which he required advance payment. Myers took the payment and never installed the furnace.
The case is scheduled to be heard January 25 before Justice Joseph G. Makowski, who signed a temporary restraining order prohibiting Myers from taking any new jobs or disposing of any money he received from consumers.
Past customers of Myers who believe they may have been victims of similar actions should contact the Attorney General’s Buffalo Regional Office at 716-853-8400.
When planning to use a home contractor, consumers should consider the following tips:
- 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 on the Attorney General’s Website, www.oag.state.ny.us/consumer/tips/home_improvements.html. If you have unresolved disputes with a home improvement contractor and are seeking assistance, you may call the Attorney General’s Consumer Help Line at 800-771-7755.
The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Jim Morrissey of the Buffalo Regional Office with assistance from Senior Consumer Fraud Representative Karen Davis.