The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has filed a consumer protection lawsuit against a Jeffersonville man accused of failing to deliver promised home improvement services to customers in Fayette and Clinton counties.
James M. Day, doing business as M&D Construction and as M&D Improvements, allegedly violated Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act and Home Solicitation Sales Act, according to a release from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
In the lawsuit filed in the Fayette County Common Pleas Court, DeWine seeks reimbursement for affected customers and an end to any violations of the law.
According to the lawsuit, Day offered home improvement work, including remodeling and demolition services, but then provided “shoddy work, failed to complete jobs, and failed to provide refunds to customers.” He is also accused of failing to properly notify consumers of their cancellation rights and failing to register his business name with the Ohio Secretary of State.
Since 2015, five individuals have filed complaints against M&D Construction with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or Better Business Bureau. Estimated damages currently total more than $23,000.
In his release, DeWine offered the following recommendations to help consumers avoid home improvement problems:
– Research a company before making any payments. Search for complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau. Check to see if the business is registered with the Ohio Secretary of State. Also conduct an internet search with the name of the business and words like “reviews” or “complaints.” Be skeptical if you find no information. Some operators change business names regularly to make it harder for consumers to detect their record of shoddy work.
– Get multiple estimates. For a large job, consider contacting at least three different businesses before making a final selection. Keep in mind that the company that gives you the lowest estimate may not necessarily deliver the best results.
– Check your cancellation rights. If a seller does not have a fixed place of business or comes to your door to offer services, you may be entitled to a three-day right to cancel the contract under Ohio’s Home Solicitation Sales Act. Make sure you receive detailed written information about your cancellation rights.
– Make sure verbal promises are put in writing. Get a detailed written contract including any verbal claims the contractor makes and other important details, such as the estimated cost of the work, the expected start and end dates, and the names of the individuals who will perform the services.
– Be wary of requests for large down payments or cash payments. It’s reasonable for a contractor to require a down payment, but be skeptical if you’re asked to make a large down payment (such as half or more of the total cost) before any work begins. If possible, pay in increments as the work is completed. Also be wary if you’re asked to pay in cash, which will be difficult to recover if something goes wrong.
Consumers who suspect a scam or unfair sales practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.