WEST MICHIGAN -- Jeff Duby says a man named Doug Westen took his money for an appliance repair and ran. Westen claims affiliation with A-1 Appliance Repair out of the Grand Rapids area.
For Duby, getting around is difficult these days as he recovers from a recent surgery. He has the added stress of trying to track down Westen.
Duby responded to an ad to have the repairman look at his broken stove. "He lifted this up," Duby said, pointing at the stove, "and he said there's some gas lines that hook the gas to the burners. He said they were cracked. He showed me, they are cracked."
Westen made a quick call, ordered two parts, and said it would take a week for them to come in. “I paid him $269.34,” Duby said.
“I wrote him a check, and he said he'd be out next week to fix it,” he added.
“I haven't seen him since.”
That was mid-March. Duby kept the paperwork and said he has called Doug Westen numerous times, asking for his money back.
"When I was calling , it would say that the mailbox is full, from my cellphone. But if I would call from a different number, he would answer," Duby said.
That’s when he turned to the FOX 17 Problem Solvers. FOX 17 called Doug Westen for his side of the story.
"It's just as simple as this, you know, I haven't been working so I do plan on getting back with Jeff," Westen said over the phone. "So I was in the hospital for a couple few weeks, so you can let him know that, okay? Thank you.”
Westen hung up.
FOX 17 tried to catch up with Westen in person. We stopped by a couple of addresses listed for A-1 Appliance Repair online. The first was an address in Grand Rapids Township, but the womanthere said she never heard of Doug Weston. The second address in the northwest Grand Rapids/Walker area brought a whole different story.
“My son kicked [Westen] out,” said the woman who answered the door.
She said Doug Westen lived in her home with her and her son. She claimed Westen was kicked out “because he was cheating people.”
Westen was a business partner with her son for a heating and cooling business, she said, but was a freeloader in the home.
When she and her son learned about Westen's alleged crooked ways, they told Westen he needed to go to rehab. The police have also been to her home for Westen because of the alleged scams, she said.
She told FOX 17 how to reach Doug Westen's brother, so we gave the brother a call. The brother said he tried to help Doug straighten himself out, but Doug still has his issues.
Numerous reviews online tell of similar encounters other people have had with the A-1 Appliance repairman. FOX 17 checked Westen's criminal record, which proved to be lengthy and dates back to 1980, including numerous fraud charges. He pled guilty to a charge most recently in 2010.
Westen is still looking for business. Today, FOX 17 found a stack of coupons titled "Falling for Fall Savings" in a local restaurant.
However, Duby said he won't be falling for anything that's associated with Doug Westen again.
"I just think you need to be more careful on who you choose," Duby said.
During a second phone call, Westen said he plans to repay Duby and all of the other people by August 10.
Have you or someone you know been affected? Let us know.