GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Several West Michiganders have reached out to the FOX 17 Problem Solvers with complaints about Wyoming-based contractor True Value Builders. The Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan said it's also fielding complaints.
While some customers say the company failed to adhere to contract specifications, other customers said they paid a deposit for work that never started.
Customer Deana Gregoire said,"We've got water damage all over on our ceilings. In our bathroom, it ran down the walls."
"We keep calling, 'Hey it's leaking. You got to come back,' and no reply," she explained.
Gregoire said she and her husband paid owner Jim Foguth $25,000 for a porch, back deck, metal roof, and to have two skylights removed in both bathrooms.
"And as soon as he got his money, he would never come back," Gregoire said.
The Saranac woman said the work remains unfinished and that what is complete isn't done to contract specifications.
"We would call and if just by chance happen to catch him answering the phone, he'd say, 'Oh yeah yeah, we'll be out Thursday,'" Gregoire explained, "Thursday would come and go, and he would never show up. And we had at least 20 of those promises."
Brent and Christine MacDonald said they paid True Value Builders a deposit of $6,200 for a roof and skylights in December 2015.
However, the Holland couple said the project was postponed due to weather, but they said the work never started.
"We found out from his office manager that he had actually canceled our job. So at which time we said we would like our money back," Christine MacDonald said.
The MacDonalds said Foguth promised a refund if the couple signed a release.
They replied to his text message in agreement but said they never got a release to sign from Foguth and a refund never came, so they turned to law enforcement.
"Once we called the police and the prosecutor got involved as trying to try it as a criminal case, Jim Foguth said that it was more difficult now," MacDonald recalled.
With no proof of criminal intent, court records show Judge Susan Jonas dismissed Foguth's charge of false pretense. Judge Jonas stated it's a 'civil dispute.'
According to court records, the judge opined on whether Foguth should refund the MacDonalds by stating "I hope that you would do that."
Brent MacDonald told FOX 17, "He has not done the work. He's got our $6,200. Just give us our money back."
Brian Borbot said he paid True Value Builders a $2,200 downpayment in September 2016. The Grand Rapids man said a 5-week start date came and went. Borbot said he asked for a refund but kept getting the runaround. So he took action.
He texted Foguth, "I've already contacted the Better Business Bureau. I'm contacting FOX 17 Problem Solvers, and I'm going to contact the State Attorney General."
Four months later, Borbot said he ended up getting a call from the BBB and learned someone dropped off a $2,200 check for him at the BBB office.
Phil Catlett, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan, said the True Value Builders has been accredited since late 2015 and passed a background check. He said the business is currently not rated (NR) because it is under review because of grievances received by the BBB.
Catlett said, "During the year and a half that they've been accredited there have been a couple of spurts of patterns."
He said the first batch of complaints went to arbitration.
"And then in the last month or two, there's been a pattern of complaints that have been coming in of consumers who have not been satisfied with the work that has been done or the work has not been timely accomplished," Catlett said.
The Problem Solvers reached out to Foguth a number of times for a response about the complaints. He declined an interview. However, in an email, he said he started his business with a positive mission.
"We hire people who have had problems with addictions have been homeless and need help. I tend to try to help people," Foguth wrote.
He went to say, "It would be great if the news someday would report on how home owners [sic] order expensive work from contractors with no intent to pay.
How losing $20,000 effects a small business owner. How most sub-contractors [sic] have drug addiction issues causing theft and dishonesty."
It is important to remember that these complaints against Jim Foguth and True Value Builders are allegations.
The Problem Solvers placed several calls to Foguth's attorney, Paul Van Gessel, and have not heard back. We'll continue to follow this case.