WEST MICHIGAN -- One victim of an alleged rogue repairman has found a happy conclusion after he contacted the FOX 17 Problem Solvers.
Wednesday, Jeff Duby was repaid by Doug Westen via an acquaintance. On top of that, another repairman fixed his stove for free.
The FOX 17 Problem Solvers report on Duby's broken gas stove sparked a large response both online and in the Problem Solvers email inbox.
Messages poured in from other West Michigan residents who said Doug Westen disappeared after they gave him money to fix their appliances.
Westen's former landlord even told FOX 17 that the cops were called to her home because of the complaints.
Westen owns "A-1 Appliance Repair" in Grand Rapids. Monday, he admitted to FOX 17 that he kept the $269.34 belonging to Duby. He also admitted he failed to do the work.
Over the phone on Monday, Westen told FOX 17, "I haven't been working so I do plan on getting back with Jeff, so I was in the hospital for a couple few weeks."
Before the admission, a quick check by the Problem Solvers online showed numerous complaints, a long criminal history of fraud convictions and an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau serving Western Michigan.
After our report aired, Ron Carpenter, the owner of"River City Appliance Service" in Grand Rapids, wanted to help Duby.
"I drive around and meet new people. I absolutely love my job. I love what I do," he said.
Carpenter said he caught Duby's story on FOX 17. He said he's actually worked on other jobs abandoned by Westen.
"The Lord's blessed me and my business, and it gives me the chance to bless somebody else," he explained.
Based on our original report, Carpenter said he had a good idea of what he was walking into.
He confirmed Westen's diagnosis about the stove's bad gas lines.
"The front two are broken. This right front is broken. This left front is broken," he said.
Carpenter came prepared with the replacement parts, and in 10 minutes the repairs were done.
The repairman then said to Duby, "I'm going to donate the parts and my time to you today at no charge."
Duby replied, "I appreciate it, thank you."
"I'm glad there's people like Ron, that will help other people that are in trouble," Duby said.
Carpenter said he'd normally charge $262 for a job like this. That's right on par with Westen's charge of $269.
Speaking of Doug Westen, he left a message for Duby shortly before this new repair.
In a voice message to Duby, Westen apologized and said, "I do have a cashier's check with your name on it for the full amount, and I would like to have somebody drop that off to you."
Hours later, Duby said an acquaintance of Westen's dropped off a check. He showed it to FOX 17.
"I made sure I went to the bank and cashed it," Duby said with a smile.
He's glad he turned to the FOX 17 Problem Solvers.
"It helped out a lot. Nothing would have happened if I wouldn't of emailed you," Duby said.
He added, "I just would have been out the money, and the stove would have been broke, and I still would have to pay somebody else to fix it."
There are still plenty of people without their money.
To avoid getting ripped off try the following:
- Research the company's Better Business Bureau Rating.
- Google their name and look for reviews.
- Make sure the company is licensed, bonded and insured.
- In business transaction comparable to this one, don't pay upfront.