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Painter accused of avoiding work and repayment

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HUDSONVILLE, Mich. -- Pam Diekevers said she's tired of looking at the walls and doors in her home. They're constant reminders of thousands of dollars spent on a job that's still obviously incomplete, even though her family hired a local painter four months ago.

"He charged us $3,000 to do all this work," Diekevers said.

In mid-July, she hired painter Brent Stevens. He owns Touch of Class Painting in Grandville and was supposed to prime and paint the walls, ceiling, baseboards, doors, and other features in her home. Diekevers said Stevens started the work but had to take a break when her building contractor needed to install new trim.

"The excuse he keeps giving us is that the builder slowed him down. But come on, this has been July, and here we are in November," she said.

Diekevers said Stevens made several promises to come back to finish the job but never did. When she continued to contact him, she said he started giving other excuses.

"The first excuse was that he was out of town and then the next excuse was he was sick, she said. "And then the next excuse was he had a herniated disk, and that he wasn't working, and that he could not pay me back the $3,000 he owed."

She said Stevens eventually agreed to pay back $2,000 in installments, even though she had paid him in full.

"He should have it set aside somewhere," Diekevers said.

The Problem Solvers called Brent Stevens and left a message. After nearly three days of not hearing back, FOX 17 went knocking. Stevens came to the door and said he's willing to pay the family back.

"I got to set up on a payment plan," Stevens said.

When asked, the painter didn't say what happened to the Diekevers' funds. But he said the contractor doing the trim work messed up his whole schedule. Stevens said he had other jobs going on at that time.

He said he’s not sure he can pay large sums but would still be willing to make those monthly payments if the Diekevers trust him to do so.

"I'm not running from the situation," Stevens said.

He added, "I'd rather it just pay in full if I can possibly, but at this point in time I can't. I'm not into screwing anybody over. I'm fair and honest."

"I just need it resolved," Diekevers said, "and I would like him to come forward and just pay me my money back."

Stevens believes he completed $1,000 worth of work. Mr. Diekevers disagrees and feels a full refund is due. The family said it's already started painting the walls themselves.

The Diekevers said the painter asked for half of the money upfront, but the family made the mistake of paying in full. The Better Business Bureau suggests you never pay in full upfront.

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  • jeffinbville (@jeffinputnam)

    On short jobs I’ll ask for 50% down with that money covering the cost of materials and, of course, I have bills to pay while I’m working at your house. On longer jobs I’ll ask for 1/3 at the beginning, 1/3 around the middle and 1/3 at the end. This is pretty standard in the business.

    It is not uncommon for a job to be delayed by a slow contractor or one who does a crappy job putting up trim or a sheetrock guy/gal who leaves before they’ve sanded. But it’s clear the painter in this story is an embarrassment to the rest of us because there’s no reason he couldn’t work with the contractor. Sure, take a day off while the guy puts up trim in a room but then come back tomorrow to work that room while the contractor is working in another.

    And what’s with the roller marks on the walls from the ceiling and how come the trim wasn’t caulked and what’s the crappy paint?

    Lastly, I’ve also gotten sick while I was on a job and/or had my car die but then I keep a couple others area painters on speed-dial in case something like that should happen. I’m not afraid to share the work that way if it keeps customers happy and neither should this guy.

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