5 On Your Side

Complaints pile up against Raleigh Fence Co.

Posted December 2, 2008
Updated December 3, 2008

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— The Better Business Bureau lists 14 complaints against the Raleigh Fence Co. in the last 12 months. Many of those customers say owner Ken Plain took their money, but didn’t do the work.

Customer Steve Hobbs wanted a fence to help keep his three English bulldogs on his property.

In June, Hobbs gave Plain a deposit of more than $1,900, he said. Now, nearly six months later, he still doesn't have the fence.

“(Plain) came out once to measure, twice to pick up the check and said that the fence would be in in about three weeks – and then obviously, it's been months and months," Hobbs said.

Hobbs said that every time he called, Plain had excuses.

“I'd talk to him and he'd say, ‘Oh, well, I've had problems with my crews and we've finally gotten it all straight. I'll be out there on Monday,’ and then I just wouldn't hear from him,” Hobbs said.

In September, Hobbs said Plain finally agreed to send a refund, but never did.

“He stole $1,900. I've seen no materials. It's not like we have the materials dropped off here for him to do the work, so he just took $1,900 and ran,” Hobbs said.

Hobbs is one of seven people who have complained to 5 On Your Side about Plain and Raleigh Fence Co. Plain collected nearly $11,000 for work that was either incomplete or not done at all.

Raleigh Fence also has an unsatisfactory record with the BBB.

When 5 On Your Side called Plain, he blamed the economy. As for what happened to the money he took, he said it's "all eaten in overhead." He claimed he wants to pay people back, but said he probably will go bankrupt.

Hobbs went ahead and installed an invisible fence himself, but is disheartened by the entire experience.

“You should be able to trust people, but sometimes you can't,” Hobbs said.

Since 5 On Your Side got involved, Plain has finished work on one fence. Another complainant won a judgment against him in Small Claims Court, though he has not paid that.

Experts recommend, especially with the current economy, never paying more than 10 percent up front. As work is completed, pay more. It is the only way both sides can protect themselves.


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  • chaoslovin Dec 8, 2008

    BEWARE! This company has now opened under a new name...Jackie's Raleigh Fence Company. The website is the same and the phone #'s and address are also still the same. It is still crook Ken Plain behind this company--buyer beware!!

  • St Ives Dec 4, 2008

    Inever pay anything upfront and if they claim they need it for material, I will purchase the material myself and have it dropped at my home

  • Bradley07 Dec 3, 2008

    I used to work for a Vinyl Window company, customers paid for the materals when they ordered, and not one dime of labor till the job was complete. He's a thief for sure.

  • NCSULandscaper Dec 3, 2008

    "That's probably because it has nothing to do with the story. Now get out there and dig some holes."

    No it has everything to do with the story, thats why companies ask for deposits up front, why should the business have the liability of not getting paid by a crooked customer. I have lengthy detailed contracts that i have signed by all parties involved, but there sre still some people who are slimy enough to get around them. Ive had my fair share of crooked customers, one of them is the State of NC too. One bad money experience with a contractor ruins the honor system for all the good customers as well.

  • ThisIsMyName Dec 3, 2008

    When I had work done, it was spelled out up front what the payment schedule would be as materials were delivered on site and also paying for a small portion of the labor up to that point. Milestones were setup which included the time line and payment schedule.

  • luvthebch Dec 3, 2008

    I was lucky I got my fence but no without threats to call the Attorney General's office. I actually did call them but they had no complaints at that time. He had every excuse in the book or he would just turn off the phone. I too had a contract and they did a neighbors fence on time but after that he went down hill fast. I guess he won't do any warranty work.

  • Tax Man Dec 3, 2008

    I agree that if you have to "front" money for the job on your home you probably need to look for a more solvent contractor. I have done construction using my bank as an escrow where I authorize payments as the work progresses - but the final 33% never gets paid until the job is done and all approvals obtained. Always require the contractor has insurance - get that info directly from their insurance company, they are happy to send you a form showing the coverage. You never hear about the good contractors - they just keep on working, doing a good job - these punks who lie, cheat & steal keep popping up in the news. The DA really needs to prosecute them and lock them up! No different than holding a gun to your head and taking your money. Get references, insurance and a written contract. Check them out!

  • CrewMax Dec 3, 2008

    "even though contractors like this give a bad name to all of us, what they also fail to mention is the number of customers who stiff the contractor."

    That's probably because it has nothing to do with the story. Now get out there and dig some holes.

  • RonnieR Dec 3, 2008

    I never hire anyone to do any work, with the one exception of building a house, that doesn't have the financial ability to "front" the work. To me, not being able to "front" the job, means he/she, not the pervert kind, isn't the kinda craftsman that I want to hire.

  • BULLDOZER Dec 3, 2008

    I have been a contractor for over 10 years, and NEVER get 50% down on anything. I also do very large projects, but you can't ask customers to pay 50% on a fence project when 60%+ is labor. A fair down payment would have been 10% at contract and maybe another 10% when the materials hit the job.
    However, when you run a business it comes with risks(and rewards) and you as the business owner should be capitalized enough to go and buy a few thousand dollars worth of material for a job.
    If that is not in your company's abilities, I would strongly recommend you get some cash behind you before you go into business.
    The fence contractor who STOLE their money should go to jail. He had no business installing fences for a living.