RALEIGH, N.C. — 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.