5 On Your Side

Customers say Metal Buildings of N.C. gave them concrete slabs

In this ailing economy, a lot of businesses are hanging on by a thread. And as customers of one local business found out, it can be risky doing business with them.

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KENLY, N.C. — Customers say they have little to show for the thousands they paid to a metal-buildings company in Johnston County. Meanwhile, the company appears to be operating under a new name.

In August, Phillip Beamon, of Bailey, hired Kenly-based Metal Buildings of N.C. to construct a 39-by-24 foot garage. Beamon paid more than $4,400 of a $17,600 estimate up front.

In September, the company completed the concrete, and Beamon paid out another $6,000.

So far, that concrete slab is all he's gotten.

"As far as the slab is, everything's alright. But it ain't got no building on it," Beamon said. "And they keep promising they're coming, and they don't."

Beamon said that Metal Buildings promised about seven different start dates, but no one ever showed up. He said he eventually told the company he wanted his money back.

"For my $4,412, I ain't got nothing – except being told a story or two every time," Beamon said.

Beamon is one of three people who complained to 5 on Your Side about Metal Buildings of N.C. The second person also got a concrete slab. The third got a building but said it needed $3,700 worth of repairs.

James Morris, the company's owner, blamed the economy and said he needs customers to be patient.

"We're struggling to stay in business," Morris said.

The owner claimed that Beamon never "communicated" that he wanted a refund. Morris said that he wrote checks to several other people who wanted their money back and would be willing to do the same for Beamon.

"We don't want to do business with people who can't understand our situation," the owner said.

Morris said he never guaranteed a specific completion time.

"The alternative is file bankruptcy and let these folks worry about it like that," he said.

It's not clear whether Morris filed for bankruptcy, but he's advertising under another name: A Web site for Carolina Custom Garages promises "honest, dependable service."

Beamon said he certainly doesn't feel like that's the kind of service he got.

"I should have done my homework better, but I didn't," he said.

Metal Buildings of N.C. got a B-minus rating from the Better Business Bureau after six people complained about the company. All of those complaints have been resolved.

Through a refund payment plan worked out after a court judgment, Morris has paid one of four complainants $600 so far.

Morris promised he would refund Beamon's money by Monday – which is also the date when Beamon's small-claims case against the company goes to court.


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