Local News

Two home repair companies cited for failing to honor state law

Posted May 10, 2010 1:52 p.m. EDT
Updated May 10, 2010 2:19 p.m. EDT

— Two home repair companies have been ordered to pay a total of $100,000 for violating a North Carolina law that allows consumers three days to cancel any door-to-door sales contracts, state Attorney General Roy Cooper said Monday.

In North Carolina, customers have the right to cancel most contracts for door-to-door sales or in-home solicitations within three days of signing the contract. Door-to-door sellers are required by law to inform consumers of the three-day right to cancel orally and in writing.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Michael R. Morgan signed permanent injunctions last week against The Window Pros, a replacement window company located in Statesville, and H.A.R.D Top Asphalt Maintenance, a paving contractor in Pender County.

The companies are now under court order to abide by state law on cancellation of contracts.

In separate lawsuits filed in 2008, Cooper alleged that the companies often failed to tell consumers about their right to cancel, and then made it difficult if not impossible for consumers to cancel contracts under the law.

Cooper alleged that H.A.R.D. Top and its owner Henry Heil regularly targeted seniors, charging high prices and then performing poor work. According to consumer complaints, Heil showed up at people’s homes in eastern North Carolina and offered to pave their driveways. He sometimes began paving before the homeowner authorized the work and then demanded immediate payment.

Under the judge’s order, H.A.R.D. Top and Heil must now wait four days after a consumer signs a contract before beginning work to make sure that consumers have time to reconsider and cancel the work. H.A.R.D. Top and Heil’s work must also meet all local ordinances and paving industry standards. H.A.R.D. Top has also agreed to pay $50,000 for consumer refunds and education, Cooper said.

Cooper’s complaint against The Window Pros alleged that the company made it very difficult for consumers to cancel contracts within the three-day window. According to consumer complaints, homeowners who wanted to cancel their contracts with the company were told that they had to get their cancellation forms notarized first. Under state law, consumers are only required to sign the form and mail it in, and it does not need to be notarized.

Consumers also said The Window Pros threatened to sue some homeowners or place liens on their homes if they canceled. When some consumers called to cancel, they got an immediate visit from one of the company’s agents who tried to force them to either pay the amount of the contract or sign papers to finance installation of windows on their home. People wound up paying the company thousands of dollars to cancel their contracts.

Under the judgment and settlement announced on Monday, The Window Pros will pay $50,000 for consumer refunds and education. The company must also fully comply with the law that allows consumers to cancel the contracts and make sure that all of its sales agents have been instructed on the requirements of the law.

“If someone comes knocking on your door, offering to work on your home, check them out thoroughly before you say yes,” Cooper said. “And if you decide to go ahead with the work, make sure you know about your right to cancel.”

Under state law, consumers have three days to cancel certain purchases or transactions even after a contract has been signed and money has been paid. For sales of goods or services that take place away from seller’s normal place of business, including door-to-door or in-home sales, consumers have three days to cancel by returning the written cancelation form. The three-day right to cancel does not apply to:

  • Sales for less than $25,
  • Sales made entirely over the telephone or through the mail,
  • Sales or rentals of real estate,
  • Sales of insurance or securities, or
  • Sales made after negotiations at the seller's normal place of business or at a permanent retail shop.