WRAL Investigates

Complaints pile up against metal garage business

Posted February 4, 2010 6:00 p.m. EST
Updated February 4, 2010 6:51 p.m. EST

— Thousands of dollars paid for something they never got – that’s the complaint from more than a dozen people who signed contracts with a local business that builds metal garages. It’s a company 5 on Your Side has warned viewers about before.

The 5 on Your Side team has been following the company for more than a year. The Better Business Bureau gives the company an “F.” The owner keeps changing names and continues to take all that money from customers without finishing the work.

From one garage door to four, from beige siding to red – there are plenty of styles to choose from. The pictures on the Morris Buildings of Kenly Web site definitely make it look like the company does solid, regular work.

Mark Drinkwater thinks otherwise.

“For $3,150, I have a nice slab,” he said.

The same goes for Phillip Beamon.

“As far as the slab is, everything's alright. But it ain't got no building on it,” he said.

Both men signed contracts with James Morris. Drinkwater ordered a garage last August.

“This was gonna be my wife's side. I'm gonna keep my motorcycles over here,” Drinkwater said.

He paid $1,350 of the $5,400 total upfront. Five weeks later, they poured concrete. Drinkwater paid another $1,800 for a total of $3,150.

He says Morris promised the building would be finished by Thanksgiving. When that didn't happen, Drinkwater asked for his money back. He says Morris agreed, saying he'd get it to Drinkwater by Dec. 1, 2009. That didn't happen either.

“I must have called at least 10 or 15 times. I left messages probably seven or eight times. And I've been down there talking to them twice - still nothing,” Drinkwater said. “The last thing he said to me was, ‘You'll get your money when you get it.’”

The 5 on Your Side team talk to Phillip Beamon about a year ago. When he paid Morris for his garage, the company had a different name: Metal Buildings of N.C. Morris then changed the name to Carolina Custom Garages and later to the current name, Morris Buildings.

Combined, 5 on Your Side has more than 15 complaints against Morris and his companies.

“I should have done my homework better, but I didn't,” Beamon said.

Most only got concrete slabs. When 5 on Your Side went to ask Morris about the latest round of complaints, the business was locked up. But when 5 on Your Side caught up with him last time, he blamed the economy.

“We don't want to do business with people who can't understand our situation,” Morris said. “The alternative is file bankruptcy and let these folks worry about it like that.”

So far, it appears the company has not filed bankruptcy, but Drinkwater feels all this is just as bad.

“I just don't understand how someone can keep doing this and getting away with it,” he said.

Last year, a judge ordered Morris to pay Beamon $200 a month until nearly $4,800 is paid back. Beamon says Morris stopped sending payments after refunding $600.

Five on Your Side talked with Morris by telephone. He said only that the business is closed and that he is in the process of filing for bankruptcy. He then hung up.