Roofing company leaves customers high and dry
Posted August 26, 2010 2:05 p.m. EDT
Updated August 26, 2010 6:11 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Dozens of customers of Atlanta-based American Shingle and Siding share the same frustration: tens of thousands of dollars spent on roofs that weren't built.
Customers said that American Shingle's sales representatives go door-to-door selling the idea of a new roof paid for by insurance.
Once American Shingle got their deposit, though, customers said it was the last they saw of the company.
Alison Myers needed a new roof because hers is about 20 years old and has storm damage.
"Every time it's windy, we get a storm, I've got to pick more shingles off the ground," Myers said.
In May, an American Shingles salesman stopped by. Myers described his pitch: Let him talk to her insurance adjuster, and if he could get the company to pay for a new roof, she agrees to have American Shingle do the job.
Myers said she agreed, but was skeptical the salesman would be able to accomplish that, because when the storm damage happened, the response from her insurer wasn't encouraging.
"I thought, 'Go for it. There's no way there going to approve it,'" she said. "I was very surprised when they came out, and they did approve it."
Once she got the insurance check, Myers paid American Shingle a nearly $3,000 deposit.
Days before her appointment in August, she received a letter saying that it would be delayed. Then a week later, another letter came, stating that the company was "forced to close its doors" due to "significant financial hardship."
"I'm thinking, 'I want my $3,000 back, so I can give that to somebody else to put a roof on,'" Myers said.
Her neighbor, Kim Hemphill, paid a $400 deposit to American Shingle a few weeks ago and said she hasn't heard from the company since.
"I've e-mailed. I've left messages. I've called all three numbers on (a) brochure," Hemphill said. "I've called the gentleman that initially met with us, and I never heard back from anyone."
Myers and Hemphill are among about a dozen people who complained to WRAL's Five on Your Side. Combined, the customers claim to have given the company more than $23,000 from their insurance companies and have nothing to show for it.
The North Carolina Attorney General's Office and authorities in several other states are investigating the company, which does business in 10 states.
Altogether, at least 500 complaints against American Shingle have been filed with the Better Business Bureau. Some complainants said that they checked the BBB, searched the Web and didn't see any complaints.
Officials with the North Carolina Department of Insurance said that American Shingle's practice of negotiating with the insurance companies on behalf of customers is against the law. The DOI twice ordered the company to stop.
WRAL News was unable to track down Raleigh manager Brad Hughes or American Shingle CEO Carlton Dunko. The company's Raleigh office is closed and empty.
All Myers has to show for her $3,000 is an American Shingle yard sign. She and other customers said they know it's not likely they'll see any money back.
"(I'm) completely angry about the whole thing," Myers said. "They want to reimburse their employees first and their contractors. And then people like me come in third.
"I say, 'No. Give me my money back.'"
Keep in mind that when a business swoops in like this one, it takes some time before people notice problems and complain. It's important to be skeptical about anyone who shows up at your door. Never pay large sums of money up front.