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Stuck with a roof that leaks

By NANCY PARADIS

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 1, 2001


We are writing to you with the hope you can assist us in getting what we paid for. As you can see from the copy of our contract, we had many repairs done to our home starting in May 2000 by Michael Basilotto of Complete Home Care. Just about everything he did had to be redone.

However, our big problem is our screened-porch roof. It has leaked ever since it was installed last July. Mr. Basilotto gave us a one-year warranty on the roof against leaks, but the warranty is worthless; he has ignored our calls for the past two months. We called another roofing company to assess the roof; it detected problems with the installation and gave us an estimate of $650 to correct Mr. Basilotto's work.

We paid Complete Home Care a total of $11,150, of which $8,000 was for the porch. After spending that amount of money on it, we think the porch should be usable. Richard and Nancy Loewus

Response: The letter we sent to Complete Home Care was returned, marked "moved, left no forwarding address," and the business phone has been disconnected. However, we did manage to reach Basilotto on his cell phone. He was clearly familiar with your complaint, even though our letter had not reached him; he said he had just contacted you and agreed to reimburse you the $650 you spent to repair your porch roof. He did say he had not sent the check yet, but assured us he would do so.

We had discovered, through the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations' online records, that Complete Home Care (of South Florida) had been dissolved in 1993. When we mentioned this to Basilotto, he said he knew it. We also asked him whether he was licensed, since we had noted no license number on his contract. (If you look at your copy, you will see that the space next to "Florida State License Number" is blank.) Basilotto said he was licensed, but that he did not see why we needed his license number, since he was going to refund your additional expense.

We subsequently checked with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which has no record of any licenses for Michael Basilotto. His contract, however, lists a number of professions in the construction field that require a state license, such as plumbing, electrical and roofing. Without a state license in those fields requiring one, Basilotto also cannot be registered or licensed in Pinellas County, a requirement for those performing much of the kind of work he did for you and which his contract indicates he does. Furthermore, in the case of painting jobs of more than $500, in Pinellas County, where you live, painters are required to have a county competency license. A check with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board revealed that Basilotto does not have one.

We hope you read the column of June 24, which dealt with hiring contractors. (Let us know if you did not, and we will send you a copy.) In the meantime, if you wish, you may file a complaint with Pinellas County Consumer Protection at (727) 464-6200, which can investigate the activities of unlicensed contractors.

Problems with painters

As you can see from my letters, I have tried to resolve my problems with Angel's Painting in St. Petersburg with no success. I cannot get the owner to call me back or try to resolve this matter.

We selected Angel's to paint our house and garage because we were impressed with work it had done for others. In our case, however, we were disappointed from the beginning. We had no communication with a supervisor regarding the colors we selected; there was a different work crew every day, and it lacked the proper equipment, such as long-enough ladders.

We also had to clean up every day after the crew, which left lunch bags, coffee cups, cigarette butts and other assorted debris behind. What I would like from Angel's at this point is $75 for the globe the security light the workers broke (or replacement if possible); the cost of the paint, $56, I had to buy to repaint the steps that started peeling and had been painted the wrong color; and a waiver of the $50 we held for my time in having to repaint those steps.

If we cannot resolve this matter through Action, I guess I will just have to spend the money and drag Angel's Painting into Small Claims Court, which, of course, will cost it more money. Michael Golden

Response: Rick Niger, president of Angel's Painting in St. Petersburg, said that several visits were made to your home in an effort to make you happy. The steps were repainted once and Angel's offered to paint them again. Niger said you declined because you had already repainted them yourself. The company does not warranty steps, he said.

With regard to the globe on the exterior light being broken, Niger said he told you to keep the $50 balance you owe Angel's and pick out a globe you like, since a matching replacement could not be found.

Like you, we also checked with the Better Business Bureau of West Florida in Clearwater, and according to its report, Angel's Painting has an unsatisfactory record resulting from unanswered complaints. The reports generally cover a period of three years, but we were told it does not give a breakdown of how many complaints have been received or during which time period.

Pinellas County Consumer Protection has received four complaints within the past five years. Two were resolved by the company and one was closed as civil, indicating that some other civil action was taken.

Before you take the company to Small Claims Court, as your letter stated you would, we urge you to consider whether the time and expense are worth the relatively small additional amount you hope to recover -- and that's if you win a favorable judgment.

* * *

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. If you have a question, or your own attempts to resolve a consumer complaint have failed, write Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or call your Action number, (727) 893-8171, or, outside of Pinellas, toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8171, to leave a recorded request.

Requests will be accepted only by mail or voice mail; calls cannot be returned. We will not be responsible for personal documents, so please send only photocopies. If your complaint concerns merchandise ordered by mail, we need copies of both sides of your canceled check.

We may require additional information or prefer to reply by mail; therefore, readers must provide a full mailing address, including ZIP code. Names of letter writers will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

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