On Your Side Investigation: Neighbors pay business thousands for dock repairs, can’t reach owner
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Imagine you paid thousands of dollars for a project months ago and it still hasn’t started. Now, you can’t even reach the person who took your money. That’s what happened to a group of neighbors.
They call themselves the Cedar Landing Slip Owners Association. They pay dues to keep their boats there. That money goes to dock maintenance too.
Rusty eight-year-old anchors, they say, need to be replaced.
Back in August, they hired Danny Brown with MADCO Docks. They paid $4,000 in full.
“He was going to do the job within a week or two weeks max. It just seemed like it was easier to make one payment than breaking it up,” said Michael Reinart.
Weeks turned into months. No word from Brown. And there was a safety issue they say could have been prevented.
“We had some heavy winds and there were three different storms that had straight line winds and three of the six cables snapped,” Reinart said.
That likely would not have happened if Brown got the job done. They had to hire another company to replace those. Now, they want their money back from Brown.
“I think what upsets me the most is his lack of communication. Literally dozens of times we’ve tried to call him. No answer. Text message no response,” Reinart said.
When that didn’t work, they sent letters. The one from December reads, ‘if you don’t respond, they’ll file a complaint, contact law enforcement and On Your Side.
Ashley Reynolds went to the business address listed on the contract. No one came to the door. She left a note with her contact info. She called. The voicemail was full. Brown emailed Reynolds and said:
“First and foremost I give my sincere apologies for not completing the job. 2020 has plagued my small business like many others. Between my surgery, personal issues, equipment failure and of course COVID-19, a rough year is putting it mildly. I do have full intentions of completing the job or refunding the association’s money.”
Reynolds responded and asked, ‘Why don’t you communicate with customers and tell them what you just told me?’
She never heard back.
Nate Dunville, an attorney with Neale & Newman LLP, who does not represent anyone in this story, tells On Your Side sending letters is a good thing.
“In some cases you might just be doing it to say ‘hey we are going to come after you and explore all legal remedies if you don’t respond to this,” Dunville said.
Dunville adds, sending a letter backed by legal counsel might have more of a bite.
“When you’ve already paid someone and they haven’t performed, I could understand you don’t want to throw good money after bad, but you also don’t want to let someone off the hook either,” he said.
Neighbors say they’re determined to get their money back and will follow through with their demand letter.
Remember, when you hire someone document everything.
Make sure the contract has an estimated completion date.
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