CBS 58 Investigates: Contractor installs wrong product, refuses refund

CBS 58 Investigates: Contractor installs wrong product, refuses refund

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Some of the essential businesses still allowed to work during the coronavirus crisis are contractors keeping people’s homes up and running. One woman hired a contractor to replace her gutter guards before coronavirus. But a CBS 58 Investigation found her contract contained a number of red flags.

Milwaukee homeowner DJ Liska decided to upgrade the gutter guards on her house.

“It was time, the other ones were falling apart and coming down,” said Liska.

She installed them herself years ago, but decided to hire out this time.

“I’m disabled, and I have a problem with balance. So up and down the ladder is not a good deal for me,” said Liska. 

She saw an ad on Facebook for Great Lakes Gutter Guards. She called the number and met Nikolas Tries.

“He had terrific gutter guards at a really good deal, I couldn’t beat it,” said Liska.

He had fliers, a sample, and ended up selling her 155 feet of Leaf Blaster Pro.

“He also gave me a 40 year warranty,” said Liska.

His quoted her $1,800 for materials and installation. It could be installed in one day. Liska signed on the dotted line.

But when she looked out her bedroom window after the job was complete, she noticed the product in her gutters was not what she paid for.

“This isn’t silver. This isn’t stainless steel mesh. Nope. It’s just a metal gutter guard from Lowes,” said Liska.

The stickers are still stuck on the gutter guards Tries installed. Liska called him the very next day. He said he’d fix it, but Liska said Tries was impossible to schedule. When she asked for her money back, eventually settling for half, she said Tries told her no.

“Well at that point, I don’t want him on my home anymore. I am alone. I’m worried he’ll wreck my gutters, my roof, whatever. And it just goes round and round and round.”

She called the police. She filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. She called CBS 58 Investigates. We showed BBB Investigations Director Lisa Schiller Liska’s contract.

“The company’s name is there, the address, the phone number, or course. You know we want the consumer to check that out, don’t just assume that that is true,” said Schiller.

CBS 58 Investigates found a lot on the contract wasn’t true.

Let’s start with Great Lakes Gutter Guards. It had a Facebook page which showed a Done Right logo. That’s the manufacturer’s contractor program. But the manufacturer, Gutterglove, told CBS 58 Investigates it had no record of Great Lakes Gutter Guards or Nikolas Tries.

The address on the contract was also problematic. 1760 S. Vormont Avenue in St. Francis. Vormont doesn’t exist, although there is a Vermont. When CBS 58 Investigates called the city to ask if there was a typo, it told us Vermont stops in the 3100 block. 1760 would be out in Lake Michigan.

Schiller said customers have to do this kind of research.

“Find out how long they’ve been in business. Where are they located? If they don’t have a brick and mortar place, and they’re using their home address, that’s fine, but verify that it’s true and that it exists,” said Schiller.

The BBB said customers need to check every detail on a contract, especially when a consumer hires a company they found on social media. It also said more scrutiny is needed now that contractors are hungry for work and many of us are stuck at home.

“100 percent totally taken advantage,” said Liska, describing how she felt about all this.

CBS 58 Investigates tried getting in touch with Tries. He didn’t take our phone calls. He did respond to one email saying he wanted to resolve Liska’s problem, but didn’t follow up with us. When we visited the Milwaukee home he has property tax bills for his Northwoods lake house being sent to, a family member told us he wasn’t staying there and didn’t know where he was living.

“I’m not stupid, but I fell for something too good to be true. It’s too good to be true,” said Liska.

Months later, Liska’s still trying to get her money back and the right gutter guards too.

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