12 ON YOUR SIDE: Window installation problem

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - You already paid the contractor, but now you can't get him back to do the work or return your money. It's a harsh reality that prompted John Davis to call 12 On Your Side for help.

John went to a company he trusted. Someone who would do a good job installing new windows at a fair price. He got details in writing to make sure they both were on the same page.

It appears he did everything right. But, John might have to take the contractor to small claims court.

John Davis really believed his contractor would order and install 14 new windows in his investment property, just like the contract states, for $3559.

After all, the same company did professional work for him years ago, finishing on time without problems.

This time, though...

"He needs to clean up his act," said Davis. "Be more honest with people and stop leading people on. If he's not going to do what he's suppose to do, then get out of the business."

Clear Choice Windows' Mark Johnson got a 50% percent deposit in October and hasn't returned with the windows or to start the work.

"He's been avoiding my phone calls and avoiding me."

John was smart not to pay for the entire job upfront. Virginia Consumer Affairs says pay as you go and don't let payments get ahead of the work.

But, there's more you can do to protect your money:

•  Make sure your deposit goes to the supplier. If the contractor doesn't pay the supplier, the supplier can come after you for the money, even place a lien on your property.

•  Make sure workers are getting paid. People who work for the contractor have lien rights too. We've heard of sub contractors showing up mad at somebody's door because the general contractor got paid but they did not.

•  Get the contractor's license number. Check them out to let them know you're all business.

•  Get their home address, phone number and email. They know yours. You may need it if the contractor abandons the job and it appears you might not see your money again.

"I want other people to be aware of this company too, because if he's doing it to me, he might have done it to somebody else," said Davis.

Clear Choice Windows' Mark Johnson may have a good reason for leaving the job but, he's not communicating with the customer or us. I reached out to the company several times.

Here's another tip: hold back some money after the work is done - about 10 percent for two weeks Consumer Affairs says - to be sure you're satisfied.

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