DINWIDDIE, VA (WWBT) - A Dinwiddie family is frustrated because they've not had a heating system in their home during the coldest months of the year, even though they paid someone more than $2,000 to buy the necessary equipment to do the job.
"I don't think we've ever gotten ripped off like that before," said Lisa Reed, whose family is keeping their Dinwiddie home warm right now by using space heaters after paying $2,200 to Ricky Reynolds in November for a heat pump and air handler. The family said he would also install it.
"Well, it didn't work that way [because] he never bought the equipment, and we never got our money," Reed said. "He lied from the first day until the last on text."
By text, Reynolds first said the supplier delivered the wrong part. Then he said when the part allegedly came in the second time, it was damaged. "We finally called the company when we knew he was going to get it. He never ordered one," Reed said.
When the Reed's demanded a refund, they said Reynolds admitted by text that he didn't have the money because the account where he had deposited it had been garnished. Only Reed said she later learned that too was not true.
She knew she didn't properly vet Reynolds. Our investigation revealed one other person won a judgment against him for $4,800 for failure to perform services, and, at least, two other cases are pending all for similar circumstances.
"There is no great deal. There is no great deal," said Tom Gallagher with the Richmond Better Business Bureau.
Gallagher said to always check out the people you're doing business with and learn their reputation in the marketplace.
"Only do something with a great contract where it's spelled out what you're buying, what the company's installing [and] how long it's gonna take when the job is gonna get done," Gallagher said.
Also, Gallagher said it's best to deal with a licensed contractor, that way if something goes wrong, you have some protections under the contractor's recovery fund. We did some digging and found that Ricky Reynolds is not licensed.
Tom Gallagher with the BBB also said it's best to always get at least three estimates before going with a contractor to do your job, and make sure you hold on to a substantial amount of the full payment, or at least a third of it, until the job is done to your satisfaction.
Reed did take her case to court and got a judgment for the $2,200 she gave Reynolds plus interest. Colonial Heights Police said he was subsequently arrested on construction fraud charges but is now out on bond, and the court clerk's office said a felony case is now pending against him stemming from what happened with Reed. Still, Reed hasn't seen a dime of her money and doesn't know when she will.
"He hurt our family big time money wise right around Christmas," Reed said. "He needs to go to jail for what he's done to me and whoever else."
We tried reaching Ricky Reynolds repeatedly, even going to his home. He responded with a voicemail message saying he didn't want to talk until after he spoke to his attorney. That was weeks ago, and we have not heard from him since.
Copyright 2016 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.