A corner cutting city home improvement contractor was fined $8,050 for swindling a consumer out of few thousand dollars, announced the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
The division investigated Flash Painting Inc. following a complaint from an unhappy customer in 2013. Investigators found the company was unregistered when it entered into a contract with a resident to perform home improvement work.
Investigators found the company failed to provide a copy of the certificate of liability insurance to the consumer in violation of the Contractors’ Registration Act, according to the division. The company, after it was hired, failed to begin or complete work within the time frame specified in the contract violating the state’s home improvement regulations.
It also failed to provide specifics as to when the work would begin and when it would end, according to the state. The company’s contract with the consumer also did not bare signatures of all parties.
The consumer who reported the company is set to receive $2,800 in restitution and the company along with its owner, Luis Jimenez, has been additionally levied a fine $5,250 for breaking several state laws regulating home improvement.
The city company wasn’t alone, a total of 68 companies throughout the Garden State were fined $1.3 million on Wednesday, for alleged violations of consumer protection laws. The contractors must pay a combined $1,046,978 in restitution to consumers and pay $276,250 in civil penalties, according to the state.
“Home improvement disputes are consistently the number-one consumer complaint category the Division of Consumer Complaints receives year after year,” acting attorney general John Hoffman said. “With this action we are demanding more than $1 million in restitution for consumers who paid for work that allegedly was never finished.”
Of the 68 companies the large bulk of them, 44 were found to be unregistered, according to the state. Hoffman said the unregistered companies will be offered an opportunity to mend their ways by registering with the state and adhering to the state’s consumer protection laws.
Authorities investigated 1,434 consumer complaints that led to the fines, officials said.
“When contractors fail to comply with the law, or the terms of their contracts, consumers can be left with costs in the tens of thousands of dollars and a house full of unfinished improvements,” Division of Consumer Affairs acting director Steve Lee said. “Our registration laws help place consumers on equal footing with the contractors they hire, and help ensure that those contractors can be held accountable.”
The city company has been ordered to cease and desist from violating state regulations.