Cases Worked‎ > ‎

2015 Cases

Mediation

Coral Springs-Broward County

A senior citizen purchased a cellular phone from a retailer.  The phone did not perform and had some technical difficulties.  When the store was contacted they indicated they would replace the phone.  This did not happen, in fact, they redirected her to the service provider.  The provider in turn sent her back to the retailer.  Seniors vs. Crime was contacted and assistance was requested.  The volunteers began mediation with the retailer and a negotiated settlement was agreed upon by both parties.

 

High Pressure Sale

Okeechobee-Okeechobee County

An elderly lady (90 years old) requested help in having a mattress and bed frame returned.  When shopping, the sales person insisted that the mattress and bed frame was what she needed and the size difference did not matter.  The salesperson kept her there for an hour and beleaguered her with an array of confusing information. She agreed to the purchase and had the products delivered.  The bed was too big for the room and was unusable.  When the store indicated reluctance in taking the items back, SvC was called.  The result of SvC intervention was the mattress and bed frame returned and all her money was refunded.

 

Credit issued and Job Completed

Pt. St. Lucie-St. Lucie County

Seniors vs Crime was alerted to a dispute involving the installation of a type of brand name blinds to be used throughout the house.  This included motorized blinds which were back ordered.  When the non-motorized blinds were installed the owner saw they were not the brand he ordered and asked the installation be stopped.  There was a dispute about a credit or refund for when the back ordered blinds were made available.

After many calls to the complainants and manufacturer, a substantial credit was issued, installation was resumed and completed. 

 

Down Payment Returned

West Palm Beach-Palm Beach County

A senior couple hired a contractor for work on an enclosure.  A deposit of $1400 was given to the contractor in anticipation of the work commencing in a short period of time.  The contractor never started the project and did not respond to their requests for a refund.  After Seniors Vs Crime volunteers interceded on their behalf, a full refund of $1400 was issued.

 

Resolved to satisfaction

Cooper City-Broward County

A 91-year-old gentlemen had issues with the paint on the hood of his vehicle.  He made the service people at the dealership aware of this on several occasions.  Seniors vs Crime volunteers contacted the service manager directly and requested he become involved personally.  The manager asked for some information on the vehicle and upon receipt of the information he asked for, he offered to split the cost of the repair even though the warranty had expired.  This was a satisfactory resolution to all concerned.

 

Completed repairs

Jensen Beach-Martin County

The volunteers were made aware of a problem concerning an elderly lady and faulty materials she claimed needed to be replaced.  Her complaint was about wrong size impact doors with inserts that were not centered and handles which did not fit properly.  When the installer was contacted by Seniors Vs Crime he agreed to dispatch workers to see if corrections could be made.  All repairs were eventually made and corrected.

 

Liens removed

N. Miami Beach-Miami Dade County

A 79-year-old woman who spoke mostly Russian and very limited English came to the office seeking help for what she believed to be a notice of foreclosure.  The volunteer in the office reviewed her paperwork and realized she was not in foreclosure, but a lien was placed on her unit for failure to pay fees.  The volunteer requested she return with the copies of checks or money orders she had paid over the past 2 years, as well as, the letter of accounting she had received from the attorney who placed the lien on behalf of the association.  These documents revealed she had paid her fees but 4 of the payments were never posted by the association.  The property manager was shown the error and the attorney withdrew the lien.  The manager also made an apologetic phone call to the complainant and this was a great relief to her.

 

New store owner honors credit

Delray Beach-Palm Beach County

A senior complained a lady’s apparel shop would not honor a credit she had gotten 2 weeks earlier.  She was told new owners had taken over and her credit would not be honored.  A telephone call was placed to the manager by one of the volunteers and, after a brief conversation, it was agreed the customer would receive a cash settlement.

 

RV Dealer Complaint

Sun City Office- Hillsborough County

A complainant contacted Seniors vs. Crime regarding a complaint against a large RV dealer. He indicated that he had traded in his RV motor home for a larger used RV motor home. The sales person assured the buyer that they had a warranty on the RV Motor Home with low mileage and it had passed an extensive pre-sale inspection.  The salesman stressed the RV Motor Home was in excellent condition with low mileage. Immediately after leaving the dealership with the supposedly excellent RV Motor Vehicle he found the RV had a non-working A/C and major electrical and mechanical issues. The Dealership refused to take his calls and provided no assistance or support. The dealership was not cooperative with attempts to resolve the matter, but the Sun City Office guided the complainant to the RV manufactured who assisted him in resolving the issue.

 

Auto Dealership Complaint

Sun City Office- Hillsborough County

A senior citizen brought her car in for service at the local dealership needing only a scheduled maintenance. She was approached by salesman that showed her a new model of her older car.  The salesman let her test drive the new car. After the test drive she was not impressed and was concerned about any increase to her monthly payment.   The salesman then suggested a lease, and she entered into a lease agreement. The complainant said she had been exhausted by the sales procedure and just wanted to go home.  She advised us that no contract or lease papers were presented to her.  Her signed papers arrived many days later making her aware of her obligation. She contacted the local dealership and complained about the pressure she felt to sign the paper work and wanted to get out of the lease and have her old car, but she was informed that her car was already gone. She contacted Seniors Vs Crime to see if we could help her cancel the lease and get back a car of equal value.  The dealership was aware of the customer's dissatisfaction & anger and offered her a chance to come in to speak with them about calling back the lease and selling her the car for the same monthly payment. The complainant was advised of their offer to meet with them to discuss these considerations.

 

Golf Cart Dealership Complaint

Sun City Office

A client came into the Sun City Center Office with a complaint about a local Golf Cart Dealer. She had purchased a new Golf Cart and it had broken down twice while she was in traffic.  The first time they jump started it for her but the second time they towed it back to the shop for repair. The woman insisted that she be given a different cart but the dealership refused and said they found and fixed the problem. Neither side would give in.

The Sun City Office arranged for the owner of the dealership to take the woman out for an extended test drive in traffic to ensure her that the cart problem was fixed. Both parties agreed and the woman was comfortable with her golf cart after taking a 45-minute test drive with the owner.


Health Care Facility Complaint

New Port Richey Office

The New Port Richey Office received a complaint from an 88-year-old male, who had recently lost his wife. At the time of her death, she was a resident of a long term care facility. Subsequent to her death, the facility did not refund any of the monies that was to cover her stay if she had not died. After several months of repeated calls and letters, he was unable to get the facility to refund the monies that had been paid for his wife’s care even. As his efforts appeared to be fruitless and frustrating, he finally contacted Seniors vs. Crime. The New Port Richey office immediately contacted the facility and was able to get them to refund the $2,983.25 due him. He was very pleased with the outcome and appreciative of the efforts extended by the office staff.

 

Auto Dealership Complaint

New Port Richey Office

A young man went to a dealership to purchase a new automobile. The salesperson presented him with a contract that included an extended warranty. At that time the salesperson did not give him correct information about the extended warranty. He quickly discovered that the monthly payments were too cumbersome and requested they cancel the contract. The dealership refused to cancel and would not even adjust the payments to a more reasonable amount. The complainant requested the assistance of Seniors vs. crime. After much deliberation, the New Port Richey Office was able to get the contract with the dealership rewritten, and the extended warranty cancelled. A savings of more than $1,700.00

 

Hearing Aid Complaint

New Port Richey Office

A 70-year-old female purchased a set of hearing aids for $4,400.00. The hearing aids did not fit and she began having pains and other ill effects. Within 30 days, she returned the unit to be repaired. After several attempts, the company could not repair the unit, and refused to refund her money. She then contacted Seniors vs. Crime and because of the intervention of the New Port Richey Office, the company reluctantly agreed to refund her purchase price.

 

Solar Power Complaint

Lakeland Office

 A homeowner in Dundee, Florida arranged to have a solar power system installed in his home. Payment was arranged by two loans of $10,500.00 and $4,500.00. The homeowner was assured that he could expect a tax credit and would get a tax refund of $4,500.00. When the homeowner filed his tax return, he learned that because of his income, he could not get the tax credit/rebate. The homeowner indicated that had he known that he could not get the credit, he would not have bought the system. After the Lakeland Office sent the vendor a letter with the complainant’s contention, the vendor sent the homeowner a check for $4,500.00.

 

Internet Scam Complaint

Lakeland Office

 A 79-year-old female was using her computer when a popup appeared warning her that her computer was infected with a virus and she had to pay to eliminate the virus or she would be arrested. She provided them her credit card information. Subsequently, two more warnings appeared on her computer with the same message. The complainant then paid a total of $5,500.00. She later realized that she was a victim of a scam and contacted Seniors vs. Crime with her complaint. The Lakeland Office contacted her credit card company and they refunded $3,261.00. One of the companies involved went out of business and the other in India refused to refund her money.

 

Auto Dealership Complaint

Lakeland Office

 An elderly lady went to an auto dealership to inquire about the trade in value of her 2003 Prius and 2005 Camry. She later agreed to lease a new automobile and trade in her two older cars to apply to the payoff of the leased automobile. After nine months, when she checked her bank finance statement, she noticed that she had received only credit for one of the trade in cars. After the Lakeland Office intervened, the dealership offered $3,000.00 to settle the matter. The complainant accepted this offer.

 

Time Share Complaint

Lakeland Office

A complainant from Auburndale came to the Lakeland Office and indicated that she and her sister attended a timeshare presentation. The complainant’s sister signed documents to purchase a timeshare for $15,000.00. Shortly after this, the complainant was notified that she owed PayPal Credit $15,000.00 and that a credit card in her name with a balance of $1,305.00 had been used for the purchase. The complainant indicated she never signed any papers authorizing the purchase. When the Lakeland Office intervened, the timeshare company provided documents with the complainant’s signature. In looking over the documents, the Lakeland Office determined that the signature appeared to be significantly different from the complainant’s. The matter was referred to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for a criminal investigation. Soon after this the complainant was refunded payment of $16,305.00 and the contract was cancelled.

 

Tax Settlement Complaint

Lakeland Office

A complainant from Middletown, NY contacted the Florida AG’s Office. The complaint was submitted to the Seniors vs. Crime Project. The complainant stated that he provided a settlement service $14,000.00, to submit a settlement proposal to the IRS for his taxes. The owner of the business has an office in New York and a home in Tampa, FL. When the Lakeland Office contacted the owner, he refused to cooperate. He repeatedly indicated that he needed more documentation of the monies sent to him. This was provided to him by the complainant. The IRS never received any payments from the owner of the business. The contract between the parties was signed at the home of the business owner in Orange County, NY. The Lakeland Office provided the Orange County District Attorney with the documents in the case. That agency indicated that they would open a case regarding the incident.

Subsequently, the Lakeland office received a phone call from the complainant, thanking the office for their help. He indicated that a Grand Jury will convene in New York in January 2016 and that the Postal Inspectors and the IRS are actively involved with the case.

         

Car Dealership Woes

Volusia County – South Daytona

Mr Jones purchased a car from a dealer with the understanding that he was to be financed for 72 months at zero interest. After signing the paperwork, going home and looking over the contract, he discovered that he had financing for 77 months at the interest rate of 1.99%.  He contacted Seniors Vs Crime, who contacted the dealer.  In speaking with the dealer, the sleuth was able to negotiate a refund of $1336. The gentleman was not happy with that amount and advised that he would go to the head of the car dealerships on his own without further SVC help.

 

Walk-in Tub

Volusia County – South Daytona

Mrs. Jones was having problems bathing and contracted with a company to install a walk in tub. She gave the man a check for $1,100 and a credit card charge for $1,500. When the man came to install the tub, it was determined that there was a drainage problem.  Mrs. Jones wanted a refund, so she complained to the Attorney General's office, who in turn referred the issue to Seniors Vs Crime. We contacted the company and negotiated a refund of her money, $2,600.

 

Fee for Unused Propane

Seminole County – Altamonte Springs

Mr. Smith purchased a newly built home in Seminole County that had a propane gas fireplace, and a pool/spa gas heater.  Included with the home was a buried propane gas tank. A gas company provided propane and would send bills annually for the tank rental.  From time to time they would order propane. Recently they received a notice that they would be billed a "no usage fee" because they had not ordered gas since 2010. He received no paperwork regarding the propane tank.  A sleuth contacted the gas company, and upon explaining the situation, the company agreed to void the bill for the "no usage fee."

 

Reimbursement from Unused Contract

Seminole County – Altamonte Springs

Mrs. Smith who is 81 years old and lives in Connecticut had a security service contract with Company A. Company B went to her home and sold her their company’s service. They removed the existing company’s equipment and processed the account.  She was receiving two bills, one from each company.  And she dutifully paid both.  Her son in Florida found out she had been paying the bills for over two years. He then contacted Seniors Vs Crime. Several sleuths worked on the case, dealing with the son and company A's office. We finally informed the son that his mom is responsible for the payoff of the contract from Company A.

 

Yard Word Not Done

Duval County - Jacksonville

A 94-year-old woman, partially blind, was approached by a man who offered to do yard work for $500.  She wrote him a check, which he cashed, but never did the work.  We were contacted by the woman’s daughter.  We referred the case to Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office JSO Economic Crimes.  They began a full investigation and an arrest is imminent.  Unfortunately, we were not able to recover the $500, but the family was satisfied the scammer will be arrested.

 

Travel Company Upscaling

Duval County - Jacksonville

An elderly woman (76) who is not in good health and not wealthy, attended a meeting hosted by a travel company.  They presented their travel products in a well-designed presentation.  She signed up for the package.  On her first trip, she was disappointed with the amenities and complained.  She was told that she was on the “Bronze Plan” and to upgrade her accommodations, she would need to sign up for the next level. She did, and was upgraded to a better room.  On her next trip, the same thing happened, so she signed up for the 3rd level.  At that point, she was in debt to the company for $60,000.  She eventually paid $5,000, but could not afford the remaining $55,000.  That was when she contacted SVC.

The travel company is incorporated in Mexico, but has a US office in Miami.  Our sleuth contacted the office and spoke with their representative, multiple times.  It was agreed our client would write a letter of explanation and request to withdraw from the travel plan contract.  This letter would then be presented to their Board for approval.    The Board eventually voted to allow her out of the contract.  Once they have her request for a release in writing, they will formally release her from the contract.   We expect receipt of that release after the Holidays, and will continue to follow-up.  Upon completion, the final savings to our client will be the $55,000.

 

Septic System Overflowed

Duval County - Jacksonville

Our clients, a couple working through a real estate agent, purchased a house that was listed by another agency.  The listing agent told them the house was on city water and sewer, and the inspection report did not refute that.  The couple moved in.  Shortly thereafter, the septic system, which was either unknown or undisclosed by the listing agent, overflowed.  The couple was not able to obtain any satisfaction on their own.  The case came to SVC.  Our sleuths contacted the listing agent on behalf of the owners and were able to negotiate the installation of a new septic system, a $6,500 cost.  The homeowners were not charged this fee and it was paid by the realtor.

 

Cheated by Roommate

Nassau County - Fernandina Beach

An elderly gentleman who was legally blind and hard of hearing was brought to our office by his caregiver. This gentleman's roommate, currently in jail, had apparently gotten his debit card and fraudulently withdrew $860. With the assistance of several Senior Sleuths and cooperation from his bank we were able to get his money back, get his old card canceled and a new one issued. Since this client was living solely on Social Security our assistance was greatly appreciated.

 

Gutter Installer

Nassau County - Fernandina Beach

One of our residents came to our office seeking help in recovering money she paid to a gutter installer who never did the promised work. Although this person did not get a signed contract, she did take a picture of the perpetrator's van with his logo and phone number on the side. This picture enabled us to call him and persuade him to return our client's $1000. She was very pleased as she had tried repeatedly to get the money returned herself to no avail.

 

Home Alarm System

Nassau County - Fernandina Beach

This gentleman came to our office seeking help in getting his home alarm system contract canceled. It had an automatic renewal clause however our client had put them on notice not to renew. His attempts to have the contract canceled and his money returned were futile...until we intervened. The contract was canceled retroactively and the client's money was returned. Fortunately, this person was a good record keeper and we had times and dates which helped convince the alarm company to cooperate. 

 

Auto Transport Carrier

Putnam County – Palatka

In March of 2015, we received an 800# message to return from our Regional Director.  Upon returning the call, we received a complaint from a lady in South Florida concerning an auto transport carrier she had contracted with to transport her car from New York to Florida for the winter.  She had signed a contract with a broker who took her $200 deposit and quoted her the rate of $650, leaving a balance of $450 due at time of pickup, including pickup and delivery dates for transporting the car.  Since the SVC sleuth investigating the case was in that business for 15 years, he decided that we should look into this case since that particular business is known to have a lot of unfair practices.

Upon reviewing her complaint, we realized that this lady had her “ducks in a row” and had everything documented to back up her complaint.  The Broker portrayed himself to be transport carrier.

The carrier did not show up on the scheduled pickup date.  When the carrier finally showed up with her car in Florida, they demanded an additional payment of $750 before they would leave her car.  She had no choice, but to pay the additional charge.

Over the course of the next few months, we received five more complaints from friends of our original complainant who had also contracted with this Broker.

Some of the complainants had put up their deposit and had cancelled the contract with the Broker after hearing our victim’s story.  The way the contract read, the deposit does not become non-refundable until the transport is actually assigned to a carrier.  The jobs are listed on a common brokerage board of vehicles to be transported by the Broker and the transport carrier has to call the Broker to get the details on the load and accept the job.

Even though these jobs had not yet been assigned to a carrier, the Broker refused to refund the deposit and threatened to sue the victim.  We had also been contacted by one of the transport carriers who had attempted to pick up one of the cars and contacted the owner to make the arrangements.  This was long after the victim had cancelled the load.  The transport carrier alleged that the Broker had forged the victim’s name on the paperwork the carrier had been provided by the Broker.

At that point, we felt we had enough information to “bubble it up” to the OAG since these cases involved interstate transport.  Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in getting any of their money back, but hopefully the OAG’s office will have more success.  The OAG assigned our issues to one of their offices in South Florida for handling.

 

Auto Dealership

Putnam County - Palatka

On June 1, 2015, our client came to us and requested our assistance with a dispute with a local auto dealership.  He had visited the dealership on May 29, 2015 to look at new cars.  He test drove a Mustang and told the salesman that he had $5,000 to put down on a new car and would have to finance the balance.  He proceeded to sign the appropriate paperwork and went home.

He was to return the following morning with the $5,000 down payment, but realized after returning home that he really could not afford the car payment.  The next morning, which was a Saturday, he called the dealership and told him he didn’t feel he could afford the car and backed out of the deal.

The salesman informed him that he had until 4 PM that afternoon to come in with his deposit and pick up the car or they would sue him.

We sent the dealership a letter requesting their side of the story and asked that they rescind the contract since our client did not feel he could afford the car payment.  They agreed to do so and we were able to successfully conclude the case on his behalf.

 

Durable Medical Equipment

Putnam County - Palatka

An elderly lady with many medical issues came in over a dispute with a medical equipment sales and rental company.  She wanted to purchase a nebulizer as prescribed by her physician.  She went to the company on April 22, 2015 to purchase a portable nebulizer and was advised by the sales person that her insurance co-pay would be $100, which she paid. 

Five months later she got a bill for the rental of the nebulizer.  She called and complained to the company that she had purchased the machine and did not rent it.  They wouldn’t even talk to her about it.

We sent a letter to the company and they agreed to rescind the original deal and refund the $100 she had spent on the nebulizer which she agreed to return.   As it turned out, the machine had quit working so she was very happy to get her money back and get rid of the machine.

 

Hot Water

St. Johns County – St. Augustine Beach

An elderly couple who resided in un-incorporated St. Johns County came into the office with the following complaint. Both are on social security fixed income and own their home which was several years old. They invested in a new hot water heater for their aging home approximately 2 years prior. When making this investment they wanted an energy efficient hot water tank to save on their fixed monthly budget. They chose a GE brand hybrid tank which has a condenser type recovery unit on the top of the tank which greatly increases efficiency. With the purchase of the hot water tank came a 3-year unlimited warranty. The hot water tank was however expensive, but the couple purchased it with the impression of substantial monthly savings. The purchase price was approximately $2,800. The couple advised much detail about how two months ago the hot water tank stopped working and they called the local plumber who installed the tank. The plumber examined the tank and found a broken part in the recovery condenser.  A call was made to GE to order the part. A few days later the replacement part came in and the plumber was called to install it. This is where their problem began. The part would not fit. A call was made to GE by the plumber who was advised by GE that the original part was no longer being produced and this was the best possible substitute part they could provide. The plumber told the couple this part would not fit at all and would not correct the hot water tank problem. The couple in the meantime were without hot water in their home for about 2 months as they made an unlimited number of phone calls to GE customer service trying to get their hot water tank replaced which was included in their warranty. The couple were unable to purchase another tank since all of their funds had been expended on the purchase. Upon taking on the case, St. Johns SVC made three phone calls to GE. Immediate attention was given the complaint including a phone call from the GE Vice President of Sales to the sleuth. After providing the details of the complaint to the Vice President she immediately contacted the senior couple.  Two days later they had a brand new hot water tank installed in their home at no cost to them. The couple came into the SVC office the following week in tears to thank us for getting hot water back into their home.

 

Estate Sale

St. Johns County – St. Augustine Beach

A 94-year-old senior decided to sell her home and move into an assisted care living facility in St. Augustine. The assisted care facility was much smaller than her home requiring her to limit the amount of belongings that she could take with her into the new living quarters. The senior decided to contract with an estate sale company to sell her belongings and she moved into her new apartment. Several months later the senior had received only a small amount from the estate sale company for her belongings that had been sold. The senior advised our office the estate sale company had not sold the items at the agreed upon values and she refused to sign a final release form for the amount the estate sale company was offering her to close out their sale contract. The SVC sleuth made contact with the estate sale company on behalf of the senior client and after several weeks was able to obtain a settlement amount in excess of what had been offered the senior client. The unfortunate part of this story is the senior client had become quite ill with terminal cancer and was now hospitalized. The senior’s son, who was now in charge of her affairs, was very thankful for all of the efforts of the SVC in bringing this matter to a successful conclusion for his mother.  

 

IRS/Lottery Scam

St. Johns County – St. Augustine Beach

Scammers contacted an elderly client and claimed to be from the IRS Awards Department indicating she had won a $2.5 million lottery and that they were holding the funds until taxes were paid on the prize. The client believed they were legitimate and sent them $180,000 from her savings as instructed. The prize money did not come as promised and in fact the scammers re-contacted her to advise there was a delay in the release of the funds. At this point she became suspicious and contacted the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office who took on the criminal case. The Sheriff Office Detective requested our assistance in getting her compromised credit accounts and identity theft issues protected from further damage since she was overwhelmed by the various procedures. The scammers attempted to revive her trust by sending her payments of over $16,000 in cash.  After talking to the Sheriff’s Detective and us, she realized not to trust them anymore. We completed our case by finalizing reports to the FTC, Credit Bureaus, and the IRS on her behalf. The scammers in this case apparently operate out of a Caribbean Island and are very knowledgeable about how to manipulate the elderly. The Sheriff’s Detective advised Federal Law Enforcement Agencies are also involved with the investigation.   

 

The System Does Work

Flagler County – Palm Coast

This is a story of a “landscaper” and two ladies ages 94 and 73. Both these ladies gave this man a total of $3,100 to do work around their garden landscaping which were never started. The “landscaper” had a long history with the City of Palm Coast Tax and Code Enforcement Department with dissatisfied senior complaints against the individual. However, since the “landscaper” was not licensed there was not much that the City could do regarding the complaints. The two ladies attempted to address their complaints with the landscaper and after two months contacted our new Senior Vs Crime Program in Flagler County. The two ladies were patient as numerous correspondences took place between our office and the “landscaper” without much success. Assistance was offered and provided for the two ladies in pursuing criminal actions against the “landscaper” by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. When the “landscaper” became aware of pending criminal Charging Affidavits he returned the cash amounts to both individuals. Both ladies were extremely happy to receive such outstanding assistance from the SVC Office and the recovery of all of their funds when they thought all hope was gone to ever recover those funds.

 

Like A Fire Dogs Spotted Coat

Flagler County – Palm Coast

A senior client and his wife came to the Flagler SVC Office to complain that they had an extensive painting and stucco repair job done on their home. There was white paint showing thru the darker paint that had been applied as well as some of the stucco repairs were falling off the home. The clients described the poor paint job as; “like a fire dogs spotted coat”. All efforts to get the painter to come back and inspect the poor job went unanswered. Contact was made with the painter by our office and a meeting set at the substation conference room with the client and painter. Both parties attended the meeting and after informal mediation the painter agreed to return to the client’s home and address their complaints about the job. After all was said and done the painter repainted the whole house and repaired the stucco at no cost to the clients at a savings of $3000.

 

The Not So Weatherproof Doors

Flagler County – Palm Coast

A senior client from Palm Coast purchased custom exterior doors for his home this past summer from a local building supplier in Flagler County at a premium price. Included in the sale was installation and a warranty. The client had to wait an extended period of time to receive the doors because the order was a custom order. Upon receipt of the doors they were promptly installed and the order paid for. Then a problem began. The first rain shower came and flooding took place all over the client’s interior carpet floors from the doors extensive leaking. The client contacted the building supplier who was slow to send out a representative to investigate the complaint. The representative reported back to the company that the doors appeared alright and the flooding must have been from something else. As time went on each rain storm brought more flooding to the interior of the client’s home. The client contacted our office who in turn contacted the building supplier. After numerous telephone calls from our office to the building supplier, they decided to conduct extensive testing of the door seals and found them defective after all. The building supplier replaced all the door seals and damaged carpeting at no cost to the client which came to several hundred dollars. The client reported all flooding had stopped and was pleased with the outcome.          

  

AC Troubles

Orange County - Orlando

Mrs.  Bell, 81 years old, was having trouble with her AC and her daughter and son in law were in Michigan. She called a company out to fix the AC.  When the man advised her that the problem was bad and that it was dangerous for her to be in the house.  He advised her he could fix it and the cost would be $6,010. Mrs Bell gave him a deposit of $2,000. The next day two men showed up and worked on it from 9:00 am until 2:00pm. Later that evening they called and requested the balance of the money due - $3451. The daughter in Michigan paid the balance on a credit card by telephone. Upon their return from Michigan, they found a hole in the wall and the panel on the floor. She called Seniors Vs. Crime who contacted the company.  The company advised no permits were filed, but they would fix the wall and any problems with the AC. The daughter filed for permits, and after the work passed inspection, she requested a refund of the charge for the permits. A check of $149 for the permits was received.

 

Misrepresentation of Vehicle

Orange County - Orlando

Mr. James advised he had purchased a 1970 Nova on-line. The ad specified that it had a new engine, new stereo for the AM radio, new trunk mat, a spare, and a new carburetor.  It did not have any new items. He sent a complaint to the company he purchased the vehicle from, but got no response. He contacted Seniors Vs. Crime.  Our sleuth called the company, spoke with the manager who finally agreed to refund $500 if Mr. James would send a letter advising he would drop all claims regarding the sale of the vehicle. Mr. James did so and received a check for $500.

  

Refund of Postage

Orange County - Orlando

Mr. Johns ordered ski equipment on-line to be sent to his Michigan vacation home. Instead the company sent them to his Florida home. A neighbor saw the package and reshipped it to Michigan paying $25 in postage. He was requesting a refund of that amount from the company.  A senior sleuth contacted the company and a refund of the $25 was sent to Mr. Johns, who received it a week later.

 

Defective Roofs

Sumter Office-Sumter County 

Beginning in late 2014 and continuing into 2015, numerous area residents began complaining about defective roofing shingles. Apparently the granules on their roofing tiles were coming off and clogging up their gutters, ruining their yards near downspouts, and causing roof leaks as well as unsightly roofs. Contacts with the vendor failed to resolve the issues or resulted in settlement offers that were unacceptable. Our office investigations, in coordination with officials from the area government and home owner agencies, resulted in a conclusion that the vendor had a manufacturing defect in roofing tiles install during the 2006 thru 2009-time period. Apparently two and possibly three styles of roofing shingles were involved, each with 25 or 30 year warranties. After unsuccessful efforts to resolve these cases with the vendor, we decided the problem was big enough and complex enough to be more appropriately handled by the Florida Attorney General’s Office. In March, 2015, we transferred 212 cases against this one vendor to the Antitrust Division of the Florida AG’s Office. As cases continue to be filed with our office, they were immediately transferred to the AG’s Office so that by year-end, 2015, we had transferred 306 cases against the same vendor to the AG’s Office. Those cases, for the most part, remain open and under active investigation by the AG.

 

Landscaper Issues

Sumter Office-Sumter County

Early in 2015 we began to notice a pattern of complaints against one particularly large and active landscaping company in our area. As complaints mounted, we assigned all complaints relating to this company to one Senior Sleuth. That Sleuth developed a close and cordial working relationship with the Office Manager at the landscaping company. Due to this good working relationship, our cases began to be resolved by the landscaping company in a timely manner. For all of 2015, we open and closed a total of forty-four (44) cases involving this one landscaping company. Of those cases, three (3) were closed as unfounded, three (3) were closed as Resolved To Satisfaction with No Recovery, two (2) were closed as Resolved With A Realized Gain of $1,016.93, and thirty-six (36) were Resolved With Monetary Recoveries totaling $21,134.82. We ended the year with no open cases against this particular landscaper and numerous satisfied clients.

 

Unapproved Pergola Construction

Sumter Office-Sumter County

Our 73-year-old female client had contracted with a local, licensed contractor to build a Pergola at her home. The contract called for the builder to get all necessary approvals and he did obtain a building permit for the pergola. The pergola was built at a cost of $3461.40 and our client was quite happy with the outcome. However, the builder had failed to get approval for the exterior changes to her home from the community association responsible for approving exterior changes to property. A complaint was made to them that the new pergola infringed on utility easements. Inspection by that committee revealed the complaint was valid and our client was instructed that the pergola had to go. She contacted the contractor who was less than cooperative so she came to our office for assistance. After verifying all the facts, we contacted the builder and were able to convince him to return and to remove her pergola, redesign it in such a manner that it met county and community standards and get their approvals, and then rebuild her pergola. Our client was quite pleased with the final product and very appreciative of the assistance provided to her in this matter.

 

Ambulance Service Overcharges

Sumter Office-Sumter County

Our client, a 70-year-old lady, had a medical emergency and was transported to a local hospital by ambulance. Later, she received a bill from the ambulance service for $611.25 and promptly paid it. Subsequently she received a Medicare Supplemental Notice that they had paid her ambulance bill and her co-pay was $202.00. She contacted the EMS billing service to get a refund on her overpayment and ended up with a royal runaround. That is when she came to our office for assistance. After some work with the ambulance service, we were able to get our client a $409.25 refund check.

 

HO Trains

Sumter Office-Sumter County

Not all cases involve the big bucks; they just involve doing the right thing. In this case, our 45-year-old male client was an HO scale model train enthusiast as well as a Reservist in the armed forced.  He lived in Kansas but when he contacted our office for assistance, he was on deployment in Afghanistan. In late 2013 he had ordered some special decals for HO scale model train freight cars. The order was placed with a local business in Lady Lake. He had a ton of emails and other correspondence back and forth between himself and the vendor but what he did not have was his special order model freight card decals. Working via email from Afghanistan, he contacted the Florida AG’s Office who referred the case to our office. After confirming details and that no decals had been received with his spouse in Kansas, we contacted the local business. Our client had actually placed three separate orders for decals totaling $38.50. After talking with our office staff, the local business finally got the special decals made and sent to our client’s home in Kansas. Our client, who was now back from his deployment, was most appreciative of our efforts and highly complementary of the professionalism and dedication of our staff.

 

Unlicensed Therapeutic Massage Treatment

Sumter Office-Sumter County

Our client, a 68-year-old lady, first came to us because she felt she was being flimflammed, bamboozled, played, and duped by a medical massage therapy clinic. She had paid $5200.00 for a series of therapeutic massages. After only a few massages she could tell it was not helping her paid so she asked to cancel the contract and get a refund. “No” said the vendor. She looked further and found that her Massage Therapist was not licensed by the Florida Board of Massage Therapy. Therapists at this clinic were apparently operating “under” the license and supervision of one of the owners. Once she came to us for assistance, we were able to verify, through the Florida Department of Health, that her Massage Therapist was not licensed so we contacted clinic management to discuss the situation. In the end, the clinic agreed to, and did, give our client a full refund of her $5200.00. She was quite pleased with that outcome.

 

Ruined Vacation Plans

Sumter Office-Sumter County

Our clients, a handicapped lady of 71, made vacation reservations at a rather exclusive resort. Her room reservation specifically showed that she had requested a handicapped-accessible room. When she arrived to check in, she found that there were no handicapped rooms available. The room she was given was not near any handicapped parking. Of course she complained to the resort and was moved to a handicap room within a day or so. She wanted a refund of the $406.21 she paid for the two nights in a non-handicap room. The resort refused so she came to us for assistance. After we contacted the resort and pointed out that her confirmed reservation was for a handicapped-accessible room, the resort relented and refunded her the $406.21.

 

Back to Back Cruises

Sumter Office-Sumter County

Our 75-year-old client and his wife booked a cruise through their travel agent. Through some sort of mix up on dates, two back-to-back cruises were booked and charged to his credit card. They took the cruise they wanted and had booked and later, when the credit card statement arrived, learned that they had “missed” the second cruise which was on the same boat and departed the afternoon of the day their first cruise returned to the USA. They tried to get a refund for the second cruise from their travel agent who referred them to the cruise line for a refund. The cruise line, which was a foreign corporation, was less than responsive. He came to our office for assistance. After several months and many calls and letters, the cruise line finally credited his account with $1918.68 for the second cruise and out client was satisfied.

 

Extended Warranty Woes

Sumter Office-Sumter County

Our 64-year-old lady client purchased a new car from a local dealer.  She also paid $1600.00 for an extended warranty on her new car. The car was involved in an accident and “totaled” by her insurance company.  Insurance paid off the loan on her car. Our client contacted the warranty company for a refund on the unused portion of her extended warranty. After some calculations, the warranty company cut a check for $476.60 and sent it to the dealer. The only problem was that the dealer was now out of business and no one could tell her where her check went.

When she inquired concerning her refund check at the warranty company office, she was told that she had already been paid. She came to our office for assistance in getting her refund check. After considerable work and effort, we finally got the warranty company to stop payment on the “lost” check and issue a refund check for $476.60 directly to our client.

 

DNA Testing

Sumter Office-Sumter County

Our 84-year-old lady client went to a local walk-in clinic for treatment of a foot injury. While there they asked for a DNA sample for testing at “no charge to her” so she let them swab her mouth. Later she received a bill from the testing lab for $1379.91 for “genetic DNA testing”. The bill had been submitted to Medicare who denied the claim as not appropriate for her injuries. She came to us because she did not agree to pay for anything and was being billed for a test she had not requested. After we contacted the lab as well as the local walk-in clinic, they agreed to cancel her bill. Our client was really relieved to learn she did not have to pay that $1379.91 for DNA testing that she neither wanted nor requested. She thanked us profusely for our efforts on her behalf.

 

Home Warranty

Ocala Office-Marion County

Our client had a total home warranty policy and they sent out an air conditioning contractor to repair her air conditioner.  She was scammed by the a/c company for excessive charges and they also did damage to her existing unit by cutting outside lines, supposedly in preparation for installing new unit to save time in draining out the Freon which allowed the Freon to escape into the environment.

She was forced into purchasing a new unit by the a/c technician who gave her a list of many problems such as new evaporator coils, air handler had mold and other problems.  Price quoted to fix a/c was $11,999.00. He informed her that her home warranty company would cover $2000 so her total cost would be $9999.

She signed a contract agreeing to the price.  Later on she decided that this was excessive and contacted another a/c company.  This 2nd company gave her a quote of $2000 to service the old unit, noting that since the Freon lines to her home had been cut, it rendered the a/c inoperative.

This went on and between her and the home warranty company and she found out that they would have covered replacing the evaporator coil and $10 toward each lb. of Freon for about $720.

Her goal was to recover $3650 from her home warranty company for the cost of new a/c.  After much haggling, we were able to get them to reimburse her $3650.  She was still trying to report the first a/c company for non-compliance issues and has also filed complaints with several other agencies.  She thanked us for our assistance with the matter. Recovery was $3650

 

Faulty Flooring

Ocala Office-Marion County

Our client paid a flooring company $5260 for flooring and $2945 for an installation from a sub-contractor without realizing that he was not actually employed by the flooring company.

There were numerous problems with the install, including flooring not fitting all the way to the metal of the sliding glass door, buckling in various places and soft in places because of not adhering to the subflooring.  They did not realize some of the softer areas until they moved furniture.  Some of the flooring did not completely reach the baseboards either.

After repeated attempts to resolve this and the installer not doing anything, we got involved with the store manager.  This was a waste of time as he did not care much either.  We then went to the head office and spoke with the owner and informed him of poor attitude of store manager and also poor workmanship of sub-contractor.

Apparently, the store manager had other complaints about this installer and admitted he wasn't the best available.  Our clients were trying to sell their home and at last the store sent out their best installer who worked for them and all was fixed to their satisfaction.  Realized gain = $8205.

 

Cable vs. Satellite

Ocala Office-Marion County

Our client had cable TV and cable internet and lives in a mobile home park.  Her immediate neighbors all have DirecTV and HughesNet Internet and they convinced her she would get more for her money with that.  She called the number for DirecTV and HughesNet installation and gave her information for direct debit for payment.  The installer showed up and was not from either company, but a sub-contractor working for an audio and video installation company.  He went up on her roof for a while and came down and went inside and told her he could not get the signal for DirecTV or HughesNet and had installed a DISH antenna and Wild Blue from Exede instead.  She could not figure that one out as her neighbors had what she had asked for and there was no tree blocking her location.

While the installer was in the house, he checked her living room TV for correct alignment and stated to her that everything was OK.  She had gone into another room and when she entered the room he was in she noticed that he had some sort of small electronic tablet and the screen was lit.  He punched something on the screen and shut it down.  He handed her the modem for the internet with all the cables and left her standing there with this box in her hand.  He did not set up the bedroom TV for her and never turned on her computer at all, just said that all was OK and now she has internet service and left.   She was very upset with this whole deal and when she turned on her computer, she had no internet and no idea how to get it.  She did call Dish and they helped her get the bedroom TV started and she did tell them her story and they of course said that she had a 2-yr contract with them and the penalty for cancelling it was $384.  Then she called WildBlue (Exede) and told them her troubles and couldn't get anywhere with them. Her acct had been charged to her debit card for the first month’s service already. 

She received emails from DISH and WildBlue with the contracts contained in the email.  The installer gave her zero paperwork!  He had punched in her name as accepting the terms and her electronic signature appears on the contracts in the email.

Eventually she came to us, and since we have had some contact with DISH, we know they can be good to deal with, and she talked to people there also and her contract with DISH was cancelled.  Meanwhile we were working on the WildBlue problem.  We managed to convince Wild Blue that her account was done through fraud, switching what she asked for and using her debit card and information to do it.

When she tried to talk to WildBlue, they told her that her account had actually been used on the installation date for a few minutes, but it was the installer, not her. Wild Blue also told her that it would cost her $170 for someone to come out and take off the internet receiver from her roof, so at 71 years old, with bad knees she went up on the roof and took the whole thing down, internet and Dish antenna.  Amazing and determined woman!

Her debit card was cancelled, no new charges were to go on to new card through an account transfer and all ended well for her.  Her realized gain was $768 and she was so happy with Seniors vs. Crime that she came in and hugged us, gave us a bag of Chik'Filet sandwiches and some cookies and cupcakes.

 

Noisy New Appliance

Ocala Office-Marion County

Our client purchased new fridge with an extended 3-year warranty.  This fridge made terrible loud noises and knocking sounds which woke them up at night.  They had repeated service calls and they were constantly told this was how it was supposed to be.  They contacted us and also a last chance for the service guy, who removed the fridge filter and said they didn't need it.  It stopped making noises for a while and we thought it was over, but not so.  Noises resumed again, calls were made by us, and eventually more than a year after buying the fridge the store replaced it with a new model, which as the client said, "made Momma happy" and a whole new 3-year warranty.  Good deal!  Client says since we work for peanuts, he brought us a big container of peanuts and M&Ms and told us about the new fridge which was valued at $1,100.

 

Travel Company Taken by Con Man

Clermont Office-Lake County

A small business owner and his assistant came into the office in mid-August for assistance. They had a business that set up special VIP travel packages for groups based on the interest of the groups.  They had been engaged by another “businessman” in later July who wanted to book their services.  Their client stated he would provide our client with the credit card information of his group members which would cover the cost of our client’s services.  He also agreed to provide the driver’s license and/or passport information of the individuals in his group for identification.

Our client agreed and explained that the desired program required five days and for $5,500 per person, but didn’t include meals or lodging although those arrangements could be made.  They agreed on the deal.  Shortly thereafter, our client was instructed to withdraw an additional $10,800 from the credit cards they had been provided access to but since they had already withdrawn $30,700 to cover the original cost, they withdrew the funds from their own account and sent a check to the person who had acted as the group’s agent.  They continued to hear from the agent and continued to provide that person with additional funds from their own account.  They finally asked how their withdrawals would be covered and were told by the agent that he would cover the costs when he met them in September.

We told our client he needed to refund the $30,700 to each of the clients in the travel group since this was obviously a scam and that the owners of the cards would be getting their statements and discover the fraud.  He agreed and contacted the credit card companies and refunded the money.  However, before they had gotten to the last credit card company, one of the banks involved had reversed the charge into the bank account of the client.  They wanted us to recoup the lost $10,800.

We made contact with each of the 7 travel group members and each had been victims of identity theft and credit card fraud. 

They were referred to law enforcement for further investigation.

 

Dishonest HVAC Repair

Citrus Office-Citrus County

Our office was contacted by an individual who had recently had their air conditioning unit replaced.  They had been contacted by a local company offering a $29.99 “summer checkup”.  When the technician arrived he opened up the unit and immediately began yelling to turn it off it was going to explode.  He then told the customer that the unit was shot and was in danger of exploding.   Based on that information the customer contracted to have the unit replaced.  When the crew came out the next day to replace the unit the customer asked if he could keep the old unit and they said yes.

The customer kept the unit because his brother wanted to put it on a rental house in Miami and get it fixed.  Once the unit was in Miami the brother hired a contractor to hook it up and fix it.  However, once it was hooked up the new contractor could find nothing wrong with the unit.  As a result, the original customer came to our office to file the complaint.  We were able to acquire documentation from the manufacturer, the wholesaler, the original contractor that installed it in the home only two years prior and from the contractor in Miami to verify that it was the same unit.  We turned the case over to law enforcement and the assigned detective followed up and found two additional cases similar to this one.  He sent the case to the State’s Attorney’s Office and they declined to file saying that it was civil in nature.

 

Pool Installation Taking Too Much Time

Citrus Office-Citrus County

Our office was contacted by an individual who had contracted to have a pool installed in his home.  The contract called for the work to be completed within a 3-month period however, 6 months had passed and the pool was not completed.  The complainant said he had attempted contact with the contractor but was not getting any returned calls.  He had paid $17,000 in advance to get the construction started and either wanted his money back or the pool competed.  After multiple attempts we were finally able to contact the contractor and after multiple discussions were able to acquire a new schedule that was agreed upon by both parties.  The pool was later completed resulting in a realized gain of $17,000.

 

Paving Contractor Arrested

Citrus Office-Citrus Office

We were contacted by an individual who had paid to have his driveway resurfaced by a local contractor.  Our complainant had paid $2400 in advance however no work had been completed.  In the process of researching this case we discovered four other complainants who encountered the same situation with the same contractor.  We determined this to be criminal in nature and forwarded the case to the Sheriff’s Office.  The subject was later charged as a result of these cases.  No actual recovery was made.

 

Car Purchase Reversed

Gainesville Office-Alachua County

A complainant reported to Seniors vs. Crime that her adult brother, who suffers from medically documented mental illness(es), had recently wandered into a new car dealership.  He was approached by a salesman and a discussion ensued about purchasing a new car.  The brother was acting strangely enough that the salesman asked if there was anyone he could call; so the salesman phoned the complainant.  The complainant explained her brother’s frequent inability to make rational decisions and that he probably does not realize that he is presently at a car dealer.  Later that same day the complainant received another phone call from the salesman, who stated he had just dropped her brother off at a local hospital because of his unusual mental state and left him with the keys to his new car.  Needless to say the complainant was upset that her brother had been sold a new car and immediately phoned Seniors vs. Crime. 

This office contacted the dealer’s general manager and offered to provide available medical documentation about the brother’s mental status, who had, the day before appearing at the dealership, been released from a mental health facility.  Within two days the general manager voided the $28,900.00 sale and returned the brother’s down payment of $6,288.00.  The brother remained under mental health treatment a month after being dropped off by the salesman.

 

Not So Hot Solar System

Gainesville Office-Alachua County

A complainant phoned Seniors vs. Crime to report he had purchased a $42,000.00 solar power installation for his home.  For unknown reasons the contractor had failed for months to finish the installation and wanted the contracted work, which was paid for in full, completed and operational.  This office determined that frequent building department inspections found incomplete work so authorization to operate the system could not be issued.  The general contractor was not cooperative with Seniors vs. Crime; however, sub-contractors, who were also responsible parties to the uncompleted work, were willing to bring the system into full compliance to pass inspection and become operational.  After six months of cooperation between this office, sub-contractors and inspectors the system passed inspection and became operational to the delight of the complainant.  This office will continue to monitor an attempt by the complainant’s finance company to refund $16,000.00 of general contractor overcharges for the purchased system.

 

Roofing Problem

Gainesville Office-Alachua County

A local resident contracted for roof repair by a person holding himself out as a licensed roofing contractor.  After paying a substantial down payment the contractor seemingly disappeared.  Upon complaint to Seniors vs. Crime, an investigation determined that the person who presented as a roofing contractor was instead using the identity of another person who was a licensed roofing contractor.  While working with the complainant and the complainant’s bank, two cashed checks written to the unknown person were recovered and found to contain the unknown person’s driver’s license number and finger print.  After this office located and discussed this situation with the real licensed contractor, he filed a police report with his local law enforcement agency concerning identity theft and the complainant filed a fraud complaint with her local law enforcement agency.  Both agencies continue to work cooperatively from the initial findings of this Seniors vs. Crime office toward resolution of both police reports.

 

Phony Damage Claim

Gainesville Office-Alachua County

A woman rented a vehicle from a major car rental company for a weekend rental.  She took photos of the vehicle before and after the rental period along with a photo of the odometer reading at the time of its return.  Three days after returning the car the rental company wrote to the woman claiming that exterior damage was caused to the vehicle during her rental period and charged her $790.00 for the damage.  The woman was certain there was no damage suffered during her rental period and complained to Seniors vs. Crime about the rental company charging her for damage. 

The complainant supplied Seniors vs. Crime with her photos and photos from the rental car company along with their claim documents that included documents from the repair shop and towing company.  Inspection of all documents found a 2-mile discrepancy between when the complainant dropped off the car and when the tow company picked it up at the car rental company for delivery to the repair shop. 

 The rental car company was queried by Seniors vs. Crime for an explanation of how the vehicle acquired 2 extra miles after the complainant returned the vehicle.  Instead of providing an explanation about the mileage discrepancy the car rental company dropped its damage claim against their customer, who was very relieved to be out from under the $790.00 claim.

 

Shady Deals with The Contractor

Marion Office-Marion County

In June 2014, the complainant took a building loan out from a major bank in the amount of $140,000 to build a new home. She hired a General Contractor to oversee the building of this home, and gave that contractor the names of tradesmen she wanted to work on the construction.

 Everything seemed to be going well until the complainant was told that the person in charge of the loan expenditures was no longer at the bank. The bank would not tell her anything else about this. The complainant asked for a list of contractors, and a copy of the expenditures from the bank. She was also given a copy of a W-9, a Federal Tax Form, and a bank notarized form listing an Electrical Company as doing electrical work on the construction site, and being paid for that work.  After the complainant contacted that company, they told her they were not doing any work for the General Contractor she hired and certainly not doing any work on her building.  SVC contacted the Electrical Company owner. The owner stated that had not received the W-9 form, and did not sign the notarized bank form.   He said he had gone to the site and confronted a male doing electrical work in the complainants building. The male was asked what company he was from and he said the name of the electrician’s company.  When the electrician identified himself as the owner of that company, the male hastily left.   We later learned that the person doing the electrical work was the general contractor’s brother and was not a licensed electrician.

 The electrical company owner further stated he did not do any work, did not receive any money from the bank, and did not sign the Federal W-9 form.   SVC contacted the General Contractor who stated she would not speak with SVC without her Attorney.  SVC contacted the bank, who would not give any information regarding any of the above.  The electrical company has made complaints to DBPR, the MCSO, The IRS, and Marion County Building Dept.

 

Squeaking/Popping Laminate Floor

Marion Office-Marion County

In 2009 the complainant had laminate flooring installed by a large flooring company. In 2015 she began to hear the floor POP when she walked on it. She contacted the Marion SVC Office, who contacted the company that had installed laminate. SVC was told it would cost the complainant close to $5,000 for a new floor. SVC then contacted the manufacturer of the laminate, who said the flooring company had not put the proper underlayment down.

After numerous conversations with the flooring company SVC was able to have a new floor installed at no cost to the complainant.

 

Refund Collected

Marion Office-Marion County

A son representing the estate of his deceased mother contacted SVC Marion Office requesting assistance in recovering funds being held by an adult family care home business. He had been trying to recover these funds for 5 years.  Despite numerous broken promises, small payments, and bad checks the home still owed him almost $13,000.  SVC contacted the home’s owner, who stated she had used the elderly woman's funds to expand the home business.

 After numerous phone calls, and negotiations by SVC over 3 months, SVC recovered $12,877.00 for the estate.

 

Faulty Washer Installation

Wildwood Office-Sumter County

Client complained about a washer and dryer she had bought and had installed by a vendor. Installation was not properly done and client developed a mold and mildew issue. Client called vendor and her insurance company to no avail. She came to us and we contacted vendor and resolved the problem. Client received $4188.65 for remediation and reinstallation.

 

Alarming Alarm Situation

Wildwood Office-Sumter County

Our client complained to SVC that she was being charged for a home security system through Comcast that she hadn’t contracted for.   After several months of trying to resolve the problem which included a letter from her son who is an attorney, she had no results and came to us.  SVC resolved the problem and the client received reimbursement in the amount of $319.00

 

Compressor Problem Not Fixed

Wildwood Office-Sumter County

Client had a replacement compressor installed in her vehicle and went on vacation.  Her vehicle had the same problem in Richmond Va.   She contacted the original installation company and wanted a rebate for the money she paid to have the vehicle fixed.  After numerous calls and receiving no satisfaction, she contacted SVC.  We contacted the company and the client received a check for $1203.51

 

Dishonest Landscaper

Wildwood Office-Sumter County

SVC had received 7 complaints involving a local landscaper who had pocketed over $80,000 in money paid up front for landscaping services from these cases and cases handled by other SVC offices in the Villages.  Our efforts to resolve these cases were unsuccessful.   All of these cases were referred to the State’s Attorney for criminal charges. The State’s Attorney declined to bring charges for some inexplicable reason.

 

New Owner Makes Good

Wildwood Office-Sumter County

The Wildwood office had received 14 complaints involving a local landscaping/pest control company, Service Smart, with customers looking for resolutions to the amounts they paid to Stella Pest Control before Service Smart took over that company. The takeover resulted in several instances of confusion causing some very unhappy customers. SVC Sumter office was able to develop a relationship with the office manager at Service Smart and all complaints were closed to the satisfaction of the clients.

 

Landscaping Not Performed

Wildwood Office-Sumter County

Three cases involved a subject by the name of Devin Dodd who took payment for landscaping services up front and never returned to perform work. Mr. Dodd was arrested, charged and convicted.  He is currently on probation with restitution ordered.

 

Used Car Had Bad Motor

Wildwood Office-Sumter County

This case involved the purchase of a 2008 Hyundai Sonata with 85 K miles on 11-9-15 from Cannon Auto Group Lakeland Florida. The engine overheated and failed after 15 days. There was a third party warranty which will not cover the engine. SVC contacted Cannon Auto group and negotiated a settlement for the client. The auto group and the client will split the cost of the engine repair estimated to be $5100.00

 

Job Cancelled-Refund Made

Pennbrooke Fairways Office-Lake County

A client from Fruitland Park contacted our office regarding a $2400 deposit put on her Discover Card for a job with a local aluminum contractor.  She wanted to job to be done while her son was visiting on vacation.  Her son's plans changed and the client called and cancelled the contract until a future date.  They were reluctant to return the deposit.   After contacting the company and talking with the representative who wrote the contract, we were able to have her funds credited back to her Discover Card account.

 

Unfinished Landscaping Job

Pennbrooke Fairways Office-Lake County

 A client came to the office and wanted to know what could be done to get a company to come and finish a landscaping job that was contracted and paid for.  The company was contacted by the client, prior to coming to our office and filling out a complaint form, and was told they would come in a few days and start the job. They came a few days later, started the job, but left again before finishing the job.  Our office tried to contact the landscaper for well over a month.

 Their answering machine said the voicemail was full and could not take any voicemail until emptied.  Several weeks later, our office tried again and finally contacted the landscaper who promised to finish the job within the week.  The following business day for our office to be open, we received a phone call from our client telling us that the landscaping job was finally completed and to the satisfaction of the client.

 

Computer Not Working

Levy Office-Levy County

Complainant had purchased a refurbished HP computer from Tiger Direct for $200. The computer did not work properly. Tiger Direct was contacted and agreed to replace it with another refurbished HP computer. Upon receipt of the 2nd computer, complainant said the system was worse than the 1st computer, and was having difficulty getting Tiger Direct to refund her money. Staff contacted Tiger Direct, who agreed to issue a return shipping order for the computer and subsequently refunded the $200 to the complainant.

 

Vacuum Sale Not a Clean Deal?

Levy Office-Levy County

The complainant received an in-home demonstration of a Tri-Star vacuum, which included demonstration of the accessories and warranty, and financing information. With the complainant’s permission, the demonstration and transaction were recorded; audio and visual. Subsequently, the complainant entered into a contract for the purchase price of $2816.24, which was financed through Aqua Finance Inc. FBO Connexus Credit Services, with monthly payments of approximately $70 p/month, of which approximately $40 p/month was towards the interest.

 Approximately 10 months after the sale, the complainant filed a case with the Levy Office against Environmental Home Protection, Inc., alleging that the company forced her to buy the vacuum and the salesmen would not leave the home.

 The company was notified of the complaint and forwarded copies of the signed sales documents and a CD of the video recording of the sales transaction to the Levy Office for review.  Several times during the recording and prior to the contract being signed, the complainant was asked if she was dissatisfied with the product, the salesmanship, or the financing, to which she replied ‘No” each time. The complainant raved about the product and appeared not to be under any duress, nor did there appear to be any high pressure sales tactics used during the transaction.

 The complainant was contacted by the Levy staff and advised of the findings, at which time the complainant agreed that she did like the vacuum, but the payments were no longer in her budget. It appears that this may have been a case of buyer’s remorse, and there was no recovery to be mad

 

 Plumbing Contractor

Escambia Office- Escambia County

An elderly client came into complain that a plumber charged her $600 for a fairly minor job that took about 2 hours. After reviewing photos of the work that was performed we contacted the plumber and negotiated a reimbursement of $300 for the client. She was very happy and has recently contacted us for assistance in another matter.

 

Boat Lift

Escambia Office-Escambia County

A client living in South Florida complained that after ordering a boat lift from a Northwest Florida company, he had not received all the necessary parts. In addition, he was told by the company that they would send someone to help complete the installation. After six months of back and forth between the company and the client, and much animosity between the parties, a complaint was filed with AGs office. After much communication with the company and the client we oversaw the return of the parts that had been shipped and secured a full refund for the client.

 

Consignment Shop Problem

Escambia Office – Escambia County

Client placed her furniture with a consignment shop. The client checked with the shop frequently and was told that the furniture had not sold. After being told this for several months she went to the shop and noted that her furniture was not there any longer. She inquired and was told that the furniture had indeed been sold, she however had not received payment. In her complaint she indicated that the consignment shop owner had kept promising to pay. The client felt that she was getting the run around and need help in dealing with this. When our volunteer was finally able to contact the shop’s owner and discuss the situation, our client received a full payment within several days.

 

Concrete Contractor

Tallahassee Office-Leon County

We received three cases within a month of each other all involving the same concrete contractor. He would go around to various neighborhoods and solicit to repair driveways. His pitch was that he would be doing work in the neighborhood so he could give people a big discount if several went in together for the cost of concrete and labor. He would tell people he had to have the money up front to be able to do a group rate. After receiving the monies, sometimes as much as $10,000 he would do no work or start to tear up existing driveway and then leave. When the customers would complain he would threaten them to the point that one couple put their home up for sale and moved from Tallahassee. After hearing this we got the police involved. After their investigation and the story appearing on two local news stations, another 19 people came forward with the same circumstances. The man was arrested and charged with the intent to defraud and the threats of bodily harm.

 

Impounded Car

Tallahassee Office- Leon County

A gentleman came to us for help to get his car out of police impound. He has a home here and in Dallas, TX. He lives here most of the time and was here when he received a call from the Dallas Police that someone had broken into his garage and tried to steal his car (a Jaguar that belonged to his late wife). The police were able to stop the theft, but the garage door was broken and they could not leave the car there so they took it to impound. The problem was he had no insurance for the car and could not get it out of impound without proof of insurance and the car was also registered in his late wife’s name. We had to help him get a copy of the death certificate and then help with contacting the insurance and Dallas police impound to explain what was going on, He was able to get to Dallas after about a month to get his car out of impound. He came to us overwhelmed and needing someone to help him navigate all the steps in order to get his late wife’s car back as it has great sentimental value to him.

 

Appliance Store

Tallahassee Office-Leon County

An individual acting on behalf of her elderly mother came to us for help with a problem with an appliance purchase from a major appliance store. Her mother purchased a new stove and microwave combination to be delivered and installed in her home. The microwave was not delivered or installed and when her mother questioned the installers they were very rude to her and said it would come later. Her mother felt intimidated by the situation. The daughter got involved and after numerous calls was told there was a problem with the order number and never could get the microwave delivered or a credit issued. She came to us asking for help when she could not get any satisfaction from the store.  After several calls we were able to have a credit issued in the amount of $286 for the microwave.

 

Fine Furniture Problem

Crestview Office- Okaloosa County

In March a client came in with a complaint against a Furniture store in Panama City. She and her husband had purchased a new sectional couch with two end piece recliners. There were workmanship flaws with the couch and the recliners: one recliner actually having a bent frame.  Attempts by our client fell on deaf ears. We contacted the manager of the furniture store and he responded that our clients wouldn’t let him go to their house to examine the damage. When contacted, our client refuted that, stating on numerous occasions, she had requested that someone come to the house to do such an examination and they refused to do so. When confronted with our client’s response, the manager stated that he had done all that he could do and was done with the matter. We contacted the legal department at the corporate headquarters and asked for their assistance in resolving this matter.  Twelve days after our letter to corporate headquarters, our client received a phone call from the furniture store stating that they would be replacing all of her furniture within the next 3 weeks. In April, our client called to inform us the store had delivered her replacement furniture, amounting to a realized gain of around $2,000.                                                                   

 

Hearing Aid Problem

Crestview Office – Okaloosa County

Our client came to the office in April with a complaint against a Hearing Center. She stated that she purchased a set of hearing aids from them for $3,514 with financing through a credit company. When she received the hearing aids in February, they did not fit properly. She returned them to the hearing center with the assurance that they would re-order a better fitting set. From that time on she had not heard from them nor was she able to contact them. She came to us for assistance and when we researched the company, we discovered that all offices in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi were no longer in business. We advised our client to consider looking for replacements in the local market. She did that and when she explained to the new hearing aid center what happened, they provided her with new hearing aids free. The realized gain was $3514.

 

Bullet Supplier

Crestview Office- Okaloosa Office

This case is significant because this is not the first time that we have had a complaint against this company in Panama City. In a prior case, the vendor was very helpful and pleasant to deal with; resulting in an agreeable resolution to both parties. In this case, as before, we found the vendor to be accommodating but overwhelmed by circumstances, leading us to believe that he is not deliberately scamming anyone: just getting in over his head and finding it difficult to fulfill orders that he has taken. Our client had a small order for about $150 worth of bullets, but was unable to get them after multiple promises by the vendor that he would shortly have them. When contacted by us, the vendor had several reasons why he had not delivered them yet. He promised to deliver them immediately. The vendor then sent the package out, even sharing the tracking number with us. Somehow the order was sent to the wrong address. When we identified that error to the vendor, he agreed to just simply reimburse our client for the amount he had already paid and on the 29th of December our client received his $150 back.

  

Warranty

Navarre Office – Santa Rosa County

Client came to us in July as a result of referral from the AG’s office. The clients were contacted by their tenants in June that the house would not cool below 85 degrees even though air conditioner was set for 72. Client contacted Warranty company requesting service. Clients paid their deductible and service tech came a day later. Within 30 minutes the tech had left the tenants house due to power outage in neighborhood, but we were told that we could call for diagnostic. We were told after calling company that there was nothing wrong. House was still at 85 degrees so client called Warranty company asking for a second opinion. He was told if new tech said the same thing they would be responsible for another $125 deductible. Two days’ later house was a 92 degrees. Second company’s tech stated that the condenser was in rough shape. Called Warranty company back, they sent original tech and he left an invoice stating “recommended that the condenser be replaced as it was in bad shape”. The client signed and received a copy of the invoice. Upon calling Warranty company 4 days later was told Air Conditioner company would contact them. 6 days’ later client still had not heard from air conditioner company so he contacted Warranty company again. They claimed they had not received the report yet to authorize service. For the next month numerous calls were exchanged between client, home warranty co. and air conditioner company, with no results. Seniors vs Crime got involved in August and spent the next month discussing the situation with the Warranty company and as a result of dedicated volunteer work were finally able to get the clients a check at the end of Sept. for $3,950 for the replacement of the air conditioner.

 

Trucking Company

Navarre Office – Santa Rosa County

Client came to us in April with a complaint against a trucking company for damage to his household goods, driveway and lawn. In January the client’s goods were moved from a warehouse in Georgia to his new residence in Florida. The containers were delivered to his house in the rain and unloaded with equipment that was not well equipped to handle them under the conditions resulting in jarring and bouncing of the containers on the ground and the tearing up his lawn and sprinkler system. The client took pictures of the damage and proceeded to file a claim for damages. Included with the claim forms were estimates for repairs from several companies. Our client also had to pay the sanitation company to dispose of the items that could not be salvaged. The trucking company claimed that since our client self-packed and did not take out additional insurance that he would only be eligible for $0.10 per/lb. for a total of $750. The trucking company said they would also pay for the sanitation bill of $125. Our client said this was unacceptable and contacted Seniors Vs Crime. After our volunteers spent an additional 3 months of back and forth communication with the trucking company and the client, both parties agreed on a final settlement of $4,969. The client received a check for $4969 at the end of July 2015.

 

Condo Rental Company

Navarre Office – Santa Rosa County

Client came to us in mid-November 2014. She had booked a non-pet friendly condo due to her allergies in September 2014. When she and her family arrived the condo smelled of cat urine and the master bedroom carpet was filthy. She immediately placed calls (12) to the rental company and spent the day looking at other places before moving into a new unit. After two nights in this unit they were told that the owner was there and they would have to vacate or be removed by the police. They were moved to a third unit. She spoke to the owner of the rental company several times about the inconvenience of the moves. She was told that she would receive some sort of refund. After not being able to get in touch with them after numerous calls she filed a complaint with the AG’s office, who forwarded it on to us. Our volunteer contacted the owners of the condo rental company and finally received a return call the end of Dec. 2014. Contacted the client in January and was told they still had not received a refund. It took our volunteer two more months of back and forth email communication to finally getting the client a refund of $250.00, which she received in February 2015.


                                                                          

 

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