COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced a consumer protection lawsuit against a Hilliard man accused of failing to deliver promised home improvement services to consumers.
Bill Distelhorst, doing business as B&D Contracting, is accused of violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act and Home Solicitation Sales Act. In the lawsuit, filed in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, Attorney General DeWine seeks reimbursement for affected consumers and an end to any violations of the law.
According to the lawsuit, Distelhorst offered home improvement goods and services, such as basement finishing or driveway paving, but then either failed to provide any of the work or provided only a small portion. He also is accused of failing to provide refunds to consumers, failing to properly notify consumers of their cancellation rights, and failing to register his business name with the Ohio Secretary of State.
Since 2015, six consumers have filed complaints against B&D Contracting with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or Better Business Bureau. Estimated damages currently total more than $22,000.
To help consumers avoid home improvement problems, Attorney General DeWine offered the following recommendations:
Research a company before making any payments — Search for complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or Better Business Bureau. Check to see if the business is registered with the Ohio Secretary of State. Also conduct an internet search with the name of the business and words like “reviews” or “complaints.” Be skeptical if you find no information. Some operators change business names regularly to make it harder for consumers to detect their record of shoddy work.
Get multiple estimates — For a large job, consider contacting at least three different businesses before making a final selection. Keep in mind that the company that gives you the lowest estimate may not necessarily deliver the best results.
Check your cancellation rights — If a seller does not have a fixed place of business or comes to your door to offer services, you may be entitled to a three-day right to cancel the contract under Ohio’s Home Solicitation Sales Act. Make sure you receive detailed written information about your cancellation rights.
Make sure verbal promises are put in writing — Get a detailed written contract including any verbal claims the contractor makes and other important details, such as the estimated cost of the work, the expected start and end dates, and the names of the individuals who will perform the services.
Be wary of requests for large down payments or cash payments — It’s reasonable for a contractor to require a down payment, but be skeptical if you’re asked to make a large down payment (such as half or more of the total cost) before any work begins. If possible, pay in increments as the work is completed. Also be wary if you’re asked to pay in cash, which will be difficult to recover if something goes wrong.
Consumers who suspect a scam or unfair sales practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.