Matthew McMillen and his wife, Stephanie Reed, doing business as Budget 1 Fence, are accused of taking consumers’ money but failing to provide promised services, failing to provide refunds, failing to notify consumers about their cancellation rights, and failing to obtain needed permits.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received 15 complaints against Budget 1 Fence. McMillen also owes more than $40,000 in judgments from other court cases in northeast Ohio, according to the lawsuit, and has operated under other names, including Fence Solutions, Fence Company, Affordable Fence, Empire Fence, Landmark Fence, Budget Fence Company, King Fence, and Lake Erie Fence.
“Our goal is to protect Ohio consumers,” DeWine said. “In this case, we found a pattern of problems. We’re seeking reimbursement for affected consumers and an end to the violations.”
The Attorney General’s lawsuit, filed in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, accuses McMillen and Reed of violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act and Home Solicitation Sales Act. In the lawsuit, the Attorney General seeks an injunction to stop the violations, civil penalties, and restitution for consumers.
To help prevent home improvement problems, DeWine offered the following recommendations:
• Research contractors carefully. Ask neighbors, friends, or family members for recommendations. Check for complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or the Better Business Bureau. Talk to other customers and ask them about their experiences with the contractor.
• Get several written estimates. Before making a final decision, ask for and review estimates from several contractors. Don’t assume that the lowest estimate is your best option.
• Check your cancellation rights. In Ohio, you generally have a three-day right to cancel a contract that results from a door-to-door sale. Sellers must give you written notice about this right.
• Be wary of requests for large down payments. It’s reasonable for a contractor to require a down payment, but be skeptical if you’re asked to make a large payment (such as half or more of the total cost) before any work begins. If possible, pay in increments as the work is completed.
Consumers who suspect an unfair or deceptive sales practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.