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Home Improvement Heartbreak
It was supposed to be a brand new kitchen for Christmas with sparking granite countertops, but months later the kitchen is still dated and the homeowner is out thousands of dollars.
It’s a real life kitchen nightmare and it could happen to you.
"I paid for new counter tops but look what I got, nothing," said Maggie Zimmerman.
Looking for a deal Zimmerman stumbled upon an email, offering a Thanksgiving special 20 percent off.
But there was a catch.
"He said I had to make my decision in 24 hours, so he was kind of rushing me along," said Zimmerman.
She says on December 2nd she signed a contract for nearly $3,000.
"I said well that's fine but can I pay half now and half later, and he said no we need all the money up front."
Two months later the money is gone and there are still no countertops.
"The consumer complaints that are the most egregious are when they have paid a lot of money upfront and none of the work has been completed," said BBB spokesperson Erin Dufner.
Erin Duffner is the Austin spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau.
"Any contractor who really encourages or high pressures you to go ahead and sign today; maybe they are offering some type of a discount that is definitely a red flag," said Dufner.
The BBB offers tips to consumers to help them chose the right contractor.
They say to compare costs. Get at least three bids from prospective contractors based on the same specifications, materials, labor and time needed to complete the project.
Call for references. Ask all contractors to provide local references and find out if those customers were satisfied with the work performed.
Beware of high upfront fees. Contractors may require a down payment before work begins, but it should not be a significant portion of the total cost.
"You need to do your research, but still there should be a lot more help for the consumers from being taken advantage of," said Zimmerman.
For Maggie Zimmerman what was once a dream is now an expensive slab nightmare with no end in sight.
By Adam Racusin