GroundFX Landscaping — crooks
Note: I found this article in my drafts, so I figured I would publish it, even though it was several months ago.
One of the major headaches with purchasing a new home is landscaping. You fork out all kinds of money to get into a home (which most people are stretching to pay for anyway) and then you are required by your home owner’s association to get your yard done within 3 months or so.
So I am in this situation right now… with an additional headache. We are on a bit of a slope, so we need a retaining wall as well. No big deal, right? Just hire a landscaper and get it done, right?
Well, we did just that. We got several bids. Most were about the same with differences being in the creativity of the landscape design. So we went with a company that seemed more professional than others.
I should have realized something was wrong when the guy showed up to work on the wall in a Porsche. Landscapers should always have beater (or big) trucks with lots of equipment in the back. And they should always be just a little “hick-ish.”
He built the wall during my ridiculous hours at work. So I didn’t have a chance to look at the wall for about a week after he had finished. Once I did take a look at it closely, I realized that the wall was across the property line. Plus, we had agreed to make the wall 3-4 feet high. Several portions of the wall were much lower than that… like 1 1/2 feet. And with a rock wall, the lowest point is the highest you can bring in your dirt. In addition, he didn’t dig a shelf on which to place the rocks. He just placed them on the existing slopped ground. We found out later that is against code.
Frustrated, I called the guy, Jeff Nelson, and asked him to come back and fix it. He refused, citing the fact that my wife had given him the ok on the wall and thus releasing him from his “contract.” The problem is, my wife is a push-over. She’s so nice that she doesn’t want to hurt feelings by telling the guy it wasn’t what we wanted and she also just didn’t know any better. So we went the rounds about his responsibility to come back and fix it.
I tried to compromise and said that I would pay $300 (on top of an already payed $3100) more for him to come out and fix the wall. He said he would, but couldn’t get to it for another month (mid July). That was unacceptable to us.
Here’s where the fun starts… we decided we should file a complaint with the better business bureau and check into his professional licensing. We searched for his license and didn’t find it, so we called him and asked for his license number. Checking with the Utah Department of Professional Licensing, we discovered that the contractor number didn’t exist. We call him back and he gives us a different one (one number off). That one existed, but wasn’t registered under him or his company.
We then called him again and let him know that he was operating illegally. He claimed that his company, GroundFX, was a subsidiary of the company holding the license number he gave. We told him that he was still operating illegally according to what the DOPL told us and so we would still press charges unless he refunded the money it would cost for us to get the wall fixed. He refused and we hung up.
Within a minute, he called back and revealed that the license number he gave us was off the trailer across the street from where he was working at the time. He didn’t want to get the other company in trouble. How nice of him. So he admitted to lying about the license and about being a subsidiary. I told him he was seriously screwed because we would hit him with not only the DOPL and the BBB, but also small claims court.
So once again, I hung up the phone with Jeff, only to be called back in 10 minutes. He finally realized he was in serious trouble and agreed to refund us the money.
So after a big, traumatic, soap opera episode, we eventually got our way and brought in a real landscaper (ironically the other guy on the prior short list). So now we have a good looking wall to the specifications we wanted in the first place.
It’s just rather frustrating… contractors… sheesh!