Blacktop Driveway Installers Near Me - When Steven Nguyen pulled his car out of his garage in September 2019 and saw a contractor in the driveway, he wasn't suspicious.
"He told me he was working on my neighbor's driveway down the block," Nguyen said. "The truth was that work was being done on my next-door neighbor's driveway, but it was being done by another contractor, which I later found out when I looked at the advertising sign on the lawn."
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Nguyen decided to hire Better Paving Asphalt and Masonry of Toms River to repave her driveway for $7,800.
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The owner of the Matawan home said he gave Michael Gilko, the owner, a $2,000 cash deposit and received a contract that said work would begin that month.
"Since they signed the contract and received my money, Michael Glik and Better Paving have not come back to my house and have not called or contacted me," she said. "I asked for a $2,000 refund and got no response."
"It will be three months since the complaint was filed and the Department has still not acted on the complaint, despite my repeated inquiries," Nguyen said. "Meanwhile, the contractor kept soliciting work from other property owners in my town."
Tired of waiting, Nguyen filed both the small claims and criminal charges, resulting in a summons for Gilko to appear in Old Bridge Municipal Court on a charge of theft by deception, documents show.
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When they met with the Old Bridge prosecutor in December, Gilk promised to pay back the $2,000 in small claims court, which was scheduled for the next day, Nyugen said. Based on the promise to pay, the prosecutor reduced the charge from "larceny by fraud $500 to $7,499" to "larceny by fraud less than $200," essentially a disorderly persons offense.
But Gilk didn't show up to the small claims case, which meant Nyugen was still out of money. He was fined $2,000 for failure to appear, plus court costs.
Consumer Affairs said it has had 33 complaints against the company since 2014, including one from Nguyen. He said 26 complaints remained open and were being reviewed.
Nguyen's lawsuit against Gilko and Better Paving was not the only one found in public records. There have been 14 judgments against Gilko and the company in cases brought by consumers and banking institutions. There was also state tax law.
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The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports that the company has an "F" rating with 11 complaints over the past three years. There were eight in 2019, and they cited shoddy work and promised refunds that were never made.
The company responded to two complaints from 2018, the BBB said, but the others were ignored.
He said the prosecutor dropped the criminal case. However, we later confirmed that it was not withdrawn, but scaled back.
He also said the reason he didn't return the $2,000 deposit was because Nguyen canceled the contract after the three-day cancellation period, essentially violating the terms of the contract.
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Gilk said he works for eight or 10 other families in the neighborhood and told Nguyen he has support and it may take some time to get the business up and running.
"I guess during that time he got frustrated and because he waited so long, he called it off," Gilk said. "But I already ordered your stuff, supplies for your business."
Gilk also denied being in contact with Nguyen, saying they had spoken several times and that Gilk could always be found working in the neighborhood.
"I spoke to my lawyer and he said there was nothing he could do. He said he could have at least fought if he showed up," she said. "He'll probably pay for it in the next few weeks."
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Nyugen was pleased to hear that, but disputed Gilko's account of events, providing court documents to show that the next hearing was in March.
He said the prosecutor said he would likely drop the case as long as Gilk returned the money. We reached out to Gilko to give him a chance to explain, but he didn't respond to messages.
One more thing: Consumer Affairs says anyone who believes they've been ripped off or ripped off by a company, or suspects any other form of consumer abuse, should file an online complaint with the state's Department of Consumer Protection by visiting their website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 to receive an appeal form by mail.
Were you fooled? Contact Karin Price Mueller at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @KPMueller. Find Bamboozled on Facebook. Mueller is also the founder of MoneyHelp.com.
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