“Two broken shovels, that’s what they left behind,” Harry McKinlay said.
Harry said that’s all he got after paying $800 for repairs to his driveway. It began last September when Harry said he had a knock on his front door.
“They come out and they asked us if they can do your driveway, looking for business,” Harry said.
Harry said a man named Nikko Stanley introduced himself and said he noticed Harry’s driveway could use some work. Nikko ran a business called Expert Asphalt and Harry said that’s when the pitch started.
“He was going to fill in the cracks, power-wash the driveway, fix the repair in the driveway where the tree stump had pushed up,” Harry said.
Harry says Nikko showed him his business card, had a contract written up and let Harry scan his driver’s license for reassurance. Nikko then told Harry he could start the work right away. Harry left a check in the mailbox for $800 but what happened next wasn’t so smooth.
“He started up in this corner, not a very good job as you can see,” Harry said.
Harry said Nikko returned the next day but only did a small portion of the work. After Nikko cashed the check, Harry said the work came to a grinding halt.
“Initially I could contact him and he’d say, ‘I’m coming Wednesday’ and Wednesday would come, then ‘I’m coming Friday’ and Friday would come,” Harry said, “Gradually I would try to phone him and he wouldn’t answer.”
Eventually, Harry said Nikko stopped answering his calls and texts so Harry turned to NBC 7 Responds for help.
Since NBC 7 Responds spoke with Harry in March, our team has tried to reach Nikko Stanley and Expert Asphalt. After a few months, the phone numbers Nikko gave Harry were disconnected.
Harry said he tried to file a report with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department but deputies told him this would be considered a civil matter and they would not investigate.
According to Rick Lopes, a spokesperson for the California Contractor’s State License Board, Nikko Stanley is not a licensed contractor nor has he been in the past. Lopes said the board has received multiple complaints, some Lopes tells us have been referred to the San Diego County District Attorney’s office for possible prosecution.
Michael Sedio with the Better Business Bureau of San Diego said complaints centered around home improvement problems ranked #1 among BBB complaints, according to an analysis of the group’s complaint system.
“Everybody wants a good deal and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Michael said, “But you can’t let your hunt for a good deal blind you to the realities of the transaction.”
So what can consumers do to protect themselves from becoming a home improvement victim? Michael offered these tips:
- Hit the brakes and do your research. If someone approaches you with a good deal, often times the deal will be around the next day if it’s legitimate. Take the time to check license statuses or the complaint history for the company you want to do business with.
- Always get three bids on a job, especially when someone approaches you with an offer. Not only does it help you find the better deal, it will also assist with your research.
- Never pay for the entire job up-front. Under California law, it’s illegal for a business to take 100% upfront. The most a business can accept prior to finishing a job is 10% or $1,000, whichever is less.