State Receives Complaints About Power Washing Robocalls

View Comments ()
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    The NBC Troubleshooters track down a robocaller who s flooded phone lines across the state with his sales pitch. (Published Friday, May 23, 2014)

    Despite hundreds of complaints to the state, robocalls from a cleaning service won't stop anytime soon.

    Homeowners in Connecticut and Massachusetts have become accustomed to receiving automated calls from a company known as Kevin's Power Washing.

    Les, from Simsbury, who did not want to reveal his last name, says he has been receiving Kevin's sales pitch for years on both his home phone and his wife's business line. According to Les, both lines are on the "do not call" list.

    "All you have to do is mention 'Kevin's power washing' to friends here in Connecticut or Massachusetts and the typical reaction is 'Oh yeah, we've heard from Kevin,'" said Les.

    A Google search of Kevin's call-back number seems to support Les' claim. Online, there is page after page of complaints from across the region.
    Many of the web postings describe failed attempts to contact Kevin to get off his list, and frustration with the fact he's used several different last names and at least seven business names.

    NBC Connecticut sought to learn more by hiring Kevin for a cleaning job. NBC Connecticut news producer Kristie Borges called to hire him to power wash the deck at her home in Southington. He called back and said his name is Kevin Donohue. He quoted a price, Borges booked the job and received an email confirmation from a company called "Clean Tech New England."

    The next day, one of Kevin's workers showed up at the house and spent about 45 minutes power washing the deck. NBC Connecticut paid him in cash, and then disclosed that NBC Connecticut was doing and investigation. We then started asking him about Kevin and his business.

    "I'm not sure how he runs it, he just calls and leaves me a message where I'm going and subcontracts," the unidentified worker said.

    The worker said he has done jobs for Kevin for more than a year, but has only seen him a few times. He told us he thinks that Kevin's last name is Fitzpatrick, and he lives in Hartford, but said he knows nothing about the robocalls or the online message boards.

    NBC Connecticut Troubleshooter Brad Drazen then called the number Kevin left with our producer, and he answered.

    After identifying himself as a reporter from NBC Connecticut, Drazen asked Kevin some questions.

    Kevin called himself "a guy just trying to make a living" and said each business name is a "division" of his cleaning company. He would not give his full name or his hometown.

    When asked about the Do Not Call list, Kevin became more animated.

    "The law is unconstitutional and was passed under martial law. I have assumed a separate, but equal station among the powers of the earth, just like the founding fathers," Kevin said.

    The Department of Consumer Protection governs the Do Not Call List in Connecticut. A spokesperson for the state agency said they have received hundreds of complaints about Kevin, and have tried to initiate enforcement of the Do Not Call violations, but they haven't been able to find him.

    The Federal Trade Commission governs telemarketing on the national level. Bikram Bandy, the FTC's Do Not Call program coordinator said cases, like the one involving Kevin, are clear cut.

    "Telemarketing robocalls are illegal, regardless of whether the consumer has signed their number up on the Do Not Call registry," said Bandy.

    Since the robocall portion of the telemarketing law took effect in 2009, the FTC says they have stopped 2.5 billion robocalls and have brought more than 100 cases to court, but enforcing the law remains a challenge.

    "We tend to give priority to robocalls associated with scams that are ripping off consumers. In those cases, consumers are not only having their privacy invaded, but they are losing money," says Bandy.

    While Les from Simsbury would like to see Kevin prosecuted, first and foremost, he wants the calls to stop.

    "I don't think his right to make a living takes precedence over my right not to be annoyed, especially when the law is on my side," he said.

    The Troubleshooters cannot find any of Kevin's business names registered in either Connecticut or Massachusetts. He does claim to oblige any callers who ask to be off his robocall list, but the online postings reflect otherwise. Kevin said he takes pride in those message boards, in a way, because among the hundreds of postings, there are no complaints about the work his company has performed.