Doris Case and her family enjoy a warm fire by the wood burning stove. Case uses the stove to heat her entire Mystic home.
“Oil is pretty expensive. So, we use the wood stove as frequently as possible,” said Doris Case.
But back in mid-December, Case said she ran into a problem after she paid Safeside Chimney and Duct Cleaning, of Hartford, $190 for a chimney sweep.
She said that service prevented her from having heat for a month and the family had to rely on space heaters to stay warm.
Case told NBC Connecticut Responds the service tech admitted he caused the problem.
“He gave me a bill and said 'Oh, by the way, we broke a baffle inside of your chimney, inside of your wood stove, and it’s not safe for you to use your wood stove right now,'” Case said.
Case said the tech told her, “'Yeah, they get old, they get brittle.' But he said this is totally my fault.”
The tech explained the baffle plate is designed to keep a wood burning stove fireproof and that Case needed to order a replacement.
“He told me that I would get a call on Monday as soon as they were able to check their warehouse and find out if they have the part available,” she said.
Case claimed she got a call on a Thursday from the technician saying it would take about two weeks for the part to come in.
She told us she waited three weeks before calling and emailing the company a second time.
There had still been no response from Safeside by mid-January, so Case turned to NBC Connecticut Responds.
“I was really upset and worried that I was going to lose power and not have any heat in my house,” she said.
After NBC Connecticut's involvement, the company sent a tech to Case’s home to replace the broken baffle plate.
A spokesperson with Safeside Chimney & Duct Cleaning told NBC Connecticut Responds:
“We have credited Ms. Case (sic) account with a complimentary sweep of her chimney and 2 gift restaurant cards for all the inconveniences caused with this process. Our company delight (sic) in the satisfaction of our clients and we hope to move forward with a better business communication.”
Case said she was happy with the result.
“I was so grateful. If you have an issue and you can’t resolve it yourself, call NBC.”
The Better Business Bureau reported that more than a dozen similar complaints with Safeside Chimney & Duct Cleaning that have been resolved and closed.
The Department of Consumer Protection says anyone doing chimney repair requires a home improvement contractor registration. If they are installing chimney liners, that requires a sheet metal license.
To protect yourself, Consumer Protection urges customers to always ask for at least three references, have a signed contract in writing, and make sure you understand it.