Connecticut residents know shoveling snow is a part of life.
Like many people in the state, John Provini turned to a removal company for help, but he had no idea the service would be as unpredictable as the weather. Shortly after signing a seasonal contract with the snow removal company, they went out of business.
“I was kind of struck. How can that happen? Things like that just don’t happen,” Provini said.
Provini admits that he waited until the last minute to hire a snow removal service for his elderly parents so they could get to and from their front door safely. While it was last minute, he said he wanted to make sure his parents didn’t get stuck having to deal with the snow themselves.
“They’re in their 90s, their health isn’t that great and they need to be able to get in and out of the house when we need to get access to them,” Provini said.
Provini searched online and found a snow removal service called Snow Angels. He signed a $478 service contract with the company for his parent’s Newington home that promised snow would be removed from the home’s the driveway and front walkway between October 1, 2017 through May 31, 2018.
“The part I should’ve picked up on was the pay ahead,” Provini explained.
Other companies said they would bill Provini for the service after it was completed and he admits the pay in advanced policy was a bit of a red flag, but said “I was a little desperate at that point.”
Snow Angels responded to two snowstorms before Provini received a message from the company.
“I get an email saying they were out of business. ‘Thank you very much.’ And I never heard from them again,” Provini said.
He tried calling the company but said the phone number was disconnected.
NBC Connecticut Responds tracked down Snow Angels and they emailed us this statement which reads in part:
“Regrettably, our company does not have the financial ability to continue providing service this season. We have managed to make it half way through winter, providing service to our customers.”
They added: “There are no remaining assets nor is there any future for the company. Things don't always go the way we like.”
NBC Connecticut Responds wanted to see if we could get Provini’s money back so we went to the West Hartford address listed on the website for Snow Angels but discovered it was a post office box inside of a UPS store.
NBC Connecticut Responds made multiple attempts to reach Snow Angels to find out if customers would be reimbursed. We’re still waiting to hear back from the company.
The State Department of Consumer Protection says consumers in a similar situation should:
- Make sure you have all of your records between you and the company.
- Find out if they have a refund policy.
- If you can’t reach the company or feel your contract has been breached, file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Protection here.
Provini said he’s learned a few valuable lessons from this experience.
“Start a little earlier and do a little more due diligence in my search for something like that. Never again will I pay up front,” Provini said.