The once-reputable West Hartford Fence Company suddenly closed its doors for good, leaving some of its customers with unfinished projects and out thousands of dollars.
Elithea Mas was one of those customers.
In March, Mas got several quotes for a six-food cedar barrier for her property and she went with West Hartford Fence Company.
“I was looking for companies that were well-reviewed, and preferably local,” Mas said.
At the time, West Hartford Fence Company checked those boxes and, and $11,000, it cost significantly less than the competition. Still, not cheap.
“It’s not nothing,” Mas said. “This is money I’ve put aside knowing the puppy was coming.”
Mas put 40 percent, or $4,500, down in late March. The check cleared early April, but then May came around, then June, then July.
“In that time I sent more emails (saying), ‘You were supposed to get back to me with a time frame, you know, a status',” Mas said. “At one point I was desperate, (saying), ‘I’m just looking for where I am in the queue.’”
At first, she says, West Hartford Fence Company’s owner Stephen Gifford said he was having issues with materials. Then, he stopped answering her calls and emails altogether.
That’s when Mas decide to post her problem on a neighborhood Facebook group, where she learned she wasn’t alone.
Turns out, within the past two years, Gifford bought West Hartford Fence Company and another nearby business, Hartford Wire Works.
In May, NBC Connecticut Responds spoke with a Hartford Wire Works customer who was also out money when it shut down unexpectedly, after more than 100 years in business.
NBC Responds spoke with Gifford on Wednesday. He said he miscalculated, and that he had to close West Hartford Fence Company last week. He added:
“When we accepted their deposits, we did so in good faith, and thought we’d have the materials and personnel to fill their orders. We will be contacting customers to make them whole in the next few days.”
“I really just want my money back,” Mas said. “So I can use it towards another fence.”
Mas has spoken with several other nearby fence companies and a few have offered to do the job at a discount.