David Hogan and his wife have lived in their West Haven home for 55 years. Their daughter, Gail Franklin, checks on her parents often, but she was not aware that someone else was also checking in on the couple.
“My father was receiving phone calls. They were cold calls from a company called All Star Chimney, where they were calling him and asking if he needed chimney cleaning. He said no,” said Franklin.
Franklin said her dad gave in after the third phone call and a crew from the New York-based company showed up to do what they said was a chimney inspection.
“They went downstairs and he was watching my mom and he came upstairs and he heard this banging,” said Franklin.
Franklin told us her dad then discovered a huge hole in the chimney. The workers told him the chimney was not safe to use and needed to be relined so he paid them $2,902 for the repairs. Franklin claimed the company never gave her dad a price quote before starting the work.
“They got ripped off. They got ripped off,” said Franklin.
She called All Star Chimney Solutions and told the customer service representative that there was a miscommunication because her parents have a service contract with another company. When she couldn’t reach the company again, Franklin said she filed a complaint with the Department of Consumer Protection, the Better Business Bureau, and disputed the $2,902 charge with the credit card company, but the company ruled in favor of the business.
That’s when Franklin turned to NBC Connecticut Responds.
We emailed and called the company’s owner, John Estevez, and he got back to us saying his crew did what was needed. He declined to speak with us further about what happened and he would not provide a statement. Instead, Estevez tells Responds that he will refund Franklin’s parents the $2,902 they paid.
Responds found out that All Star Chimney Solutions is not accredited with the Better Business Bureau, but the company has a C minus rating with the BBB. Eight other complaints were filed against the company for similar issues.
“This is a typical thing that occurs this time of year,” said Lora Rae Anderson, Department of Consumer Protection. Anderson is looking into Franklin’s complaint.
“When we found out it was unsolicited phone call to a member of the elderly community, we thought this sounds like somebody who’s clearly somebody who could be more susceptible to a scam,” said Anderson.
She suggests that seniors have someone with them when scheduling home improvements and avoid unsolicited callers.
“Don’t do business with that person. If you haven’t requested a quote and someone is just calling you, it’s probably not the best person to do business with,” added Anderson.
A lesson learned for Franklin’s parents, but she’s pleased that Responds was there to intervene.
“I just want to thank you very much for your time and for taking on this case,” said Franklin.