GREENFIELD, Ind. -- Three homeowners in the same neighborhood came to CBS4 Problem Solvers for help after a project that should've taken six weeks ended up taking six months.
All three homeowners hired Indianapolis-based Shade by Design in July of 2019 to install motorized retractable awnings over their patios. They each signed contracts and paid half up front -- roughly $1,300.
"He said it would probably be three-to-six weeks," Jama Spicer said.
Spicer's aunt, who is in her 90's, hoped the awning would allow her to use her patio, which is exposed to sun and wind because of its location alongside a pond. After six weeks, though, the two could not get a hold of the company for a projected installation date.
"She at first thought they've closed, they're not in business anymore," Spicer said. "When I called one time and it just rang and rang, I thought the same thing."
As Spicer was trying to get a hold of the company, her neighbors, John "Woody" Woods and David Robinson, were fighting the same battle.
"They just didn't show up. We were ready, and they would not show up," Woods said.
By late November, none of the homeowners had received their awnings, so they sat down with the CBS4 Problem Solvers team, hoping to get some action.
"I just feel like I got ripped off, and I’m just angry, and I don’t know what to do about it," Robinson said.
CBS4 Problem Solvers found out that Shade by Design was still in business, and the Greenfield neighbors were not the only ones trying to get the company to complete their projects. Between June and November 2019, ten other homeowners filed complaints with the Indiana Attorney General's Office against the company, including a group of five homeowners in the same Columbus neighborhood.
By the end of 2019, all of the complaints had been settled. Several homeowners told CBS4 Problem Solvers that after they filed their complaints, Shade by Design showed up to do the work.
Woods and Robinson decided to file complaints as well.
"It’ll be no use to us now, until the spring, but I guess the bottom line is we’d still like to have (the awning) hung," Woods said.
In January 2020, CBS4 Problem Solvers got Kevin Drake, Shade by Design's owner, on the phone to ask about the Greenfield projects.
Drake said that he still intended to do the work and would be out to the neighborhood in two weeks. After a follow-up, he did show up in mid-January to install awnings at the Woods and Robinson homes.
By then, Jama Spicer's aunt had already filed a dispute with her credit card company and received her down payment back because the company had not completed any work.
Drake provided this written statement about the delays:
"We are a small family business that manufactures all of our products in our facility. It has always been our number one priority to deliver what we feel is the very best products in our industry to our customers. We survive only by the referrals that we get from our customers so our goal is to deliver a quality product in a timely manner to the best of our ability. There will be, from time to time, interruptions in the supply of parts that we use to make our products affecting the completion date. We will not use substitute parts on any of products that are not at the same standards that our regular parts would be. We have been very fortunate to have had great success in recent years and have created a large demand for our products. This is both good and challenging. Trying to grow a business with limited availability of qualified workers is the most challenging thing of all. We have great customers and most of them are very patient and are always excited when we complete there project. We are constantly continuing to train new people to become top notch employees for our company."
CBS4 Problem Solvers met Woods on a cold, late January day on his patio, where he was eager to show off the awning he waited six months to roll out.
"They didn't do any of it until you and CBS4 got involved," Woods said. "We're anxious to see spring now."
In this case, complaints to the Indiana Attorney General's Office appear to have helped homeowners get their projects done. You can find out more about filing a complaint, including a step-by-step guide, at this CBS4 Problem Solvers page.
If you have a problem you'd like the CBS4 Problem Solvers team to consider, get in touch with us at 317-677-1544 or ProblemSolvers@cbs4indy.com.