SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) --An elderly couple in San Jose just wanted to fix a crack in their kitchen, but they wound up signing a contract for a costly remodeling project. So they called 7 On Your Side for help.
It may have happened to you; a contractor comes in to fix one problem and then finds another and another. This couple agreed to have a lot of work done, then found out most of it was not necessary at all.
It all started with a single crack in their granite countertop. The crack was about a foot and a half long.
Marvin and Dolores Gatherwright of San Jose simply wanted to get it repaired. Instead, it led them into serious trouble.
Marvin said, "I'm just amazed at how quickly this turned into a terrible problem. I mean, so quickly."
It happened when the couple went to Home Depot to see if it could repair the crack. A technician came to the house to inspect the damage.
Marvin said, "The representative from Home Depot told us that the repair could not be done, that we would have to get a whole new countertop."
Dolores said, "They said when granite gets cracked like, that you can't do anything about it you have to replace it."
And once they replaced this granite, they would have to replace all the rest of the counters to match it. And ripping out granite would damage the wall tiles, so they'd have to be replaced too. The sales person told them they may as well get their old cabinets resurfaced at the same time.
They went along with what he suggested. The salesman totaled up the price and it was $27,000. He handed them a contract.
Marvin said, "We were told to initial here and initial there, but it wasn't very clear what we were initializing."
Marvin didn't realize he was locked in a contract when he called a granite company the next day. And to his surprise, the company said it could indeed repair granite. It took workers one day to patch it up and it only cost $1,000.
The couple contacted Home Depot saying they didn't need to rip out all that granite after all. The salesman said, too late they had signed a contract.
Marvin says he did not realize he had only three days to cancel the contract. Besides, Home Depot led them to believe they had to replace all that granite when they didn't.
Marvin said, "It wasn't like what he said. He said it could not be repaired."
Marvin said he'd still re-do the cabinets, but not the granite. Home Depot said he'd have to pay a $9,600 cancellation fee.
Marvin said, "And that if we didn't go with the contract, he was going to dump all the material in the front yard. And I was very, very upset about this."
Home Depot did not dump the materials, but it did charge that $9,600 fee. Finally the couple contacted 7 On Your Side and we contacted Home Depot. After looking into the case it said: "While we can't confirm all of the details in this case, this is not how we conduct business and we never want a customer to be misled, or even confused, by our contracts. We're terribly sorry for the ordeal the Gatherwrights experienced, and we've refunded their entire purchase."
Dolores said, "I was relieved, very relieved."
I can't emphasize enough how important it is to never sign a contract until after you have reviewed it carefully. By law, you have three days to cancel a construction contract, but you may need more time to think about it, and explore other options, so don't sign anything until you do.