SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With summer coming, many of us are tackling big home improvement projects and among the many questions: who's your contractor? How much to pay?
Calvin Chow of San Francisco decided to hire a well-known company, Home Depot, and paid in full for new gutters on his house. He put the full $4,008 charge on his credit card and was told the job would be done in three weeks.
"They did come out, gave an estimate, said how long it would take,'' Chow recalls. "He said he does these San Francisco houses all the time. He'd have it done in three weeks. Wow. I was impressed."
However, more than three months later, Chow still didn't have his gutters. He says the company kept citing reasons -- it needed permits, was waiting to order the gutters, and then couldn't do the work because of rain.
"I said you told me three weeks to install, not three weeks to order,'' Chow said. "Then it was one thing after another. I was hours on the phone."
Finally after all that waiting and all those hurdles, Home Depot told him it couldn't do the job at all.
"I said, "Huh? We have a signed contract." Chow said. And he'd paid in full.
Home Depot did not give an explanation but promised his money back in three or four days, Chow said. However, weeks later, he still had no refund an not gutters.
He contacted ABC7 and the 7 On Your Side team contacted Home Depot. First we asked why it accepted full payment on a home improvement project. By law, most contractors can only charge 10 percent up front or $1,000 down, whichever is less. However, Home Depot is among about a dozen big contractors that is exempt from that law because it carries a special performance bond that insures its projects.
Home Depot adds that it had already begun processing Chow's refund even before he came to ABC7, and Chow did get his money back.
So, why did it abandon the project?
Home Depot said it couldn't do the work because the gutters on Chow home were embedded in the roof. Installing new gutters would require removing and replacing parts of the roof, which was not included in his contract.
Home Depot admitted that extra work should have been anticipated, telling ABC7:
"We never want a customer to be dissatisfied, so we apologize to Mr. Chow for the inconvenience and we're glad we could get this resolved."
Chow was just happy Michael Finney and Channel 7 helped get his $4,000 back.
"Oh, thank you Michael. Keep up the good work."
Note: Most contractors are only allowed by law to charge 10 percent down or $1,000 up front on projects worth more than $500. Unless they are among the few with a performance bond, you should never pay more than that.
Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
Written and produced by Renee Koury