EASTON, Pa. – Since the owner of Hydro Dynamic Pools was arrested Tuesday morning, the Northampton County District Attorney has received at least a dozen calls from people who say they too are victims. Roger Kornfeind of Bethlehem is facing 75 charges for reportedly scamming customers out of thousands of dollars.
Experts are now warning that if you want work done to your home, you need to put in work yourself.
“If you were going to buy something on Amazon, you would look to see what the reviews were, and this is no different,” said Patrick Best, an attorney at ARM Lawyers. “You want to make sure people had a good experience.”
“You can also do just a search online for the contractors name and the word ‘scam,’ the word ‘fraud,’ just trying to figure out what people are saying online,” said Kelsey Coleman, the director of communications and public affairs at the Better Business Bureau, serving Metro Washington D.C. and Eastern Pennsylvania.
“They have to register with the state, and there’s a website, HIC search, where you can go in and you can look up the name of the contractor and see if they’re actually registered,” said Nicholas Sandercock, an associate attorney at Gross McGinley, LLP.
Ask for references and proof of insurance.
“You want to also get three quotes,” said Coleman. “Don’t go with that first person you just talked with. The lowest bid is probably not your best bid, in some cases.”
A detailed written contract is vital.
“Anticipated start date, anticipated end date, detailed scope of the work that’s going to be done including the materials,” said Sandercock.
Attorneys say there also should be a final cost, and outs in case the work isn’t completed by a certain date, which has been more of an issue recently.
“The easiest way to make sure you’re covered by a pandemic is to simply put in the ‘force majeure,’ that includes not just an act of God, but specific instances, whether the pandemic itself, supply chain issues, things out of the control of either party,” said Sandercock.
Experts say the good news is Pennsylvania’s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Law is designed to protect you.
“It actually requires that on jobs over $5,000, that the deposit is limited to one third of the purchase price,” said Best.
“Don’t pay everything upfront,” said Coleman. “We don’t want anyone to pay with cash.”
So don’t pay more too soon for a good deal.
If you feel trapped but also can’t dish out extra money to lawyers, that law also covers attorneys’ fees.
“The concept would be that you shouldn’t be out of pocket on the attorney just because your contractor broke the law,” said Best.
The Better Business Bureau says Hydro Dynamic Pools had 25 recent complaints leading up to Kornfeind’s arrest.