ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- Sandra Lott had to pay a second company to remodel her kitchen because the first company took her money and did nothing and she doesn't know where the company is located.
"They go back from Miami to South Carolina to Jacksonville," said Lott.
In 2009, the Army Reserves nurse used money earned while serving in Iraq to pay a company called Extreme Kitchen Exclusive for a makeover.
"A family member recommended them," said Lott.
She paid them $8,609 up front, but it did nothing. She went to her credit card and recovered $5,000 for the cabinets. Lott said the company still owes her $3,609, which was paid by check, for granite countertops that were never delivered.
"We just want a refund," said Lott, "because nothing has ever been done."
Calls to the company's Miami and South Carolina locations were unnecessary. The president of Extreme Kitchen Exclusive is Scott Schneidermesser.
Public records show he has been president of a number of kitchen remodeling companies since 2006, all out of business.
Tom Stephens, president of the Better Business Bureau, says Schneidermesser's company is not a member and it had one complaint with his South Florida counterpart.
"They did resolve the complaint, It was a serious complaint," said Stephens, "no way for me to tell what it was, but it could mean taking money and not doing the work, something like that."
After signing the contract, Lott discovered Schneidermesser has had his share of legal troubles, from a felony arrest to foreclosure lawsuit to a lien of claim.
She said if she had checked out the company beforehand, she never would have given them a dime.
There are ways to check on a company or contractor from your computer. If you don't have a computer, go to the library.
1) Go www.bbb.org where you can tell if the company is a member and its history.
2) Go www.myflorida.com there you can check to see if the company has a state license or requires a state license.
3) Go to www.Sunbiz.org there you can tell if the company is registered with the state.
Lott said she now plans to file a small claims lawsuit against Schneidermesser to recover her $3,609.
"We just have not been able to locate them," she said, "and I don't think it is right for them to take the money and nothing has been done."
The National Association of Home Builders reports Americans spent $200 Billion on home repairs in 2005.
It is big business and gives reason for everyone to do their homework before hiring a contractor.
First Coast News