JACKSONVILLE, Fla,. -- Mitchell and Judy Williams are retired, living on a fixed income. For a while, they were thinking about paving their driveway. On Monday, a stranger knocked on their front door.
He claimed he was doing someone else's driveway in their West Jacksonville neighborhood and had some left over asphalt.
"I asked him how much and he said it would be $1.50 a square foot," said Judy Williams.
They agreed on a price of $1,500. He began the work and so began the Williams' worries.
"We never got an estimate, we don't have a bill of sale, nothing," said Williams.
After unloading one truck of asphalt, the company, identified as Saul Harrison Paving, began unloading another truck.
It gave the Williamses cause for concern.
"I kept saying 'how much is this going to cost me?'" said Mitchell Williams, "He said 'don't worry about it, I am going to treat you right.'"
When he was finished, the price of the new driveway went from $1,500 to $10,500.
"We about fell through the floor," said Mrs. Williams.
They began haggling with the company because the price was far more than they expected. The price was reduced to $8,500.
The Williams paid $1,500 with a credit card, and the remaining balance with a check.
A stop payment has since been placed on the check.
After checking, they discovered the credit card charges were processed in Bensalem, Pa. They have filed a complaint with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and with the Better Business Bureau.
Their new driveway is already coming apart.
"When you're moving around on it, it is giving," said Mitchell Williams, "It is going to come apart."
This driveway improvement scheme is very common, but there are ways to protect yourself.
-Never let a contractor pressure you into making a decision
-Ask for references and check them out
-Get a written contract that includes a start and completion date as well as the cost
-Never make the final payment until the job is done and you have a waiver of lien