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Contractor name changing could lead to customer complaints disappearing online

Do your homework—it's what every homeowner is told before hiring a contractor. An On Your Side investigation digs into why researching the company name isn't enough.

When facing a hurricane, even the steadiest of homeowners can get distracted. Dealing with a damaged roof often requires fast action but consumer advocates say quick research may overlook a company's full story.

Shannon Nelson with the Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida has been tracking a surge in complaints for roofing companies on the First Coast. Nelson said there's 54 percent more complaints in 2018 than in 2017. Her research also found a new trend, old roofing companies with checkered pasts reinventing themselves into new companies.

There are no restrictions on officers of one company creating a new company with a pristine record, leaving the company with a past full of complaints behind.

Two First Coast residents, Wayne Bennett and Wanda DeSue call the disappearing details, deceptive.

"You're not thinking when you're trying to get the work done," Bennett said.

Bennett contracted with Rogero & Williams Roofing LLC in September 2017 after Hurricane Irma. He provided First Coast News with a copy of the contract for roof repairs and claims he didn't hear from the company after he signed with a salesman for nearly four months.

His sister, DeSue, signed a similar contract with the same company for her own roof damage. She said the company held up her insurance claim for eight months, detailed in a complaint she filed with the Attorney General’s office. She said she paid around $16,000 out of pocket to another company to do immediate repairs while haggling with Rogero & Williams to cancel the hold on her insurance funds.

She worries her complaint and others like it won't be found by future customers.

In the two years after Bennett and DeSue signed contracts, the roofing company changed its name several times.

According to state corporation records, in March 2018, Rogero & Williams became R&W Roofing. One month later, it changed its name again to Elo Restoration run by three of the four original executives.

The fourth executive created three other roofing companies on the First Coast, according to state business filings.

SUNBIZ: Official Florida Division of Corporation website

A spokesperson for Elo declined to do an interview but said in an email the company has gotten a better call tracking system and has resolved all the past complaints including DeSue and Bennett's and those filed with the BBB. Elo has an A+ rating on the consumer website and four stars on Google reviews. In August, the original company had 16 positive Google reviews and 19 negative. All of those Google reviews no longer exist online.

While a name change does not mean a company has something to hide, Nelson says consumers deserve to know the previous work history of companies. In the left column of a BBB profile, potential customers can find business details to show a company's ownership and past.