Company Takes Money, Doesn't Deliver New Roofs
By Jennifer Kraus
A roofing company that went door to door trying to convince homeowners they needed a new roof has now been ordered to stop doing business in Tennessee. The state Contractors Board suspended the license of American Shingle after it failed to do the work customers paid for.
This all comes a week after American Shingle filed for bankruptcy, and it leaves hundreds of homeowners wondering what went wrong.
After the storms back in early May, American Shingle went door to door with flyers in Kay Wallace's neighborhood in Hendersonville.
Wallace recalled, "They said, 'Lots of people in your neighborhood have wind and hail damage. Would you be interested in a new roof?'"
Wallace knew she'd lost a few shingles in the storm. But the American Shingle representative told her she needed her entire roof replaced. And, according to American Shingle, it was a job that couldn't wait.
"They are leading you to believe that if you don't do something pretty quick, you probably are going to have problems because there's more damage than you can see yourself on the ground," Wallace told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
American Shingle also told Wallace that her insurance company would cover most of the cost. All she had to do was file a claim and then sign over her insurance check to them.
The Better Business Bureau's Kathleen Calligan said of American Shingle, "This is such an outrage."
Calligan told NewsChannel 5 Investigates that American Shingle's premise was simple. "All roofs are damaged. So everyone needs a new roof," she explained.
The BBB has gotten nearly 200 complaints in just the last two months from homeowners in Middle Tennessee who signed over their insurance checks to American Shingle, but never got their new roof.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked homeowner Kay Wallace, "So you paid $1,645. What did you get?"
"Nothing," was her answer.
NewsChannel5 Investigates found their South Nashville office not only closed, but cleared out and the phone number disconnected.
So here's what the experts say we can learn from this. First of all, just because you have wind or hail doesn't mean you have damage to your roof, even if someone comes knocking on your door telling you that you do.
Rick McDonald with Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee told NewsChannel 5 Investigates, "I would get a second opinion from another contractor.
McDonald went on to explain that his company has seen an increase in questionable claims recently.
"Where we cannot find any damage to the roof," McDonald explained.
And McDonald said, in some cases where there is damage, roofers are pushing homeowners to replace when a simple repair job is all that's needed.
McDonald recommends carefully checking out any contractor before you hire him and, perhaps, most importantly, don't pay or sign over your insurance check until the work is done.
"Very few of the contracts we deal with on a day-to-day basis ask for any payment up front," he said.
Homeowner Kay Wallace said American Shingle insisted she pay before they started work and that she's learned an expensive lesson. Not only did she not get her new roof, but now that American Shingle has filed bankruptcy, there's little chance she'll get her money back.
Wallace reflected, "I think they should be ashamed for doing people that way. I really do."
American Shingle had offices in more than 20 cities and customers elsewhere had the same problems folks here did.
If you do need a new roof, besides asking family and friends for recommendations, your insurance company can also give you the names of companies they frequently use.
If you are an American Shingle customer who didn't get your new roof, you are urged to file a claim in the company's bankruptcy case. Just download a claim form, then fill it out and mail it to: Clerk of the Court, Northern District of Georgia, 1340 U.S. Courthouse, 75 Spring Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30303