St. Louis, Mo., June 24, 2014 – Home Help, a Des Peres, Mo.-based contracting business run by James R. Oates, is facing complaints from consumers who say that Oates took thousands of dollars for construction projects, but never completed the work, Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns.
In one case, a University City couple recently reported to BBB that they paid Oates $5,000 more than a year ago to buy building materials to add a sunroom to their home, but Oates never started the project.
“I don’t ever expect to see one penny again,” the wife said.
Home Help has an “F” rating with BBB, the lowest possible. Oates is not answering the complaints and has not responded to several requests for information from BBB.
Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said Oates has a responsibility to refund consumers’ money. “For Mr. Oates to take advantage of people like this is contemptible,” she said. “He made promises he did not keep and now he needs to make things right.”
Oates operates the business out of his Des Peres home in the 1400 block of Ridgefield Drive. BBB has attempted to contact Oates by phone and at his home, without success.
The University City woman said employees at a St. Louis area retailer recommended Oates and Home Help. She said she and her husband agreed to pay him $27,000 to build a sunroom for their home. He asked for $5,000 in March 2013 to buy building materials for the project, but never returned to the house.
The woman said that she last spoke to him in August 2013, and he agreed to start work the next day. She said he never came.
“If I can do anything, I would love to stop him from doing this to somebody who is less fortunate,” she said.
A homeowner from O’Fallon, Mo., said he hired Oates in August 2013 to renovate the lower level of his home. The man said he has paid Oates $28,000 of the total $35,000 contract price for the job, but Oates completed only a portion of the project before abandoning it. The homeowner said he has had to hire another contractor to complete the work, including redoing much of the work Oates already had done.
Two other consumers have received default judgments from judges in St. Louis County after suing Oates in connection with his contracting work.
In one of the cases, a judge awarded $5,000 to a contractor who said he paid Oates to buy drywall, siding and kitchen cabinets. He said Oates never delivered the items.
In the other case, a judge awarded more than $7,300 to a woman who said Oates caused extensive damage to her home by breaking a water line during a contracting job.
It appears that neither claim has been paid. Court records show that Oates did not appear for either case.
BBB offers the following tips when considering hiring a home repair contractor:
BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. All BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews on more than 4 million businesses, 11,000 Charity Reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information.