‘Reliable’ repair man proves unreliable
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Reliable Appliance Repair Crew, Lorenzo Banks leave customers frustrated with wrong company
AUSTIN, Texas -- Dyan Blomberg was juggling the time and expense of a new baby when her washing machine stopped working. It was a quality machine, and she was not prepared to simply throw it out and buy a new one. She also could not wait weeks for a repair.
She saw an ad on Craigslist for Reliable Appliance Repair Crew, and did some quick research online.
“The website looked really comprehensive and like they knew what they were doing,” she said. She even scanned several reviews for the company, which seemed positive.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t notice those negative reviews until I tried to post my own,” she said.
Reliable Appliance Repair Crew owner Lorenzo Banks came to her house for a service call and told her the washing machine’s motor was burned out. Blomberg paid $45 for the initial service call -- $10 more than she had been quoted on the phone -- and Banks said he would be out the next day to fix it. He did not keep that promise, and over the next few days, Blomberg tried multiple times to contact him.
“As soon as the person on the line found out it was me calling, he or she would hang up or pretend the call would disconnect,” she said. “We actually went and just bought a new washer.”
Tonya Preece said she had a similar experience after Banks repaired her refrigerator. After Banks charged her $280 to replace a part, the refrigerator still leaked water. When she tried to contact Banks to come out again, he ignored and hung up on her.
“When I first called him to tell him the problem was happening again, he said he could be there the next day,” she said. “When he didn’t show up for maybe two or three days after that, he didn’t answer (my calls).”
Preece and Blomberg turned to Better Business Bureau for assistance, and the matter got even more complicated.
They and many other consumers filed their complaints against Reliable Appliance Repair -- the name registered by Don Carpenter with the Travis County Clerk’s office -- not Reliable Appliance Repair Crew. Most alleged poor work and difficulty contacting Banks for further repairs.
Banks had registered the name Shocker Appliance with the Travis County Clerk. BBB records show Shocker Appliance had 12 complaints filed against it; 10 of those were not answered.
According to consumer complaints, Banks started doing business as Reliable Appliance Repair Crew last year without properly registering the new name. The website lists no address or ownership information. As a result, Reliable Appliance Repair started receiving complaints intended for Banks.
Carpenter suddenly saw his company’s name slammed by people all over the Internet. He said he had never heard of Banks or his company.
“It’s just me, I have no employees,” he said. “(Banks is) going into people’s homes, (he’s) taking their money and (he’s) walking away. I don’t do that.”
At first, Carpenter thought the mail from BBB was just a mistake, until BBB reached him by phone to discuss the complaints.
“I’ve been so upset, I’ve had to not think about it because I just don’t know what to do,” he said. “This has been something that I have lost sleep over.”
He tried to send Banks a letter asking him to stop using the Reliable Appliance Repair name and clarified the ownership and contact information for his company with BBB.
Neither BBB nor Carpenter have received an answer from Banks since, and Banks is still running the Reliable Appliance Repair Crew website. BBB files currently show a total of 21 complaints against Banks’ company. Renewed attempts to forward the unanswered complaints to Banks got no reply.
As for Banks’ unhappy customers, Blomberg said the experience has taught her to better research a company before doing business.
“He’s done this to at least 30 other people, ... since I left my review,” she said, referring to a website that allows people to post reviews of companies. “I should have done my homework in the first place and looked on the Better Business Bureau website.”
BBB recommends consumers consider the following tips when preparing to hire an appliance repair company:
· Research trustworthy businesses. BBB’s Member Pages currently list more than 70 BBB Accredited small and major appliance service and repair businesses. Consumers can narrow their search to find businesses close to their home and contact them for online estimates using BBB’s free Request a Quote service.
· Watch for upfront fees. While a repair service may require a down payment or upfront service call fees, avoid paying for the entire job up front. Pay with a credit card whenever possible and make sure to get a receipt.
· Pay the company, not the individual. Servicemen who ask that checks be written payable to their own name -- and not the company’s name -- may disappear with your money.
· Get details in writing. Ask for a detailed contract explaining the work to be done, parts ordered and replaced, the cost of all repairs and any warranties or guarantees associated with the job.
· Confirm the guarantee. Verify the terms of a work guarantee, such as what is covered, what the procedure is for submitting guarantee claims and the timeframe that the guarantee lasts.
To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.
About Better Business Bureau:
BBB's mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. BBB accomplishes this mission by creating a community of trustworthy businesses, setting standards for marketplace trust, encouraging and supporting best practices, celebrating marketplace role models and denouncing substandard marketplace behavior.
Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization's high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB is the preeminent resource to turn to for objective, unbiased information on businesses and charities.
Contact BBB serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin at (512) 445-4748.
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