(KTVI) - The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is urging homeowners to be cautious when dealing with Window Pros USA and owner James J. "Jay" Major after the company took money for contracting jobs but never did the work.
"He pulled out every excuse in the book," said a woman from Olivette who paid Major $4,800 in November to replace her windows. She said the company never installed the windows, and she has not received a refund. "I just gave up. I couldn't stand the aggravation anymore."
Several homeowners have filed complaints with the BBB in recent weeks, saying they paid Major and Window Pros between $700 and several thousand dollars each. Some of them said they had used the company in the past and had been pleased with its work.
The BBB has been unable to reach Major by phone or email. Complaints mailed to the company's most recent address in Fenton have been returned as undeliverable, with no forwarding address. Window Pros has an 'F' rating with the BBB, the lowest possible.
Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said Window Pros USA has an obligation to do the work or refund consumers' money. "These people hired this company in good faith," she said. "For Mr. Major to take their money and then abandon them is appalling."
A former business partner, Rick Clausner, told the BBB he believes Major may be in the process of going out of business. "I think he had good intentions," Clausner said, but "why he continued to take money from people, I don't know."
Clausner said he sold his share of Window Pros to Major in 2011.
The website for Window Pros USA, windowpros-stl.com, says, "We are committed to providing you with the best service, quality products and competitive prices in St. Louis on replacement windows, entry doors, remodeling and more."
A homeowner from Chesterfield said she paid Window Pros $4,350 in November 2012. She said window work was due to be completed the first week of January, and another project was scheduled to be completed no later than March 31.
Neither job has been done. "He seemed like a very nice man," she said.
A couple from Weldon Spring, Mo., said they paid Window Pros a $3,300 deposit for the purchase and installation of replacement windows in February. They said they have received nothing. "This is just nuts," said the wife.
A woman from Eureka said she intends to pursue criminal charges in the next few days unless the company refunds her $1,600 down payment. She said the experience has made her "sick to my stomach."
The BBB offers the following tips for consumers who want to hire a contractor:
- Research a company thoroughly. If at all possible, visit its business address. Ask for references and contact them. Ask your county or municipal building officials if they have experience with the company.
- Get a signed contract that details the work to be done, materials to be used, work deadlines and payment due dates. If you have any concerns with the contract, make sure changes are made before you sign it.
- Do not pay the full amount in advance of the work being completed. Withhold a portion of the payment until you are satisfied with the completed job.
- Get more than one bid. If one of the bidders is significantly lower than the others, try to find out why before signing a contract.
- Pay by credit card whenever possible in the event you decide to challenge any charges.
- Check a company's BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.