Several St. Louis-area homeowners say they lost thousands of dollars each to a contracting business that took their money but did little or no work, according to a warning issued in a news release from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Customers told the BBB that Conyers Construction Company and president Larry B. Conyers reneged on promises to build decks, erect retaining walls or make other home improvements, and then disappeared with their money.
Korean War veteran Will Dotson and his wife Barbara from South County said they lost more than $6,000.
“I baked them cookies; we gave them tomatoes,” the veteran’s wife said of company employees. “How can (Conyers) live with himself?”
The construction company has an “F” grade with the BBB, the lowest grade possible.
Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said that many of the victims were senior citizens who entrusted their savings to Conyers.
“For this man to take advantage of people in this way is reprehensible,” she said in the BBB news release. “Time after time, it appears that Mr. Conyers took the money and left his customers high and dry.”
The BBB said Conyers registered Conyers Construction Company with the Missouri Secretary of State in February 2007. At that time, the business used the address of Conyers’ rental home on Valley Dell Drive in Fenton. Conyers moved from that address about three weeks ago and now rents at the Greenmar Apartments complex in Fenton.
He has not responded to BBB letters or other attempts to contact him.
Many of the complaints involve contracts that were signed in the summer or fall of 2011. In most cases, the contracting firm started work but never completed it. In one case, involving two families in a Central West End neighborhood, the company took about $1,800 for a deck improvement project and has never started the work.
A Ballwin homeowner said he contracted for construction of a deck, a gazebo and a retaining wall at his home. The man said he paid Conyers more than $16,000 in advance in September 2011, but the company abandoned the project after doing about $5,000 in work. Numerous phone calls went unreturned, he said.
The Dotsons said that Conyers’ son, Matthew, appeared to be overseeing the construction of their deck. They tried several times to contact both father and son, but their calls were not returned.
“I don’t know what happened,” Will Dotson said.
The BBB offers the following tips for consumers looking to hire contractors for home improvement projects:
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 had experience with the company.
- Get a signed contract that details the work to be done, materials to be used, work deadlines and when payments are due. 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. A good rule of thumb is to pay one-third when the contract is signed, another third when the job is 50 percent complete and the final third when 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 with the business.
- Pay by credit card whenever possible in the event you may want to challenge the charge.
- Check a company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.