Days for Knight: Consumer scolds busy contractor

One of the most frustrating situations a consumer faces is the self-employed businessperson who agrees to do a job, collects some or all of the payment, then either doesn't do the work or does it poorly.

Sometimes they answer calls and promise to follow through, and sometimes they don't; sometimes the phone has been disconnected. They can be tough to sue, because you can't sue someone who doesn't have an address, and therefore can't be served with a summons.

Floyd Artrips now knows this scenario chapter and verse. He and his wife built a home on Stable Lane, in Inglecress, in 1999. Artisan Construction, the general contractor, subcontracted the gutters to Knight Glass of Crozet.

"Last winter," Artrips wrote in an email to me, "we had gutter damage at one location from the ice, plus we had a number of connections that had developed leaks since the original installation. Although the gutters are seamless," he explained, "there are connections at the angles and downspouts."

Artrips claims that he called Knight Glass owner John Knight last March to get him to repair the ice damage. Although Knight was "very difficult" to get on the phone, Artrips says that when they did connect, Knight "promised to come out and do the repairs. He said there would be no charge for resealing the joints, and the ice-damage repair would be only $3 per foot (less than 20 feet of gutter was damaged)."

But Knight, by his own admission, never showed. "I have called him weekly since then to get him to come out," Artrips wrote. "When I am able to talk to him, he always promises to come and apologizes for not being there last time, but he never shows up." Most recently, Knight promised to do the work on Saturday, August 30, but, as he freely admits, he didn't appear.

I drove out to Stable Lane and took a look at Artrips' gutters, especially the part that had been damaged by ice. A flower bed that's otherwise dense with impatiens is bare under that section, and the surrounding patio bricks are thick with moss– both signs of excessive moisture.

I spoke with Knight and asked him why, six months after Artrips' first call, he had yet to do the work he'd promised. "It's a small job," he replied. He said that he would "probably get there" by the end of last week.

Artrips also contacted Doug Lowe, president of Artisan Construction, to see if the general contract might have more "leverage" with Knight. But, as Lowe told me, he hadn't used Knight as a subcontractor– or spoken to him– in "a couple of years." I asked why, and he said, "At various times, it's hard to get hold of him," but added that he had "no real beef" with Knight.

Lowe was chagrined to hear that Artrips hadn't had any luck getting Knight to repair the damaged section and seal the alleged leaks, and asked what he could do to help. All I could suggest was that he talk to Artrips and Knight and see if he could help them reach a resolution, and he agreed to try.

It appears that he didn't have any more success than Artrips: Unless Knight showed up after Artrips and his family left town at noon on Saturday, the repairs are still waiting (and the rain is still falling).


Pace's files bankruptcy

This summer I reported on Mary Walter's experience with Pace's Transfer ["Snail's Pace," July 10], which, on June 2, moved the contents of her Morris Road house to Northern Virginia. On the Charlottesville end of the move, she claims, Pace's gouged her woodwork in two places and nicked a new paint job in two others.

Pace's finally agreed to do the repairs, but after the column ran, the agreement was changed: Davis Management, which manages the property, would have the repairs done and submit the bill to Pace's. In the meantime, however, Pace's filed for bankruptcy. Bob Davis stated that he intends to pay the bill himself– and is just relieved that it's for only $45.

Do you have a consumer problem or question? Email the Fearless Consumer, write her at 100 Second Street NW, 22902, or call 295-8700 ext. 406.