Ken Feeser came highly recommended to us by our real estate agent, when we bought our home. We hired him to pour a concrete slab for a hot tub and then to build a deck around the hot tub once it arrived. My husband is soon-to-be 88 years old and we live on his fixed income/pension.
He requested a $1,500 deposit which was a little less than 50% of the total price he quoted us for the job. We foolishly gave him $2,000 (a full 50%) because we wanted to incentivize him to do the job as quickly as possible. We trusted him because our real estate agent, whom we have known for fifteen years, trusted him.
Ken accepted the deposit and then made excuse after excuse about why he couldn't show up to do the work: The front end fell out of his car while he was driving down the freeway so it was in the shop; he needed new brakes while his car was in the shop; his daughter got hit in the head with a light pole and he was in the ER with her, etc. [continued below]....
..... etc. Beautiful, sunny days went by and no Mr. Feeser. We were heading into the rainy season and there were sure to be problems with the weather and further delays.
He accepted the deposit on October 13th, 2012. It is now December 25th and he still has not given us ANY money back. We gave him PLENTY of opportunities to come back, finish the work, SOMETHING. When we last spoke on Friday, November 30th--after telling him four days before that we wanted our money back by Friday at 5:00 or we were going to take legal action--he said, "I did some bad things," (which we took to mean he spent our deposit because he wasn't able to return it.) During all of this, he told us that he was "having trouble with the IRS" and that's why he had us make the check out to Alex Feeser.
We filed a complaint with the CA State Licensing Board in Sacramento. Please keep in mind we waited TWO-AND-A-HALF MONTHS before taking such drastic action and gave him many opportunities to resolve this issue. Ruby Taylor, the investigator assigned to our case, did some research on Mr. Feeser and called us back to say she discovered that he was "denied bond" in 2006 and his license was not renewed at that time. She said she can't be sure but usually when a contractor is licensed and they are denied bond it's because a consumer has taken action against them for either not completing work they were paid for or completing the work unsatisfactorily. Again, we (foolishly, we realize in hindsight) never checked his licensing status because he came recommended by our real estate agent.
We also were advised to file a police report with the Lafayette PD, which we did. The investigating officer called us back to say that he had spoken to Mr. Feeser and advised him to resolve this matter BEFORE he issues the report in 2-3 weeks. Yes, Mr. Feeser had ANOTHER opportunity and substantial window of time to resolve this but we never heard from him. Once the police report is filed with the county, it immediately goes to the District Attorney in Contra Costa County and automatically becomes a financial elder abuse case because the plaintiff is over 65 years of age.
The licensing board investigator said to be sure and tell the judge in Small Claims Court (we have filed and have a date set for March, 2013) that she said that Mr. Feeser KNEW what he was doing was illegal when he requested and accepted the large deposit because he was once licensed. The investigator also informed us that this is considered a fraud case and it's a felony.