7 On Your Side: Asphalt driveway warning

Published: Feb. 11, 2013 at 11:14 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 13, 2013 at 10:15 PM CDT
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It's that time of year when itinerant vendors tend to be out looking for someone to buy home repairs they're selling. There's a family in Vincent Settlement whose members wish their elderly parent had said no from the start.

The 82-year-old man was caught off guard and was offered what he thought would be a good deal to get asphalt on his driveway. Midway through the job, he learned it was going to cost way more than he expected. The homeowner here wasn't shopping for driveway improvements, but when a vendor showed up out-of-the-blue and offered what he thought was a good price, he took the bait. His son, Henry Duhon, said no clear estimate was provided up front.

"They had excess asphalt from another job in the area. They were using that as the hook to get the job done," said Duhon.

When the people who put the asphalt down demanded payment,  they wanted more than $8,000 -- way more than the elder Duhon ever expected to pay. As well, Duhon's son said his dad did sign some paperwork but did not get a copy. Duhon said workers showed the paper when demanding payment.

"I think it had been altered. The prices and the square footage had been scratched through," said Duhon.

Carmen Million with the SWLA Better Business Bureau issued a warning about door-to-door vendors selling asphalt. She points out door-to-door selling in Calcasieu Parish is illegal.

"Whether it's the sale of magazines, whether it's working on your driveway, whether it's replacing a roof -- what have you. There is a city and a parish ordinance that prohibits it.  They're being told that they have to pay the bill no matter what because the job was completed and if they misunderstood it then, that was their fault. And consumers, you have to realize that these people are targeting consumers that are at home and in most cases those consumers are senior citizens.  So, it doesn't take much for a senior citizen to feel intimidated," said Million.

In the Duhon case, family members stopped the job midway and  refused to pay.

Said Duhon, " I think it was an illegal operation, so we prefer to go to court and let the court decide."

Million recommends calling law enforcement if someone shows up at your door trying to sell something.

To listen to more of our interview with Carmen Million, click on our web extra.

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