A Stones Throw 10-10-13

40

I was scammed.

I hate to admit my vulnerability – or was it stupidity. Either way the result is the same.

I was scammed.

And, I paid a lot of money – with a smile – to be scammed.

While I have been fighting a silent battle with the scammers, I decided to admit to my stupidity after reading the following warning from Switzerland County Sheriff Roy Leap:

“Just got word from the Sheriff in Shelby County, Indiana that the blacktop pavers are back in their county. Please keep in mind that several paving companies are legit, but every year we have paving companies from different states come into our community and scam people out of their hard-earned money for substandard work. Most of these scammers offer great deal to pave a homeowner’s driveway, road, etc… When the work is finished, the price dramatically increases. They typically make these deals with older homeowners who may feel obligated to pay the increased fees.

“The vehicles that have been spotted in Shelby County have license plates from Texas, Montana and Ohio, but could also be from other states. Please spread the word and call the Sheriff’s Office to report any suspicious paving companies in our county. If you can get plate numbers and vehicle descriptions, please report it to us. We have had no reports of these paving companies being in our area as of this post but I am sure they will work their way here sooner or later.

“If anyone has information of any kind that would be valuable to the Sheriff’s Office, please feel free to contact me at 812-427-3636. – Sheriff Leap”

I called Sheriff Leap. But first, my story.

Last summer Highway 156 was resurfaced with a chip and seal process. At the time the project was in the Patriot area I received a call from a friend who knew I had asked several area paving companies for a quote to do my driveway. My friend had talked with Lendoll Dodd from LND Asphalt about doing a chip and seal process on his driveway.

My friend had checked LND asphalt out and found them to be credible and legitimate. He also checked out their equipment and found it to be sufficient to do major jobs.

While LND did not say they were involved with the Highway 156 project, the insinuation was there. Since I wanted my driveway done, I asked Mr. Dodd to give me a quote.

I also decided to do my own due diligence. When talking with Dodd, I was told that while LND was located in Lafayette, Indiana, their home office was in Louisiana. As a result, I wasn’t surprised when I searched for LND Asphalt and found addresses in both Louisiana and Texas.

I then went to the Better Business Bureaus in Louisiana, Texas, and Indiana, I did not find a rating for LND Asphalt in Indiana, but both the Texas and the Louisiana Better Business Bureaus rated LND Asphalt at A+.

So – with a quote that while close to that of area asphalt companies was still a savings of about $1,500, I agreed to have LND chip and seal my driveway.

I was somewhat impressed as they did the job. First they prepared the driveway by smoothing out what I already had. Then they laid the seal and then the chip. After that they rolled the driveway – several times.

They had a full crew. And, a full complement of equipment. They spent several hours laying the seal and chip and rolling it.

The driveway looked good and I had a full one-year warranty in case there were any problems.

I felt good.

That is until the job was done.

At that point Mr. Dodd asked for payment and said the check had to be made out to him – not LND Asphalt.

Whatever, I was dumb enough to write the check the way he wanted it. Thirty minutes later I received a call from my bank asking if they should honor the check. I said yes.

I was happy with my chip and seal driveway for several months. Then, after a couple of big rains I started seeing ruts developing. Since I had talked to Dodd about this problem before I agreed to him doing the chip and seal and was assured this could not happen after the chip and seal was completed, I decided to call him and ask him to look at the problem.

This was last December.

I talked with Mr. Dodd and was told that LND was shut down for the winter but that he would call me in the spring and make arrangements to look at the problem.

When spring rolled around I again talked to Mr. Dodd and was told he would come and “sweep” the drive and look at the rut problem.

The ruts in my driveway got bigger and deeper.

No one showed up to look at or fix the problem. (That is no one from LND Asphalt – my neighbor who shares the driveway and shared the cost of the chip and seal has been working on repairing the ruts and correcting the drainage problem. My hat goes off to him.)

Not only did no one from LND show up to work on the problem, but I called several times over the summer. Each time a different person answered. Each time I was told Mr. Dodd was not available but would call me right back.

He never did.

The one year warranty period passed.

I have reported LND Asphalt to the Indiana Attorney General. While preparing my report I found that LND is very skilled in their ability to scam in today’s Internet world.

What I have found today is:

• The Lafayette address was actually a mailbox drop.

• The Louisiana Better Business Bureau has changed the LND Asphalt rating from A+ to F due to unresolved customer complaints.

• The Texas Better Business Bureau has changed the LND Asphalt rating from A+ to F due to unresolved customer complaints.

• The Toledo, Ohio Better Business Bureau now rates LND Asphalt an A+ (That is right – LND and Mr. Dodd have now moved to Perrysburg, Ohio.) The A+ rating is based on LND’s agreement to promptly resolve all customer complaints.

In other words, LND Asphalt works a state for a year and then moves to another state before customer complaints are recognized by the Better Business Bureau.

I have learned my lesson – I hope. I do know I will never use the Better Business Bureau to determine the validity of a company. In this case, while the Better Business Bureau was not a part of the scam, it was certainly complicit – without knowing it.

Back to Sheriff Leap.

When he indicated the asphalt scammer vehicles in Shelby County carried license plates from Texas, Ohio, and Montana, I immediately thought of LND. Sheriff Leap told me he had not heard the LND Asphalt name associated with Shelby County. The names he has from there are Riley’s Asphalt Paving for one and William Wells for another.

Sheriff Leap also told me he gets several calls a week from Switzerland County residents who have been scammed or have been offered work that appears to be a scam. He indicates that scammers are getting smarter in their approach and in their background references.

But, he says many, if not most, of the scams that face people today are the same scams that faced people 20 or 30 years ago.

Unfortunately, if there is work to be done on a home or a property there is someone who is willing to scam gullible people of this county and of every other county.

More unfortunately, I am one of those gullible people. I hope telling my experience will help others avoid the scam of the day.

– Mike Cooney