Bamboozled: Contracting job left undone

Marlene Todd of West Caldwell loves her new kitchen.BB branding

She loves it so much she decided to call back the contractor, Mota Construction of Montclair, to do some more work for her. This time, new windows.

Humberto Mota came over for an estimate last summer, Todd said.

“He said it would take a couple of weeks for the windows to come in,” she said, and she handed him a check for $3,000.

That was Aug. 5, 2009.

The weeks passed and Todd said she hadn’t heard anything, so she called Mota. She said he put off the installation for a few weeks. And a few more weeks. And a few more weeks.

The weather got cooler and Todd, not looking forward to letting in the freezing air during the installation, called and told Mota she’d rather delay the installation to the spring.

8910The spring came, but this time, Todd said Mota stopped returning her calls. Finally, one day he answered the phone.

“I did talk to him one time and I said, ‘Let’s forget it. Just send back the $3,000,’ ” she said, but the money never came. “My son even talked to him several times and said, ‘You at least owe my mom a call.’ ”

But no calls.

That’s when she contacted Bamboozled.

We called Mota and left a voice mail, explaining that we were calling on Todd’s behalf and she wanted her money back.

That’s when, at last, Todd’s phone rang.

“He said a certified check will be in the mail on Friday and he hung up,” Todd said.

Nothing came in the mail, but several days later, Todd opened her front door to find an envelope. Inside was a certified check for $3,000.

“I feel great,” Todd said. “I wrote the check on Aug. 5, 2009, and here it is, this check coming in on Aug. 5, 2010. Unbelievable.”

Next, Bamboozled’s phone rang. It was Mota, saying he felt bad for what had happened and he never wanted to keep Todd’s money.

He said he ordered the windows when he first received Todd’s check. When the windows came in, he didn’t have enough money to pay the balance, he said, so he told the company to sell them to someone else.

“I ordered the windows a couple of times and didn’t have the time to put them in,” he said of the other delays. “(The manufacturer) wanted them out of their place so I told them to sell them. I didn’t want to have responsibility for them breaking.”

Thanks to Mota for doing the right thing and returning the money to Todd.

Now, with check in hand, Todd said she is thinking about new windows again. But when she looks at her calendar, she sees cold weather ahead.

“In the spring, I’ll get someone to do it,” she said.


In the spring, Bamboozled shared the story of Patrick and Vanessa Ryan and their Toyota Corolla.

The car was rear-ended in February, and a post-repair inspection found the auto shop — Mirror Image Auto Body of Rockaway — used some non-Toyota parts and did not fix some of the damage.

For four months, the Ryans argued with their insurance company, New Jersey Manufacturers, and with the shop, saying the repair job was incomplete and unsatisfactory.

After our report, NJM took action. The Ryans said that within days they received a reimbursement check for the $453.89 independent inspection they had paid for, a $500 refund for their deductible and NJM sent a member of its special investigations unit to take another look at the car.

The repair estimate was $10,380.84.

“This estimate was just to correct the work that Mirror Image Auto Body had done with respect to repairing the rear-end damage from the accident,” said Vanessa Ryan. “We were told that in addition to the after-market parts and previously discovered issues, other issues and defects were concealed and now discovered.”

Given the extent of the damage and the cost to repair it, NJM decided to total the car.

“(The investigator) commented that in his many years in the insurance industry, he has never seen a case where the auto body shop’s repairs cost more to fix than the initial accident,” Vanessa Ryan said.

A spokesman for Mirror Image Auto Body declined comment last week.

The Ryans applied their settlement money to a 2010 Corolla. And once again, after more than a few bumps, they’re happy with their insurance company.

“During the post-Karin Price Mueller phase of our story, NJM provided outstanding customer service and clear communication,” Vanessa Ryan said.

Thanks to NJM for taking care of your customers.


We’ve reported several times the Caller ID aggravation experienced by some Verizon customers.

Instead of their own names showing when they call non-Verizon customers, other names have appeared. These customers have repeatedly called Verizon, and reps have said that nothing could be done because the Caller IDs are correct in the Verizon database.

That’s because if a Verizon customer calls a non-Verizon customer, a different Caller
ID database may be used. If the Caller ID is wrong in the non-Verizon database, the Verizon customer service reps won’t see it, and therefore can’t fix it.

Bamboozled was contacted by six more customers — including one in West Palm Beach, Fla. — who said they had Caller ID problems.

We passed the information to Verizon, and it’s working on the fixes by contacting the other carriers whose databases may be wrong.

Thanks again, Verizon.