Bamboozled: Could luck be swinging her way on broken gate?

??????????????????When a contractor makes a promise, consumers should be able to trust the contractor’s word.

Sometimes, it doesn’t work that way.

It’s been a big problem for Linda Orak, who hired Greenview Landscaping to add a new gate to the side of her house.

Greenview’s owner, Daniel Noonan III, gave Orak a written estimate for $500 on Aug. 27, 2014. The cost included $350 for the gate and $150 for a self-closing/locking latch.

The gate was installed the same day, and the lock was installed the day after.

All seemed well, but as time passed, Orak noticed the gate wasn’t closing correctly. It slowly got worse, she said.

“It wasn’t aligned correctly,” Orak said. “You could see the rubbing on the post.”

About five months after the install — Orak said she didn’t write down the exact date — the lock broke. That was sometime in late January or early February.

“That’s when everything went sour,” Orak said.

Orak said she started a weekly calling regimen that lasted for five months.

She said she left messages every week, but there were some weeks when the voice mail was full so she couldn’t leave a message.

No one ever returned her calls.

“I had to use a bungee cord to keep the gate closed,” she said.

Then finally, in June, Noonan picked up the phone.

Orak said she explained the issue, and Noonan said, “No problem.” He said he would come to pick up the gate and repair the lock, she said.

Noonan picked up the gate on a Monday — again Orak wasn’t sure of the exact date in June — and he said it would be returned that Friday. Saturday at the latest.

But the gate wasn’t returned that Friday or Saturday, or the week after.

“Again I have called every week from different phones, left many, many messages, and again, a lot of times the mailbox is full and I could not leave a message, and still he hasn’t returned my calls,” she said. “Well, it is now September and I still don’t have my gate.”

“I have been more than patient and I want my gate back,” she said.gate

That’s when she reached out to Bamboozled.

OPENING A DOOR?

We reviewed the one-page receipt for the job — the only paperwork Orak had — and we left a message for Noonan.

The phone was picked up quickly. It was a woman named Joan, who identified herself as the secretary.

She took a message for Noonan, and we took a closer look at the company.

The Division of Consumer Affairs has no complaints against the company, which has a current Home Improvement Contractor (HIC) registration with the state.

But the registration number didn’t appear on the one-page estimate/contract that was given to Orak, which is a violation. The document also didn’t have a start or end date for the job, which is also required under the law. The business address listed is the same as Noonan’s home, according to public records.

Public records also show that Greenview Landscaping and Noonan have several lawsuits against them. Three ended in default judgments, and two were settled before trial.

There are also a couple of state tax liens against Noonan from 2012: One was for $44,137, and the second was for $3,779.

We called Noonan again the next day, and we left a detailed message on his office voice mail.

We left a similar message on his cell phone, and he did call us back later that day.

“It’s 100 percent my fault,” Noonan said. “It has nothing to do with her. Unfortunately the lock broke. I brought back to the distributor. I forgot to pick it up. It fell off the radar for me.”

Noonan said when he did return to the distributor — the same day he received our first message — the distributor couldn’t find the gate, but it’s reordering a new one. It should be ready in six days, which would be Wednesday of this week, Noonan said.

We asked about all the calls Orak said she made, and the messages she said she left.

“I don’t know about that. I haven’t talked to her in a long time,” Noonan said. “It was my fault. It just fell off the radar. When my wife said you called, I was like, ‘Oh my God.'”

Then he said something that conflicted with Orak’s tale. He said it broke when Orak was holding it on a windy day.

Wait a moment. She said the gate seemed to be misaligned, which was evidenced by the marks on the post, and that it was a progressive weakening of the lock area.

“Absolutely not. She said it blew off in the wind,” he said. “She told me that’s what happened.”

Orak was happy to hear a new gate was finally coming, but she still felt sour over the situation.

“I’d like to believe he will be here in six days,” she said.

She also disputes Noonan’s statements about wind being the cause of the broken lock.

“I told him it was misaligned,” she said. “It was so misaligned that the lock broke off the plastic part of the gate and you couldn’t re-hook it. You can see the black marks from the scraping.”

In any case, the new gate should arrive later this week. We thank Noonan for making good on his promise, and Orak said she would let us know when it is re-installed.

Staff researcher Vinessa Erminio contributed to this report.

Have you been Bamboozled? Reach Karin Price Mueller at Bamboozled@NJAdvanceMedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KPMueller. Find Bamboozled on Facebook. Mueller is also the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com.