In the fall of 2013, Krotenberg hired North Jersey Paving and Construction to redo her driveway. One of the owners at the time, James Gorman, was the guy in charge of the job, she said.
But before long, Krotenberg said, the $2,500 job was crumbling and needed to be replaced.
“My driveway sides have cracks in them. I had a hole right in the middle of my driveway which I had repaired because I didn’t want it to get bigger,” Krotenberg told Bamboozled. “I had another contractor see my mess and he told me that whoever did it did not put down enough material. The driveway looks worse now than before I had it done.”
She tried calling Gorman, but he wouldn’t return her phone calls, she said.
An estimate by another company found the driveway couldn’t be repaired, but needed to be ripped up and redone. The cost? $4,500.
Krotenberg started working with a mediator from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, who reached out to Gorman, documents show.
Gorman promised in an email he’d stop by the house to see what could be done, but he never showed, Krotenberg said.
The case got more complicated when we learned Gorman was no longer part of the business. His partner, William Mesker, bought Gorman out, and Mesker said he knew nothing about the job or the complaints.
Mesker said he has since moved out-of-state, but the company is still operating, and he promised he’d fix the job.
“The weather has to be nice to do the work right,” he said at the time. “I was hoping to let the winter run its course. If I can’t get it done this year, come next spring, I’ll remove the entire driveway and put in the entire driveway for free.”
He also promised to have his attorney send Krotenberg a letter saying so.
Joan Krotenberg stands in her driveway. She said she paid $2,500 a year ago for a new driveway, but it’s already cracking and crumbling.
Courtesy Joan Krotenberg
The letter said Mesker would “correct the problem regarding the work that James Gorman did for Ms. Krotenberg.”
The letter also noted that the weather impacts paving jobs, and said “…for the work to properly be performed, the warmer springtime is the time frame for which the work should be started.”
Krotenberg said knowing that Mesker moved made her nervous, so she asked via Consumer Affairs for the $2,500 she had paid for the job to be put into an escrow account to be held by Mesker’s attorney.
“So that if Mr. Mesker does not redo my driveway by July 1, 2015, that I receive the amount which is what I paid,” Krotenberg asked Consumer Affairs in an email. “I am willing to forgo the interest on the $2,500. (at 1% times 20 months would be approximately $52).”
Several more letters passed. In the end, Mesker’s attorney declined the escrow idea, but said the driveway would be completed by March 15, 2015.
We do hope the weather is nice and warm around then.
Around the same time the attorney’s letters were going back and forth with Consumer Affairs, Mesker sent us an email to express his dissatisfaction with the original story. We asked him about the escrow idea and if there was anything else he wanted to say on the matter.
“I was unaware that James [Gorman] did this job or that there was an issue with it. As soon as I was aware I took action. Joan wants $2,500 of my capital sitting in escrow and her driveway re-done which will cost around the same,” Meskler wrote. “The only thing that tied me to that job is James [Gorman] used a North Jersey contract for the job. I don’t have Joan’s money or any profit from the job. So that means it will cost $5,000 out-of-pocket for me. It’s not fair.”
We wrote again, explaining that the escrow money would only sit in the account until the job was done. Krotenberg would either get the new driveway or the $2,500, not both.
“I understand the process, but North Jersey is closed for the winter and will not resume operations till March of 2015 and is not a major corporation like The Star-Ledger that has revolving accounts and cash flow,” he said. “In order to stay in business I must protect my company I must maintain operating capital.”
“I will put this to rest until March 15, 2015,” she said. “Let’s see what the spring brings.”
And we’ll let you know what happens.
Have you been Bamboozled? Reach Karin Price Mueller at Bamboozled@NJAdvanceMedia.com.