In December, we brought you the story of Arlene and John Dolce of Roseland, who signed a contract with Aqua-Dri Basement Waterproofing to do some work in their home. Within the three-day rescission period, the couple decided to cancel the contract, but the company refused to return a $3,000 deposit.
After Bamboozled got involved, Aqua-Dri’s Al Demola promised to return the money.
It didn’t happen as planned.
Shortly after our story ran, Demola responded in writing to the Better Business Bureau about the Dolce’s complaint. He wrote: “we would be willing to work with mr dolce if his position is reasonable.”
The Dolce’s response: they filed a small claims suit against Aqua-Dri and Demola.
Since the story ran, we’ve learned some interesting information about Aqua-Dri. More on that later.
We also met other customers who had questionable experiences with Aqua-Dri.
Jere Brill and Bart Gelormino hired Aqua-Dri for services in their Wayne home and for their vacation property down the shore. They wanted to share their experience after reading about the Dolces.
The couple had a series of mishaps with work done at their homes by Aqua-Dri, including water in the basement after waterproofing services, which had cost several thousand dollars. The couple also paid $900 to replace two pumps that were still under warranty. After Demola failed to fix the problem, they said they went to the Better Business Bureau and Middlesex County’s consumer affairs department for relief. (The county’s consumer affairs department said it has 16 complaints against the company, in addition to the eight complaints filed with the state’s Division of Consumer Affairs.)
Eventually, the county’s consumer affairs department got a $900 refund for Brill and Gelormino, but they’re still out lots of money, and they’re angry.
“We have had nothing but trouble from them since we put their system into our homes,” Jere Brill said. Back to the Dolces.
Nearly three weeks after Demola promised to return the $3,000, the Dolces hadn’t received any money.
We asked Demola why the refund was not given. Demola wouldn’t address the case, saying he’s no longer with the company.
“Talk to Richard. He owns the company,” Demola said.
Richard is Richard Aboussleman, whose name is on Aqua-Dri’s home contracting license, which according to documents filed with the state, expired on Dec. 31, 2010.
We left messages for Aboussleman at Aqua-Dri and at a home telephone number to follow-up on the Dolce’s refund. He returned our call, but didn’t give us a chance to ask many questions.
“He works for that company,” Aboussleman said of Demola.
When asked about Aboussleman’s ownership of Aqua-Dri, he said: “I have no idea what you’re talking about. I have nothing to do with that company.”
That conflicts with the business filings, which show Aboussleman listed as the principal and sole owner of Aqua-Dri.
There are other ties between Aboussleman and Demola. Public records show they have both shared an address in North Brunswick.
That same address was also shared by Kim Costa, Demola’s wife, or maybe, ex-wife. Demola said they’re now separated. And it’s Kim Costa’s name under which a new waterproofing company, Thrifty Waterproofing, has been born, according to business filings with the state.
We wondered if Demola, given Aqua-Dri’s “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau, had started a new company with the help of Costa.
Demola said he has nothing to do with Thrifty, and messages to Costa at business and home numbers were not returned.
We had several more conversations with Demola, and he made another promise. He said he had a meeting scheduled with Aqua-Dri.
“I’ll get that money refunded,” he said. “I’ll take care of the Dolces.”
And sure enough, the next day, Demola faxed Bamboozled a copy of a receipt, crediting $3,000 credit to the Demola’s credit card account.
Arlene Dolce called MasterCard to ask if the credit was there, but MasterCard said it would take two to five days before it would show on her account.
We thank Demola for the credit, but still, we wondered how was he able to make the refund happen if he’s no longer an employee of the company.
“I said, `You gotta do it. It’s just gotta be done,”’ Demola said.
Demola also told us he’d like to be back working at Aqua-Dri, which he said is a possibility.
It seems there are many layers to this guy’s business dealings. Bamboozled hopes the authorities take note and peel back a few more.
And we’ll let you know when the credit appears on the Dolce’s account.