Bamboozled: Trying to close the doors on renovation

BB brandingTed Kossup has lived in his Fairfield home since 1975.

After 35 years, in 2010, Kossup decided it was time to spruce up the place.

He hired a contracting company — John Mallamace LLC of Totowa — to do the job.

And it was a biggie.

“Just to give you an idea of the scope of the job, I modernized the exterior by adding peaks to the house, added bay windows, a new roof, a brick front and new siding,” Kossup said.

The original quote was $73,900, but Kossup added some upgrades that increased the cost by about $25,000.

The work started in July and was mostly complete by the fall, except for a “punch list” of small items that needed to be finished.

93013“I was very pleased with his work and he was very accommodating when it came to changes,” Kossup said.

The “punch list” wasn’t the problem.

In August 2010 when the work was still going on, Kossup added one more item: new garage doors. He said after seeing his brand-new exterior, the old doors just didn’t look right.

Mallamace gave Kossup a quote of $5,880 for the doors, decorative clavos, openers, keypads and remote controls. The contract included labor and removal of the old doors.

Kossup said he paid Mallamace half the cost, and the new doors were delivered to Kossup’s home in November 2010.

“The doors had to be painted and my paving contractor suggested not installing the doors until after he was done putting in the new driveway and patio as his work would create copious amounts of dust,” Kossup said.

So he asked Mallamace to wait on the installation.

In the meantime, Mallamace completed most of the “punch list.”

In the fall of 2011, Kossup said Mallamace asked him for the balance of the garage door job.

“Based on the fact that I was holding up the job, and that our relationship was great, I gave him a check for the balance,” Kossup said.

The driveway pavers and patio were finally complete in August 2012, so Kossup called Mallamace, he said. He left several messages but Mallamace didn’t return his calls.

Then just after Hurricane Sandy, Kossup said, he unexpectedly bumped into Mallamace at a local diner.

“I asked him why he did not call me back and he said that his number had changed,” Kossup said. “This was not true as the number he gave me that evening was the same one I had been calling.”

Kossup said Mallamace acknowledged that the doors still had to be installed, and he told Kossup he still needed to order the components necessary to install the doors.

“He said to call him in a week,” Kossup said. “Numerous phone calls to him from me went unanswered for the next three months.”

In February 2013, Kossup said, he sent Mallamace a letter suggesting he might take other action to get the job done, such as small claims court or calling a newspaper.

“Two weeks after I mailed it, he called me to discuss the doors, going so far as suggesting a meeting with me and then not showing up,” Kossup said. “He used delaying tactics like this for the next few months.”

Finally on May 1, Kossup said, Mallamace told him the necessary components were ordered on April 29.

Kossup said he called Mallamace on May 10, but he didn’t receive a call back.

Kossup said he called again May 12, and Mallamace said the components were being delivered.

Shortly before this call, Kossup contacted Bamboozled for help and we started to investigate his case. But because Mallamace had started contact again, Kossup decided to give the man another shot to complete the job.

Kossup said he left Mallamace another message on May 31 — nothing had been delivered to Kossup’s home — but there was no return call.

On June 5, Kossup said he called again, and Mallamace said he was picking up the components the next day and he’d call on the way. There was no call.

They talked again on June 12, when Mallamace said the items were not delivered to the warehouse, Kossup said.

Then on June 30, Kossup said, he received a call from the warehouse directly, saying the parts were in.

“About the end of July, I spoke to John and he said it’s all his fault. ‘My bad,’ he said, for not progressing. He said he would get right on it,” Kossup said. “That’s the last I’ve heard from him.”

Kossup said he called again on Aug. 21, Sept. 5 and Sept. 9, but received no response.

“How much longer can I wait?” Kossup said when he asked us to reopen the case. “I think I’ve been most patient.”


We took a look at Mallamace and his company.

Public records show Mallamace has had some financial difficulties. He’s had six default judgments against him personally since November 2010. Another case was dismissed in 2009 and two active cases remain.

These cases were among those listed in a May 2013 bankruptcy filing by John Mallamace and his wife Antonella Mallamace — also known as Anna Mallamace — according to court records. The liabilities listed total more than $1 million, including more than $58,000 due to the Internal Revenue Service.

Assets include the Totowa home, valued at $625,000. It also lists a property in Ortley Beach that was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy and is being rebuilt, and is more than $100,000 in mortgage arrears. There’s also a third property John Mallamace owns with a family member which is in the process of a short sale, records show.

According to the bankruptcy filing, the couple has annual income of more than $150,000 from a construction company called Alor Maintenance, located at their home address.

The filing also said John Mallamace LLC hasn’t operated since 2011.

We checked with Consumer Affairs on the companies.

There are no complaints, but John Mallamace LLC hasn’t had a home improvement contractor (HIC) registration since 2008 — even though the bankruptcy filing said the company didn’t stop operations until 2011.

Alor Maintenance does have an active HIC registration with Anna Mallamace listed as the owner.

We reached out to John Mallamace to see if he planned to finish the job.

He confirmed that the parts were in and paid for. Coincidentally, he said, the supply house called him the day before to ask when the parts would be picked up.

“It’s a matter of delivering it to his house,” Mallamace said. “I know that sounds flimsy.”

He said he waited more than two years for Kossup to be ready for the garage door installation, and in that time, the manufacturer went out of business and the installer doesn’t do those jobs anymore.

We explained that Kossup took responsibility for the delays during the driveway installation, but that Kossup’s concern was Mallamace hadn’t returned his calls.

“It’s not an excuse. He’s going to have his stuff there by the end of the week and I’ll see what needs to be done,” he said. “I just need to find a qualified installer because of the complexity of the door.”

He then said Kossup could pick up the parts himself and hire his own installer, and Mallamace would pay the installation bill.

We called Kossup to share what Mallamace said.

“I’m not denying that I held him up, but the fact of the matter is we started calling him in August 2012,” Kossup said. “I don’t expect him to jump at my beck and call, but since last August he could have slipped me in.”

Kossup contacted the supply house to arrange the pickup, and he got a recommendation on an installer.

We called Mallamace with that information, and he said he would check it out and call us back.

Mallamace promised he’d schedule and pay for the installer. We’ll let you know when the job is done.