by: Don Griffin Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - It is the end of an era on Channel 9 Thursday as Action 9's Don Griffin reports for the final time.
Don finished a story he started more than a decade ago helping a local man get hundreds of dollars from a contractor.
Don's report shows how the help changed the man's business.
Mike Ray is all smiles after holding an $1,800 check for the courts for money he was scammed out of by fencing contractor Milton Gray.
That was in 2001 and Ray never thought he would see the money again.
"I owe it to you. I owe it to you Don Action 9. If it hadn't been for you coming in and helping me through this process, we never would have gotten the money," Ray said.
In 2001, Griffin convinced Ray to file a criminal complaint with police against the contractor which led to him getting his money back.
Twelve years ago, Ray said he had to install his own fence after paying Gray the $1,864 deposit.
"And you had paid this guy Milton Gray to do this for you?" Griffin asked in 2001.
"Absolutely, I thought I did," Ray said.
"And he ripped you off?" Griffin asked.
"He ripped me off," Ray said.
Ray warns anyone who has been scammed by a contractor to file a criminal complaint as opposed to going to small claims court where judgments are near impossible to collect.
"If it hadn't been for that, there would have been no restitution," Ray said.
After dealing with two dozen contractors on his home improvement projects, Ray has become an expert on how not to get ripped off.
He now checks every contractor's references online and with the Better Business Bureau.
He asks for proof of insurance and licenses, then verifies they are current.
Ray pays with a credit card for an additional level of protection.
"We don't deal with out of town contractors at all. (We) can't check their work," Ray said.
After his 12-year upfront deposit ordeal Ray says, "And above everything else, we never give money to a contractor until the work is done to the level specified in the contract."
Follow these rules and you are less likely to get ripped off in the first place.
Despite this being his last Action 9 report, it won’t be the final time as Channel 9 will have special stories all next week paying tribute to Don and what he has meant to viewers.
Channel 9 will be “Celebrating Don” starting Monday at 5 p.m.