Contractor Accused Of Misleading Homeowners

None — Some Charlotte area residents were sued after deciding not to hire contractors with whom they met.

Those people said they only wanted an estimate, while the contractor said they signed a binding contract.

Jerome and Jackie Perry said they found a flyer from All-Pro Builders in their mailbox and called, wondering if spring storms had damaged their roof. Now, though, they said they have no idea what they were getting into.

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"He deceived me. Point blank deceived me," Jerome Perry said.

Jerome Perry said he and Jackie signed a document for All-Pro owner Angelo Tillman, believing it was a proposal for what might be done.

"I saw it says ‘proposal' at the top," Jerome Perry said. "Before I signed it, I said, ‘Does this obligate us to anything?' He said no."

The Perrys said that abruptly changed, though. Days later, when they decided not to hire All-Pro Builders, they said Tillman told them that by signing the document, they had agreed to hire the company.

"He said it is a binding contract for him to do the work on our roof," Jackie Perry said.

Tillman took the Perrys to court, demanding they pay him $3,500 in damages for profit he said he would have made on the job. A judge in small claims court threw the case out, but Tillman appealed the decision.

The Perrys weren't alone. Kenneth Shaw said he was also sued when he signed what he thought was a proposal and then chose not to hire All-Pro Builders.

"Once you sign it, he feels like he got you," Shaw said.

The document Shaw signed does say "acceptance of proposal" and "you are authorized to do the work" at the bottom.

Charlotte attorney Marc Gustafson said the lack of the word "contract" on the document is legal, but can be misleading.

"If I saw this, I'd view that as an estimate because it looks like an estimate," Gustafson said about the document.

Channel 9 tracked down Tillman and asked him about his sales pitch and the lawsuits.

"Because we never had a problem with ‘proposal,'" he said when asked why the document says "proposal" but is treated as a contract. "Well, just these people," he said when the Perrys and Shaw were mentioned.

Tillman admitted that a court arbitrator had a problem with the wording, too. He has dropped his lawsuits and changed the documents to say "contract."

"We do not want to be like we're trying to mislead people," he said.

Gustafson said people can protect themselves best from situations like these by following a simple rule.

"Your mindset should be: Do not sign until you are ready to commit," he said.

The Better Business Bureau said it's best to get multiple estimates before agreeing to have work done, and that consumers should think twice before doing business with any company that won't provide an estimate.