When Deanna returned home from Ireland, she was expecting familiarity.
She was welcomed with an unfamiliar pallet of shingles sitting outside her house. Two days later, she walked outside after showering to find six men tearing the roof off of her house.
"I did not hire them, I did not welcome them onto my property," Deanna Mercer, a homeowner in St. Louis County said.
Mercer never ordered a new roof. She said her house was recently built.
"They tried saying that I had signed a contract," she said.
They is a company called American Dream Home Improvement, who eventually demanded $12,000 for the roof.
There's a problem with the contract. If you look carefully at the document, Deanna's name is spelled and signed as Diana.
"It's not my signature, it's not even close to my signature," she said.
Deanna said her only encounter with the company was a door-to-door salesman who asked her if she wanted a new roof. She said she did not need one, yet a crew still showed up.
"I've lost many nights of sleep because now I'm worried about my home and the damage that it's doing to my home," Mercer said.
According to the Illinois Attorney General's office, the Consumer Fraud Bureau received 134 complaints about American Dream Home Improvement since 2010.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed suit against the business, saying the company's salespeople pressured homeowners into signing misleading, contradictory estimates, which the business would later try to enforce as orders for work and as contracts.
They are also accused of beginning work without consent and doing a poor job on the actual roof work.
Mercer's 'new' roof recently developed a leak, and she said it has ruined parts of her home.
"If we have to have the roof replaced, I don't know if that's something that insurance is going to cover," she said. "I don't know where to stand on that. We could be out of pocket for the entire bill and...it's very disturbing."
Linda Vogel and her family were in a similar situation.
"When I came down the street I thought they were attacking the house," Vogel's daughter, Jaya said.
Vogel also had a visit from an American Dream Home salesman and was considering hiring the company. She said she never gave them the go ahead, but a crew showed up to start working on her roof.
After they were done with the roof, Vogel said there was a leak from her skylight that ruined her bathroom.
Vogel eventually reached an out of court settlement with the company.
Here are some of the other American Dream Home complaints filed with the Attorney General:
The company's president, Michael Gray told the I-Team:
"From time to time we may have some issues as a growing company with now 27 offices in 15 states that being said we always service our customers and come up with a desirable resolution. Unfortunately with the incredible growth we have had we have somewhat become a victim of our own success in some isolated cases. As an example in the past 10 years alone we have built in excess of 100,000 jobs and have a complaint ratio of about .003% complaints. As far as your question goes with Illinois that is a challenge because our headquarters is in Illinois and therefore the BBB takes all of our national complaints in the state of Illinois and thinks that's issues we have in the state when the reality is it's actually smaller and those issues are currently being worked through and we are making sure American dream meets compliance 100%."
Here are seven tips from the Illinois Attorney General:
- Be wary of contractors who go door-to-door to offer repair services. Ask for recommendations from people you know and trust and, whenever possible, use established local contractors.
- Ask to see required state and local permits and licenses. Insurance adjusters and roofers must be licensed by state agencies. If the contractor does not have a required license, or if the name on the license doesn’t match the name on the contractor’s business card or truck, that should raise a red flag.
- Even if there is a need to act quickly, shop around for the best deal. Get written estimates from multiple contractors, and don’t be rushed into a deal.
- Get all of the terms of a contract in writing, and obtain a copy of the signed contract.
- Never make full payment until all the work has been completed to your satisfaction. Never pay in cash.
- Be aware that you have the right to cancel a contract within three business days if you signed it based on the contractor’s visit to your home.
- In the case of disaster repair, you have an additional right to cancel. If your insurance carrier denies coverage, you have the right to cancel the contract within five days of when your insurance carrier denies your coverage.