WSVN — He hired a roofer because of the warranty that came with the work. Then the roof started leaking. The company went out of business and reopened under a slightly different name, then told him his warranty was no good. It’s why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
When Frank and his wife bought their house on two and a half acres, they had good reasons.
Frank Lazarowicz: “We had a daughter here and we had two horses, so we needed the extra property. And now my daughter’s moved away and the horses are gone.”
The children are grown, the horses are gone, but if you own a home, you know one thing never changes.
Frank Lazarowicz: “My wife noticed on the ceiling there was a spot, and it looked like a water leak from the roof.”
A leak from a spot where the tile meets the flat roof.
Frank Lazarowicz: “It’s a transition.”
Turns out that part of the roof had been replaced in 2009, and Frank smartly went with a company that made a guarantee.
Frank Lazarowicz: “We knew we had gotten a 15-year warranty on it, so we figured we’d contact them and it was guaranteed for 15 years to not leak.”
Frank contacted the company and got an email response.
Frank Lazarowicz: “‘That company was dissolved, so we’re not responsible for the warranty.'”
Frank started doing his research, and yes, the company had dissolved, but it reopened after changing its name … barely.
Frank Lazarowicz: “Instead of Wessinger Group, it’s Wessinger Construction and Realty.”
The name was a little different, but several other things were the same.
Frank Lazarowicz: “It’s the same phone number, same email address, the same contact information. They just changed the name of the company.”
Frank says you can change the name of a company, but one thing doesn’t change to him: A promise is a promise.
Frank Lazarowicz: “What is a warranty if you are not going to honor it? A warranty is a promise that you’re going to fix something, if it was your fault, and a leak guarantee is a warranty.”
Well, Howard, does a warranty dissolve if a company closes down and reopens under a new name?
Howard Finkelstein: “It’s a simple question, but a complicated answer. If a business shuts down and reopens with a similar name, same phone number, same people, a court could conclude they changed names to avoid liabilities like warranties, and in that case, they would have to honor the warranty. If they go out of business and reopen with different phone numbers, a different name, then a court could conclude the new company is not responsible for the warranty issued by the old company. Basically, it’s a judgment call from a judge.”
We contacted William Wessinger, the owner of the company that originally did the roof work for Frank. He was helpful. He said he changed the name of his company because he also started dealing in real estate.
He said he didn’t know that Frank’s roof was leaking, that the warranty was pro-rated and Frank should pay for part of the repairs, but to be nice, he’d do the repairs for free. And he did.
Howard Finkelstein: “This company did the right thing, and give them credit. If you have a situation like this, file a complaint with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. They can take the contractor or roofer’s license if they think the company was shut down and reopened to avoid honoring warranties.”
Frank Lazarowicz: “We were a little surprised about their quick response.”
Frank had a problem. He called Help Me Howard. Problem solved.
Frank Lazarowicz: “I’m glad we called Help Me Howard. It saved me a lot of money.”
Glad we could help. How do you know if a company is going to be around to honor a warranty? You don’t, but do business with people who have been around for a while. That will increase your odds.
And Howard mentioned filing a complaint with the state. The link to do that is at the end of this Help Me Howard.
Got a problem you want to shut down and reopen in the solved category? Need some help patching things up? Contact us. We don’t issue warranties, but we guarantee we’ll do our best, and sometimes our best is good enough.
With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation
1940 North Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1027
If a consumer believes that a contractor is in violation of the laws and regulations outlined in Chapter 489, Florida Statutes, or Chapter 61G, Florida Administrative Code, they are encouraged to file a complaint with the Department. Complaints can be filed on the DBPR website (www.myfloridalicense.com) by clicking the ‘File a Complaint’ tab located on the homepage (Direct link to the Online uniform complaint form) or by calling DBPR at 850-487-1395.
(m) Section 489.129(1)(m), F.S.; Misconduct or incompetency in the practice of contracting, shall include, but is not limited to:
1. Failure to honor a warranty.
FIRST OFFENSE From
$1,000 fine or probation or suspension.
$2,500 fine and probation or suspension.
From $5,000 fine and probation or suspension to
$10,000 fine and revocation.