Thursday, December 2, 2010
7 News Investigations: Storm of Trouble
Hurricane season 2010 has come to a close with no storms affecting us here in South Florida, but some South Florida residents hoping for hurricane protection, fear they are facing a storm of trouble, 7's Patrick Fraser has more.
WSVN -- When it comes to protecting your home from a storm, you can go for the plywood or the shutters, but some people want something that's really fast and simple.
Mark Scola: "We're getting too old to do and we decided to go with impact windows and accordions on the bottom. It would make it easy."
Joyce and Mark were tired of lugging hurricane panels up and down ladders to their second floor windows.
Joan Battaglia: "We were planning on getting the accordion shutters on the windows here and over here."
Joan Battaglia didn't want to buy plywood anymore and Joe Marchese just wanted peace of mind.
Joe Marcheses: "So, this way we wouldn't have to worry when the storms come."
All were looking to install easy to operate accordion shutters, and all turned to a name familiar to many South Floridians.
Joe Marcheses: "Rolladen was the lowest and he gave me the big schpeal about how Rolladen is the greatest company in the world, and I said, well fine we'll go with you."
Joan Battaglia: "I figured they had been around for a long time. They were the company to go with. I felt comfortable."
Mark, Joe, Joan all signed contracts with Rolladen Shutters. All gave large deposits. All were told installation would begin in approximately four to eight weeks, and all are still waiting.
Joe Marcheses: "I waited nine weeks. I called up, I said, how's my shutters going. He said, 'Well we got to go for a permit.'"
Mark Scola: "They missed August. They missed September. They missed October."
Joan Battaglia: "August came and went, hadn't heard a thing. So we figured we'd call to check to say hey you know what's going on."
Patrick Fraser: And they are not alone. In the last month, 7 News has received emails from seven other Rolladen customers, all telling the same story. They paid but they never got their shutters.
Mark Scola: "You get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know that I'm in trouble. This a bad situation."
Mark and Joyce paid almost $5,000. Joan, $4,00. Joe so far, just over a thousand.
Joe Marcheses: "Now, I just received Saturday another bill. Saturday. They want the balance. I haven't got any shutters yet. They want a balance."
Mark got so fed up he asked for his money back and he told a woman at Rolladen that 7 News was interviewing him.
Mark Scola: "At 6 p.m. I got a call back from Robert Hoffman."
Robert Hoffman is listed as the president of Rolladen inc. He promised to deliver a check to Mark's home two days later and to his credit, the check was delivered while we were there.
Mark Scola: "So let's see, as promised $4,300."
And not 10 minutes later that check bounced.
Mark Scola: "We tried to cash the check and the funds were unavailable. They send this man all the way over here to drop off a worthless check."
Robert Hoffman declined to be interviewed on camera, but told us over the phone that he was counting on his staff at Rolladen to keep customers informed. He admitted the company has fallen behind in fulfilling orders, but said they would be able to fulfill every contract. He told us they completed three to four jobs last week.
Joan Battaglia: "I want my money back. I don't feel comfortable with them at this point."
All seven Rolladen clients who contacted us say they want their money back, and to his credit Mr. Hoffman says he will contact each one personally and return it. He did finally make good with Mark and Joyce. They were able to cash their check later that same day and now say they will be contacting another company to do the work at their home hoping to avoid another storm of trouble.