NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
DALLAS — In parts of Dallas, this will be known as the season of the roof.
As much as $400 million of hail damage from June's giant storm is still trickling through neighborhoods, as roofers repair damaged homes. The work will continue for months.
But some homeowners are already discovering that hail damage isn't all they need to be afraid of.
Mamie Starlin is as mad about what happened after the hail storm as she was about her roof damage — mad about the door-to-door roof salesman who told her she'd have to sign a paper for him to look at her roof.
"He said, 'I need your permission to go up on your house.' That's exactly what he said... no word about 'contract' come up," Starlin said.
Then, she said the salesman began nagging her about putting a sign in her yard. "You're not doing my roof," she told them. "'Oh, we gonna do your roof,'" she said was the salesman's reply.
Then Starlin said she told him she was canceling the contract. She said he then told her, "If you cancel, you owe us 25 percent."
"Listen to what the salesman says and compare it with what's in writing, because it's only what's in writing in the contractor agreement that you're going to be able to hold them to," advised Jeanette Kopko of the Better Business Bureau.
Kim Parish read his contract. The roof got done.
Then it started leaking
He complained to the Better Business Bureau and the roofer fixed the leak.
According to BBB records, the company claimed that the "complaint was resolved to the point where customer regrets filing the complaint."
But Parish disagrees with that conclusion. "I don't regret filing the complaint, because if I hadn't filed the complaint, they never would have come out here and fixed it," he said.
Parish's roof no longer leaks, but now there's a depression in the decking he says wasn't there before.
Ashco Exteriors Inc. did Kim Parish's roof, and signed up Mamie Starlin — although she eventually had her roof repaired by another company.
"This is not a representation of our company," said Ashco president Greg Anderson. "It's an isolated instance, and I'm sorry that it happened."
Anderson said the June storm will generate about 700 roofing jobs for his company at an average price of $10,000 each. He says a 25 percent cancellation fee is very common in the industry, but his company rarely enforces it.
He said it's important to check references before signing a contract.
"After this storm, everyone who had a pickup and a ladder became a roofer," Anderson said.
The Dallas Better Business bureau says complaints against roofers are up 150 percent, and inquiries are up 200 percent.
At the Dallas Police Department, Investigator Mike Dana says that's exactly what consumers need to do... inquire about the company before you hire.
"If you give a down payment and you didn't check out that company, you're opening yourself up for fraud," Dana said.
And everybody we talked to had one simple piece of advice about roofers: Read the contract before signing it.
"Don't sign anything. Don't pay anything. You need to take the time to do the research," Dana advised.
Mamie Starlin has learned her lesson.
"Don't be signing nothing without reading it," she said. "That's the main thing."
"You should know what it is you're singing and understand how it works," Kopko added.