The person that I dealt with is Claude Byron Harris, who claimed that he owned Mr. Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning. I have since found out that the company is supposedly owned by Linda Trombello, who claims that Mr. Harris had worked for her, but she had fired him mid-July because he was starting to “act funny.”
Despite the fact that he’d been “fired” mid-July, which is when I hired him, every single time that he showed up, he was driving a white van with the Mr. Comfort logo, and both phone numbers that he was using for Mr. Comfort were being billed to Linda Trombello, whom I believe is also involved.
I met Mr. Harris on 7/16/03, during my pre-closing walk through of the townhouse that I currently own & reside in. He was introduced to me by the realtor who sold me the house. The realtor knew that the house needed some work done, so because he knew Mr. Harris from having dealt with him in the past and he trusted him, he brought Mr. Harris to the final inspection and had him give me an estimate for the work that needed to be done. The price seemed fair and I trusted the realtor, so I hired Mr. Harris.
I closed on 7/17/03, Mr. Harris was at my home on 7/18/03. He replaced the locks on the front door, fixed a leaking toilet on the 1/2 bath on the main level, and serviced both furnaces and air conditioning compressors. I paid him $200 cash.
I moved in on 7/31/03, and Mr. Harris was back to do some more work on 8/2/03. On this date, he mounted several blinds, for which I paid him $300 cash.
On 8/5/03, he was at my home again to do some additional work. He mounted several towel bars, toilet paper dispensers, and cut down a small tree in the back yard.
On this same date, he requested a “loan” for $2,070. In exchange for this “loan”, he was to do any work that was needed around my home.
I had him sign a promissory note itemizing what work he would do, and he gave me the title to a 1984 Bayliner as collateral. The “loan” was due to be repaid in full on or before 9/15/03.(he kept calling it a loan, I called it payment in advance for services to be rendered.) Other than this amount, no additional payment was made on this date.
After 8/5/03, he didn’t show up again until 8/11/03 or 8/12/03. On this visit, he hooked up a gas dryer, and cleaned out the exhaust hose for the dryer. He didn’t ask for any payment, I didn’t give him anything.
On 8/13/03, he added a lock to the patio door located in the kitchen/dining area. He didn’t ask for payment, I didn’t give him anything.
On 8/15/03, he dropped off a weedeater that he had purchased for me at Meijers. I reimbursed him with a personal check. He did no additional work on this date.
On several instances, Mr. Harris made the commitment to show up and do work. On at least 4 different occasions, he never showed up, nor did he call to let me know that he would be unable to make it… I had to call him and find out what the heck was going on.
In each instance, he had some excuse, the main one being that he got involved in another job and he “forgot because he wasn’t organized.” I told him that I understood about the other jobs, but it was common courtesy to call and let me know that he would be delayed or he wouldn’t be able to make it at all.
He has not been back to my home since 8/15/03. I called him several times after that date telling him that I wanted my money back. I told him that I wanted ALL of my money back, and after I had received an itemize bill for services that actually WERE rendered, I would pay him.
He would arrange another date to come do the work, and then he wouldn’t show up yet again. The 3rd or 4th time that he did this, I started yelling at him because I was so fed up and angry, with both him and myself. This was on or around 8/21/03.
We set up another day for him to come do more work, and I was supposed to call him to confirm it that same morning. He didn’t show up at the time that he was scheduled, so I called him. I got his voicemail and left a message. I called daily, leaving messages, until I finally spoke to the realtor who introduced us. Mr. Harris would not take my calls, nor was he returning them.
On 9/5/03, I spoke to the realtor who introduced me to Mr. Harris. He advised me that Mr. Harris would appreciate it if I stopped calling the (708) 516-#### number- he knew that I was calling and he had no intention of calling me back.
Meanwhile, I had advised my realtor what had happened and he was also trying to contact Mr. Harris. On 9/11/03, he gave me an alternate number where would be able to reach Mr. Harris. This number was (262)206-####
I reached Mr. Harris at this number on 9/12/03, and reminded him that the “loan” was due to be repaid in full on 9/15/03. He indicated that he was aware of this and I would have the money back, in cash as agreed.
9/15/03 came and went without any sign of Mr. Harris. I have been trying to get my money back since then. I have contacted the Better Business Bureau in Chicago, the Il State Attorney General, and Target5.
I have heard nothing from Target5, I haven’t heard from the BBB since mid-October, and the Attorney General’s office advised me to either hire a lawyer or go to small claims court.
This guy is sneaky, preying on the elderly and women who have no man around. I was an idiot for trusting him. He gains your trust and makes you feel sorry for him by telling you what a hard life he’s had and how badly his ex-wife and his family treated him. DO NOT DEAL WITH HIM!!!!!
I’m angry, ashamed, and embarassed that I fell for it.
Hanover Park, Illinois
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