Looking to replace the fabric on two awnings and get a carport built in her driveway, Marisol Mercedes called the company Kingdom of Awnings in October of 2017. She told NBC 6 Responds the owner was quick to respond.
“He came over, very professional and he gave me an estimate,” Mercedes recalled.
She said she soon gave the owner, Maury Santaya, a $1,500 deposit to get started. He replaced the fabric on the awnings and told her to pull the permit for the carport herself, saying it would be more cost-effective. In March, she called him to start.
“He promised me and told me and guaranteed me that he was going to start the project in March which he never did," she said. "April came, May came, nothing was done.”
Mercedes said Santaya kept giving her excuses. By June, she said, she showed up at his business for a refund. After police were called, Santaya once again promised to get the work done.
“He said he was going to finish the job within that month of June,” Mercedes said. When that didn't happen, she called NBC 6 Responds.
We found out while she waited, Santaya had been arrested and charged with grand theft and organized fraud. The police report shows he charged another family $3,750 for an awning he never delivered. He reached a settlement with the prosecutors in that case.
As for his business, we found it had an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau because he didn’t respond to three other complaints.
“This company’s taking the money and then not delivering what they’re supposed to and all of the complaints are of the same nature,” said Better Business Bureau spokesperson Cinthya Lavin.
When NBC 6 Responds called Santaya, he declined an interview request but told us he would return Mercedes’s money minus the cost for the awning fabric he already delivered. Merrcedes told us he offered her $900 but she didn’t accept because she spent hundreds more on the drawings and permits.
“I want my money back and I’m not going to stop until he returns my money,” she said.
Mercedes filed a police report but detectives determined she “agreed to an open dated contract with the contractor, in where there is no date of completion. This makes the case a “civil matter” and un-prosecutable criminally at this time.”
The homeowner now plans to take Santaya to court.
Meantime, the Better Business Bureau said that if it identifies businesses who continuously wrongs consumers, it takes the information to state regulators.
“It is important to file a complaint with us because then we can establish a pattern and then bring people to justice,” Lavin explained.
It’s also important to always check that a contract has a completion date or at least an estimated completion date before singing it. If the date is blank, you’re pretty much at the mercy of the contractor.