St. Louis area homeowners including a man from Ballwin said they lost thousands of dollars each to a local contracting business that took their money but did little or no work, according to a warning issued in a news release from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Customers told the BBB that Conyers Construction Co. and president Larry B. Conyers reneged on promises to build decks, erect retaining walls or make other home improvements, and then disappeared with their money.
A man from Ballwin estimated he lost $11,000 to the company. A retired couple from Fenton put their losses at $9,000. A Korean War veteran and his wife from south St. Louis County said they lost more than $6,000.
“I baked them cookies; we gave them tomatoes,” the veteran’s wife said of company employees. “How can (Conyers) live with himself?”
The construction company has an “F” grade with the BBB, the lowest grade possible, according to the BBB.
Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said that many of the victims were senior citizens who entrusted their savings to Conyers.
“For this man to take advantage of people in this way is reprehensible,” she said in thw BBB news release. “Time after time, it appears that Mr. Conyers took the money and left his customers high and dry.”
The BBB said Conyers registered Conyers Construction Company with the Missouri secretary of state in February 2007. At that time, the business used the address of Conyers’ rental home on Valley Dell Drive in Fenton. Conyers moved from that address about three weeks ago and now rents at the Greenmar Apartments complex in Fenton.
Conyers has not responded to BBB letters or other attempts to contact him.
Many of the complaints involve contracts that were signed in the summer or fall of 2011. In most cases, the contracting firm started work but never completed it. In one case, involving two families in a St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood, the company took about $1,800 for a deck improvement project and has never started the work.
The Ballwin, Mo., homeowner said he contracted for construction of a deck, a gazebo and a retaining wall at his home. The man said he paid Conyers more than $16,000 in advance in September 2011, but the company abandoned the project after doing about $5,000 in work. Numerous phone calls went unreturned, he said.
The Fenton, Mo., retirees said they made $11,000 in upfront payments on a $25,000 construction project at their home. Between October and November, workmen did about $2,000 in work before disappearing. The wife said the company left so quickly that it abandoned several pieces of equipment at their house.
“It just really hits me hard,” she said.
The south St. Louis County couple said that Conyers’ son, Matthew, appeared to be overseeing the construction of their deck. They tried several times to contact both father and son, but their calls were not returned.
“I don’t know what happened,” the husband said.
The BBB offers the following tips for consumers looking to hire contractors for home improvement projects:
Research a company thoroughly. If at all possible, visit its business address. Ask for references and contact them. Ask your county or municipal building officials if they have had experience with the company.
- Get a signed contract that details the work to be done, materials to be used, work deadlines and when payments are due. If you have any concerns with the contract, make sure changes are made before you sign it.
- Do not pay the full amount in advance of the work being completed. A good rule of thumb is to pay one-third when the contract is signed, another third when the job is 50 percent complete and the final third when you are satisfied with the completed job.
- Get more than one bid. If one of the bidders is significantly lower than the others, try to find out why before signing a contract with the business.
- Pay by credit card whenever possible in the event you may want to challenge the charge.
- Check a company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.
The BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews on more than 4 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution service, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information.