OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Any homeowner who has ever had to pull out a step ladder from the garage and make the unnerving climb to the top of their home to clean leaves and debris out of gutters can appreciate the desire to never have to do so again. That's why coverings for gutters have become a popular choice for homeowners.
Marvin Lane, of Overland Park, and his next door neighbor, Melvin Romme, decided to invest in new gutters with covers to keep out dirt and leaves. The pair hired local contractor Mark Stephens to install the new gutters.
The homeowners decided to purchase the coverings called Gutterglove Pro – a brand that is made in America by the company, Gutterglove, and recommended by Consumer Reports magazine. Lane spent $3,100 for the gutters and coverings. Romme was able to negotiate a slightly lower cost of $2,850.
"What they were recommending, and what we were buying – what they said was the top of the line product for Gutterglove, not an inferior product," Lane said.
When the new gutters and coveringss were installed, both men said they noticed problems such as water pouring over the gutters when it rained.
"We kept on calling Mark and he came back … he didn't get the problem solved," Romme said.
Frustrated, Lane contacted Gutterglove. Lane explained the problem, sent pictures and then received some surprising news.
"I was completely flabbergasted. He said ‘you don't have Gutterglove,'" Lane said.
Both Lane and Romme did not get what they chose and purchased. Gutterglove confirmed some of the coverings on their homes were made by the company, but a different style than what they had ordered was installed. Other sections of the coverings were made by an entirely different manufacturer, a product that is less expensive and made in China.
Call For Action contacted Stephens to ask why he installed different products.
"There's actually three kinds of gutter guards on this house, not two – three kinds," Stephens admitted.
Stephens said he returned to Lane and Romme's homes several times to fix issues they reported with the gutters and the coverings. When asked why he patched together three different types of guards, Stephens said he tried to correct problems caused by the layout of the roof on each home.
Complaints against gutter covering installers are not uncommon. The Better Business Bureau received 776 complaints in 2009 and 928 in 2008.
A search of Stephen's business, KC Gutterglove, with the BBB's website directs consumers to another one of his businesses, KC Prime Exteriors. That company receives an "A" rating.
Kansas consumer law protects the consumer by making sure a person receives exactly what was purchased. The coverings Lane and Romme paid for come with a 25-year warranty. Stephens was supposed to send a copy of the warranty to Gutterglove corporate offices. He did not.
"Their warranty form was stolen along with my briefcase in a pickup truck that was stolen," Stephens claimed.
After meeting with Call For Action, Stephens removed the old coveringss from Lane and Romme's homes and installed the Gutterglove Pro brand they originally ordered.
"I'm willing to do anything I can for these folks," Stephens said.
After installation, another Gutterglove installer inspected the job.
"Overall the Gutterglove looks really good. It's installed properly," said Jason Scoggins of American Gutter and Sheet Metal, Inc.
Now, both homeowners are glad to finally have what they originally bought.
"We really appreciate you coming out and investigating this ... This would never happen without your help," Lane said.
Stephens said he has not installed multiple coverings on homes of any of his other customers.
Gutterglove said the company has received two other similar customer complaints against Stephens. Gutterglove has set up a website with information to help customers.
What can consumers do make sure they receive the gutter product they paid for?
- Inspect it. Look at the product once it is installed. If something does not look right, ask questions.
- Check out the contractor through consumer websites for ratings and reviews.
- If you have issues with the installer, contact the gutter cover manufacturer to see if they can recommend another installer.