It's hard not to like Magnolia McLean. The 82-year-old Wilmington woman contacted our newsroom recently, upset that a local contractor took a $1,000 down payment to redo her kitchen cabinets, and then never returned to do the work.
"It makes me feel real bad. Really, really sad that anybody would do that, and then run away,” McClean said.
It was a project Magnolia McLean had been saving for, for quite some time.
She wanted new cabinets installed in her kitchen, and saw an ad in the paper for Bayview Cabinets.
Steve Morono came out to do the estimate, and she gave him a thousand dollars upfront to buy the materials.
After a month went by with no word from Morono, Mrs. McLean called to find out what was going on. She says at first he said the cabinets weren't ready, then he said he was sick, then, he disappeared all together.
Mrs. Mclean took out a warrant against him, for failure to do work after being paid.
"I just can't see how he would do people like that. I'm just on social security. I mean I work part time if someone call me into sub, but I'm just here, my expenses going on, there's no income"
Unfortunately, Morono was a no-show in court, and Mrs. McLean has now lost her court filing fees on top of her down payment.
If authorities ever do catch up with him, he now has a failure to appear warrant pending on top of the original warrant for failing to do the work he promised.
We get complaints about this kind of stuff happening to people all the time. Sometimes, the contractors are flat out crooks, other times, they're well meaning businessmen who have just gone bust in this economic climate, and lost people's down payments in the process.
Experts say if the contractor asks for a big chunk of money up front, this could be a tip-off that they are not in good financial shape; a fair down payment should not exceed one third the total project cost.