MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - Door-to-door scams come and go. In this Taking Action Investigation, WHNT News 19 is warning consumers about a duo with a pattern of questionable business practices in communities across the Tennessee Valley.
The father and son team hasn't been exposed until now.
Customers say they have high pressure tactics and a threatening manner. Now, those people want to be heard and they want these men stopped.
The men share the same name: Tony Joles. They're no strangers to law enforcement. You could build a photo album of mug shots of the Joles. WHNT News 19 obtained jail pictures from various counties across north Alabama and Tennessee.
The photos show 52-year-old Tony L. Joles and 23-year-old Tony N. Joles. Arrest records show charges from 2006 to as recently as February of this year ranging from theft of property to theft by deception.
Customers say the pair is known to knock on the doors of unsuspecting homeowners, offering to do handyman work. One of their latest stops was a property in Brownsboro, where dirty gutters started the conversation.
"They said they were in the neighborhood and saw my gutters need to be cleaned out and they would do it for $200," said Betty Smith. "I thought about it, and I thought well, they needed it because they were full."
Smith says she gave Tony Joles, Jr. the green light to get cleaning. But the men eventually made their way into Betty's crawl space, claiming there was mold. The next thing Betty knew, they were demanding big bucks, claiming they'd set off a bomb to combat the fungus. Betty said she never agreed to this.
"They were nice up until the point where they wanted their money," said Smith. She says the men demanded $2,800. They eventually discounted the deal to $2,350.
Betty said she wouldn't pay. She said the men followed with a threat.
"They would call the sheriff's department and have me arrested for not paying for something they had done," said Smith.
So why did she write a check for $1,800? Betty's answer: Fear.
"I said I am not going to get rid of these guys, and I don't know what they are going to do," said Smith.
Their approach didn't work at a Huntsville house.
"When he told me that they wanted $16 a quart, I went into orbit," said Kathy Cornutt.
It was a pressure washing pitch for Cornutt.
"He said we have new cleaner that we use and we spray it on and rinse it off, and wipe it down with a cloth," she said.
The Joles said it would cost $250. But after the men started working, the quote changed ever so slightly.
"There was going to be 12 gallons of that, which figured out to be $448 and I wasn't very nice because I told him he had lost his mind cause I wasn't paying that," Cornutt said.
Ultimately, the Cornutts paid the Joles $350, though they weren't satisfied with the job. From their perspective, it was sloppy and unfinished.
Kathy immediately called the Better Business Bureau.
"They do have an F rating with the BBB, that is due to complaints we have processed a couple of years ago that the couple did not respond to, primarily paving job, most recently we have complaints come in involving pressure washing homes," said Michele Mason, North Alabama BBB President.
"It's sick, because I think a father has to be encouraging a child to follow in their footsteps," said Cornutt.
A questionable path that's concerning for consumers.
"You jail them, they are going to get out and do the same thing," said Betty Smith.
Right now, the Madison County Sheriff's Office is investigating the Joles. They wouldn't comment on the case.
WHNT News 19 checked with Huntsville and Madison County and found the Joles do not have a license to do business in either. They also don't have a permit to solicit in Huntsville, which you must have to go door to door.
We tried to connect with father and son. The son, Tony N. Joles, called us back. He admitted to some his past run-ins with the law, but said he's since cleaned up the way he does business. The consumers we interviewed in our report were visited by the men in June.
Joles also said, "If I did such bad work, why did they all pay me?"
So far, he hasn't agreed to an interview with WHNT News 19.
If Joles Contracting paid you a visit, and you aren't satisfied, the BBB would like to hear from you. Call our Better Business Bureau WHNT News 19 Consumer Action Line at (256) 850-0719. You are also urged to call authorities.