MADISON, Ala. - Homeowners in the Madison area are questioning agreements they signed with a local roofing company, arguing they did not think they were signing a contract for the company to start work repairing their homes.
Pro-Roofing USA of Huntsville is the subject of multiple calls to the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama, leaders there confirmed Tuesday. They said the callers are planning to file complaints. But the roofing company, in a conversation with WHNT News 19, said it is operating in good faith.
Briseida Cardwell told us why she says she no longer trusts Pro-Roofing USA of Huntsville and said she feels deceived.
She stated that she asked her neighbor who fixed their roof, and heard Pro-Roofing was responsible. She liked the way it looked, so she gave them a call.
"They were very friendly. They responded, and they scheduled a time and they came out," she stated.
An advertisement that a neighbor provided to WHNT News 19 states that Pro-Roofing USA of Huntsville offers a "no cost inspection," adding, "this service provides a baseline examination of your existing roofs (sic) condition."
Cardwell said when a representative came to her home, he inspected the roof and then informed her that he did believe her home had storm damage.
"He took out a form and said, 'Let me get some of your information.'"
It's that form that Cardwell now has problems with. She said during the course of their conversation, the Pro-Roofing representative asked her about her insurance company and ended up calling to start a claim. She said she initially thought it was great.
"It just-- it felt kind of rushed? But it was ok because it was like well, he's helping me out," she explained. "That's how I perceived it."
She said that together, they started a claim and the representative wrote information on the form. She signed it. Cardwell showed us the form, saying she did not think it was a binding agreement.
Cardwell's agreement does not, in large letters at the top, state that it is a contract. She said she was not aware that's what she was signing.
"He was supposed to be just checking my roof to see if there was damage," she said. "There was no agreement on any numbers, or any date where we would start this."
Cardwell's was not the only agreement WHNT News 19 saw. Another of her neighbors provided one. It reads, in small but bold print, that the signer acknowledges "that, if approved by my insurance company, Pro-Roofing USA of Huntsville will be allowed to complete any repairs or replacement paid for by my insurance company." Later, it states, "Minimum charge of $1000.00 if opt out of agreement."
The signature is under a section called, "Acceptance of proposal."
The agreement also reads that if the work is not approved by insurance, the contract is void. Approved work must be completed within 45 days from the date signed, and it also reads that all deductibles are paid "up front in full to Pro-Roofing USA of Huntsville."
"At that time, I did not read all the small print where it says that you are allowing them to complete any repairs," she stated. "And, it's a minimum charge of $1000 if you opt out of the agreement. But this is not an agreement! It's not completed! We had not agreed to anything at that point." She added, "I don't see any numbers. How can I agree to anything when I do not know how much they are going to charge? How much this is going to cost me?"
Cardwell said that on Tuesday, she awakened to sub-contractors working on her roof. She asked them to leave, and she asked the company to remove the shingles that were shipped to her home. But she claims when she addressed her concerns with Pro-Roofing, eventually the person on the other end of the phone call got hostile. She said they threatened her with a possible lien on her home. But she does not want them to do the work they promised, and she apparently signed for now.
"Am I liable to this company? Do I have to write them a check for a thousand dollars?" she questioned."At this time, I really don't know what my options are."
WHNT News 19 reached out to the company in question, Pro-Roofing USA of Huntsville. We confirmed through the City of Huntsville that Pro-Roofing USA of Huntsville is licensed and insured there. We immediately connected with a woman who identified herself as Margo, who said she works with the insurance companies.
"We do free inspections for people, and our paperwork simply states how we do this. If we feel like we can help them to get a new roof through their insurance company, then we let them know. We help them file a claim," she said. "The only reason we do it is if we can help bill, then we want to do the work. And all that is stated on our paperwork."
We asked her about the fine print.
"There's nothing hidden," she said. "People often want to get estimates and stuff like that, after we get them their money. They think they don't need us anymore. They want to see what they can do on their own. When they sign our form, it simply states that if we help them to get approved that we are authorized to do the work."
We asked her what she would say to people who are not aware they are signing an agreement.
"We just, I guess, need to get better on our end explaining," she said. "If they don't want us to do the work after we spend time and money and effort into getting them approved, then all they have to do is a minimum of $1000 to opt out of the contract."
She maintained the company is not trying to deceive.
"I don't know what else to say other than we are out there in good faith, trying to help them," she said.
WHNT News 19 also talked to Marshall England, a State Farm agent, who said one of his clients in Madison was also involved with Pro-Roofing. He said the roofer solicited business from his client at his doorstep. His client's contract looks slightly different than Cardwell's, and the word "contract" is visible at the top.
But England said he is skeptical of the way this company is handling its business with his client.
"They obligated my policy holder to use them and only them for the roof installation. Which is pretty uncommon for most reputable roofers to use that approach," he stated. He added that the up-front payments are "not the norm" either.
England said that people who have insurance do not need a third party like Pro-Roofing to negotiate with adjustors and the insurance company for them.
"It's a pretty straightforward, seamless process," he said of filing a claim. "Usually, they initiate it here at an agent's office or with the company either online or with a toll-free number. No charge."
England advises consumers against using door-to-door solicitors, but does recommend making sure vendors are local and licensed. Multiple estimates are also important, he said.
The Better Business Bureau of North Alabama President and CEO, Elizabeth Garcia, offers this list of tips for anyone looking for a contractor:
- Stick with established companies
- Research what companies you are interested in, and search for complaints
- Ask for references
- Check with the company for licenses
- Make sure they have the required insurance
- Be careful when signing anything