Paving company sued over bait and switch, shoddy work, state says

New Jersey Attorney General's office is accusing a South Jersey paving company of breaking its consumer fraud laws by allegedly using bait-and-switch pricing, not honoring warranties and doing substandard work.

In announcing the lawsuit, Attorney General Paula T. Dow said in a statement that: "customers typically paid thousands of dollars to have their driveways paved, and soon experienced cracking, disintegration or formation of holes." The state is seeking restitution and penalties as part of the lawsuit.

The state alleges that Williams Asphalt Materials LLC, which has three New Jersey locations, says company workers would typically drive up to houses and tell homeowners that they had just completed a paving job in the area, had leftover paving material and could offer a discount on driveway paving. Workers would complete the paving job in a day and also did work at night -- when customers couldn't inspect the work until the following morning, the state says.

When the driveways showed problems after the paving like cracking, holes, erosion and crumbling, the company allegedly didn't respond to customer requests for repairs or refunds, the state says. In all, 47 complaints were received about the paving company.Williams Asphalt is also known as Williams Asphalt Paving, Williams Asphalt Paving & Excavating, Williams Paving & Excavating, Williams Paving and Williams Paving Asphalt Contracting. New Jersey home improvement contractors registration records show that Henry Williams of Flanders, N.J. is the company's owner. Williams could not be reached for comment, despite calls to his business and home phones.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission says to keep watch for some telltale signs before you get hammered by a home contractor including if the worker shows up on your doorstep telling you there's materials left over from a previous job. Don't be intimidated if the contractor wants you to pay for the entire job up-front and only accepts cash payments. Doing something as simple as looking up the contractor in the local telephone directory can give you a clue if the contractor is legit.

When you're looking to hire a home improvement contractor, ask how long the contractor has been in business and if the contractor is registered with the state -- although only 36 states have licensing and regulation rules for remodelers and specialty contractors, the FTC says. Licensing can vary from one place to another, so be sure to find out what the requirements are for where you live.

Get references and check them. You can also enlist the help of the local Better Business Bureau, which recommends inspecting previous work the contractor has done before you hire them.

Check out this story for more advice on hiring home contractors.
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