Hiring help in Florida can be tricky, especially when trying to figure out who needs to have a license to do the work.
A Bonita Springs woman says she learned this the hard way.
Kathy Fitzmaurice hired a man to install a pool cage only to find out he was not properly licensed.
“The guy seemed legit,” she said. “He seemed like he knew what he was talking about, like he’d done this before.”
She called Andrew Edge of Andrew Edge Rescreening and Maintenance to screen in her pool. She said he came out to her home to measure and give her an estimate. Her father gave him a check for more than $3,000 and signed an invoice. After that, she said Mr. Edge never returned.
“He never came back,” she said. “Never brought materials.”
For the past two months, Fitzmaurice says she and Edge have exchanged text messages. He promises to meet her, to bring her the money, but she says he never shows up.
WINK News called and emailed Edge multiple times to find out where the money is, but have never heard back from him.
“It’s just one lie after another,” Fitzmaurice said.
Edge doesn’t have a website. We also couldn’t find his company on Facebook, or the Better Business Bureau. He also has no Google reviews. He now has two complaints filed against him with the Attorney Generals’ office and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, both submitted by Fitzmaurice.
“I’ve just taken every step a consumer can take to rectify the situation,” Fitzmaurice said.
DBPR says Edge doesn’t have a license with them and you need one to build pool enclosures. You do not need one to just fix screens, however.
He is also not registered as a contractor in Lee County. The county told WINK they do not have any complaints against him, but if they did, and they found him in the act of performing without a license, a stop-work order would be posted. His first offense would be a written warning and the second would be a citation of up to $500.
With no charges against him, and no pool screen, Fitzmaurice said she’s frustrated and wants to make sure you know to do your homework before hiring a contractor.
“I’m not asking him to finish the screen,” she said. “I don’t want him to do that. I just want him to refund the money.”
The Attorney General’s office confirms after Kathy’s complaint was filed, someone with the office’s Citizen Services Division reached out and was able to help facilitate an informal agreement between her and Edge. Kathy says she agreed to have Edge repay $1000 a week for three weeks, followed by the final payment of just over $600. Just hours before our story aired, Kathy said she received her first repayment. Edge has not returned our calls or emails.
If you’re looking to hire a contractor, the Better Business Bureau says to do your research. Read reviews, verify the company is licensed and insured and has the right building permits. Get everything in writing. Set up payment plans and never pay in full upfront or with cash because that’s money you cannot get back.