Businessman gives boot, then charges at WKYC's Investigator

Businessman gives boot, charges after WKYC investigator

CLEVELAND - All they wanted were fences. All they got were excuses.

Customer after customer echoed the same complaint.

“I called and called for a year and a half and got one excuse after another,” said Westlake resident Terry Malloy.

And when the excuses ended, tempers flared.

“He exploded and blew up and he was cussing and swearing.,‘Get the F out of my office,’” said Brunswick resident Bob Szwagulak.

Others had to take their case to court, just to get a refund for a fence never built.

“My heart stopped. I knew we were in trouble,” said Tim Ali, a local developer, who sued the company.

All three customers shared the same fencing contractor - Matthew McMillen, owner of Budget One Fence of Cleveland.

Their stories reveal instances of poor construction or, in some cases, no construction at all.

It’s one reason why Budget One Fence has 30 complaints and an F rating with the local Better Business Bureau. There’s also eight more consumer complaints filed with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and dozens of others on Google Reviews and other internet consumer sites.

Changes to the company’s name, as noted in state records, have not stemmed the tide of negative reviews.

“This didn’t just happen to me,” said Ali.

Ali hired Budget One Fence earlier this year and paid a $3,000 deposit. He then waited. And waited. And waited. Nothing. No fence, just excuses. Ali then researched the company.

"I knew we were in trouble,” Ali said. “I knew that it was a pattern. It went on for years and I knew that I was not going to see my fence or my money."

McMillen, he said, refunded $400 and promised the remaining $2,600 later. That was the same day Ali sued the company in Berea Municipal Court.

 At trial, Ali reluctantly agreed to accept another $2,000.

“I’m out $600,” he said. “I’m very unhappy. It’s sad.”

Malloy’s troubles lasted about 18 months. A gate installed by Budget One Fence never worked.

“For a while, I just used a bungee cord,” she said.

Like other customers, she said the company offered only excuses for 18 months.

"Well, the salesman died. And then she said the owner's wife was ill and dying and another time I called and the wife had died," Malloy said.

The Malloys eventually fixed the fence themselves and then filed a complaint with the BBB.

Szwagulak is president of his condo association and the group hired Budget One Fence four years ago. The job was massive -- about $25,000 for 48 patio fences. The condo association put down about $12,000.

 And then they waited.

 And waited.

Finally, after months of excuses and barely any work performed, he and a neighbor visited McMillen’s offices in Cleveland. He fired the company. And, he recalls, McMillen’s rage came out.

"When we left [my neighbor] and I were both shaking, like my God, this guy is crazy,” he said. “{McMillen] just blew up and exploded…"

McMillen has only repaid a portion of the down payment, a few hundred dollars a year, Szwagulak said. The condo association, he said, is still owed $5,000.

The temper he witnessed was on display this week when the Investigator Tom Meyer visited the company to get their side of the story. Stephanie Reed, McMillen’s partner, ordered Meyer to leave. But as Meyer was leaving, McMillen stormed outside and aggressively approached the reporter.

No punches were thrown.

Court records show McMillen has a history of displaying his temper. He has past misdemeanor convictions for aggravated menacing, criminal trespassing and three guilty findings for disorderly conduct.

To research a company, call the BBB Cleveland office’s 24-hour hotline at 216-241-7678 or visit their website https://www.bbb.org/cleveland/.

To file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office, call 800-282-0515 or visit .http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/consumercomplaint.

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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