APOPKA,Fla. - Action 9 investigates a local contractor with a history of taking deposits then walking away from the job. An Apopka man claims he's the latest victim.
Mark Harchar didn't expect to see a yard of dirt after paying nearly $2,000 for a new lawn. But he said that's what he got after finding a landscaper on Craigslist.
" I feel he's stolen from me, and ultimately all I wanted was grass on my front lawn," he said.
Harchar said he first hired Richard Barnes of Affordable Tree Service and Landscaping to trim trees and he paid after it was done.
So, Harchar said he felt comfortable hiring Barnes to re-sod the lawn and paid nearly $2,000 upfront. Part of that was paid with an $1,100 check. The check was cashed more than two months ago. According to the customer, he never saw Barnes again.
Action 9 found out the day Barnes took the money he was already serving probation and wearing a court ordered GPS bracelet. He pleaded to grand theft in 2009, and again in 2010 for taking cash and then not doing the job, WFTV learned.
Now Harchar said he's been demanding answers since July.
"Promising to show up the next day, he wouldn't show up the next day, days on end, weeks on end," said Harchar.
Affordable Landscaping has an "F" rating at the BBB, and seven unanswered complaints, many from customers who paid deposits.
"The theme here is that he asks for money upfront and then he doesn't come back and disappears," said BBB president Judy Pepper.
WFTV could not find Barnes at home. Later by phone he denied doing anything wrong, and said he had been paid to trim the trees only but now has promised to give Harchar a full refund.
"I don't want to see someone else have to deal with this," said Harchar.
Barnes also claimed he had a contract proving he was only paid to trim trees. WFTV asked to see it, but he declined to show it.