CLEVELAND — Bowling alleys are meant to be fun, but one local man who owns some lanes isn't having that this summer. He hired a man to fix his roof and, so far, he's out thousands of dollars. 5 On Your Side Investigators are rolling out the owner's warning for you.
"Flat roofs are just notorious for leaks,” said Bob Lance, who owns Alpa Lanes in Uhrichsville.
Unfortunately, he owns the roof on top of it too.
"This down through here, I've replaced all this,” Lance pointed out as he gave a rooftop tour.
It became too big of a project for Lance to fix, so he hired Clayton Smith from Canton.
"He seemed legit on the internet,” Lance said. “He had all the credentials. He had pictures of roofs that they've worked on."
Lance said he also hired Smith to do a roof on another building he owns at the same time. Lance said Smith gave him estimates totaling $25,000.
"It seemed like a good deal,” Lance said. “It wasn't like it was too good to be true. It was still expensive."
Smith told Lance to pay half up front for work on both roofs. So, Lance plopped down $12,500.
Smith's crew put down white layers of coating along the leaky cracks. Lance said Smith then promised to return and finish the job with sealants. However, that was months ago.
"I've talked to him numerous times and he won't really give me an answer,” Lance said.
Lance showed News 5 problem areas on the roof of the bowling alley and water collecting in various spots. Even with the white coating, there are numerous cracks still coming through, and leaking remains an issue.
"I'll text [Smith] and call him and he'll never answer me,” Lance said.
News 5 tracked down Smith’s last known address in Canton, stopped by a couple times and put a note on the door. We’ve also made several calls, but Smith never returned our messages.
There are complaints against Smith on the website RipoffReport.com. One person wrote "I never got a refund" after paying half upfront on a $1,900 job. Another person wrote he was "out a deposit" after Smith "did not show up." A third person said, "…they did not return the $8,500.00 deposit paid in advance."
As for Lance at the bowling ally, he's hitting the reset button. "I've already taken money out of my home equity loan and paid to have the other job done that I gave him money for," he said.
It's a lesson that strikes at the heart of why Lance is coming forward— it’s an effort to spare you from headaches, too.
"Obviously, I'm going to be a lot more careful on who I hire and how I pay them,” Lance said.
Lance said he's talked with a couple of people in law enforcement who say this is a civil matter and not a criminal offense. Lance doesn't see it that way.
This story came from a tip to our 5 On Your Side Investigators. If you have a story idea, email us at Investigatortips@wews.com.