Customers upset over incomplete work

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 27, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY — An 86-year-old Salisbury woman and four other people say they paid thousands to a Mocksville man for plumbing services that were never completed.
Lorene Trexler, who lives off of Magnolia Circle in Salisbury, said she thought she was getting a “wonderful” deal on Aug. 1 when she called Hodges Plumbing and Restoration after a pipe under her kitchen sink began to leak.
A flier for the plumbing service had recently been stuck in her door, and said “don’t let a small leak become a big problem.”
But problems developed for Trexler after she said John Hodges, the owner of Hodges Plumbing, began working on the home’s plumbing and the bill began to grow as the projects multiplied. Hodges eventually stopped coming or responding to calls after Trexler and her son had paid him $19,500 for the remodeling work and plumbing work.
“He said he was putting in a new shower door. He was going to put in new hold bars,” Trexler said. “All this stuff would be so updated, so convenient for me, to keep me from going into a nursing home.”
Trexler said she hasn’t had a shower in almost two months and — because of health conditions — can’t get into the bath tub. She said she has to use water from her sink for bathing, while she pays more money to have another plumber finish the work on the shower and the piping.
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Trexler isn’t the only person accusing Hodges of taking payment for plumbing services unrendered.
Cecil Hutchinson of Salisbury and Martha Edwards of Davie County are both separately suing Hodges for work that they say was never completed. Edwards is suing for a contract in Brunswick County. Hutchinson is suing in Rowan County.
Both declined to comment on Tuesday because of the pending cases.
Hodges Plumbing and Restoration has an F-rating with the Better Business Bureau, with three complaints. The reasons for the rating include: failing to respond to the three complaints filed against the business; insufficient information to determine how long the business has been operating; and insufficient background information about the business.
The BBB file for the business was started Feb. 12, 2009.
The BBB also lists Hodges Plumbing and Restoration as having alternative names of John Boy’s Services and JB’s Handyman Services.
The number listed for Hodges’ business by the BBB was a non-working number. A Post reporter went to Hodges’ home at 434 Gladstone Road in Mocksville on Tuesday, but, despite audible movement within the home, no one answered the door.
Hodges’ former coworker, Wayne Roseman, spoke to a Post reporter at William and Linda Thompson’s home, just outside of Cleveland, on Tuesday.
Roseman acknowledged working on Trexler’s plumbing without a license, but he said he was working for Hodges at the time.
“I worked and did what he told me to do,” Roseman said.
Roseman said little more about his experience with Hodges, but said, “He was like anybody else.”
“He’d go get jobs and tell me where it was at,” Roseman said.
After working for Hodges for about a year, Roseman said he recently left the job to start his own home-repair business.
Hodges is not listed in the North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors’ online database.
“He seemed like he was having a lot of problems,” Roseman said.
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Trexler, like others, said Hodges came back just two days after getting more than $1,000 to fix the plumbing on Aug. 1 and told her he had found more issues with the home and needed additional payment.
Hodges told Trexler the floor of her home was wet and rotting and had to be repaired, along with various other remodeling suggestions to help the 86-year-old get around the home.
Trexler has now turned to contractor John Foster, who visited the home on Monday, to finish the work. Foster said there was “no sign of rotting at all.”
Foster said all the copper pipes had been removed and replaced with plastic piping, but that there were still inspection issues with the plumbing under the home.
“It’s about half-satisfactory,” he said. “I’ve dealt with a lot of problems with water damage. This isn’t one of them.”
Trexler said Hodges told her he was going to take out the home’s copper piping, which he then sold. She said he was supposed to take the price off her bill, which continued to increase.
Foster said the home’s plumbing issues could have been fixed for about $1,200.
“That’s on the high side,” he added.
After getting about $8,000 from her, Trexler said, Hodges went to her son’s Thomasville home and told him the upgrades to the home were necessary and the work would keep her out of a nursing home.
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Linda Thompson said she hired Hodges for a home project and liked that he insisted on being an “honest family man” who was in need of work.
“When someone is down on their luck, I just want to help them — especially when they have children,” Thompson said. “He said he would do you right.”
Thompson, 70, said she initially gave Hodges $3,400 for the project, but he asked for an additional $5,000 two days later, which she did not give him.
The Thompsons said they paid $4,200 to Hodges before hiring Roseman separately to finish the job.
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246 or