State bans couple from doing business
Published 2:20 pm Thursday, November 17, 2016
RALEIGH — A couple who charged consumers in Charlotte and the Triad hundreds of dollars for appliance repairs they never finished is now banned from business, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
“Taking upfront fees without completing repairs is no way to do business,” Cooper said. “Look into a repair company’s background before you hire them, and never pay the total cost upfront.”
At the request of the Consumer Protection Division, Wake County Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour this week approved a court order against Crystal Spear and Ronnie Griffin, formerly of Lexington, for collecting payments from consumers to repair appliances and then refusing to complete the work or return the money. This extends a temporary ban on Spear and Griffin operating in the state while the lawsuit against them goes forward.
Under the preliminary injunction issued by the court, the defendants are currently banned from:
- Accepting payments from consumers for appliance repairs or parts;
- Advertising, offering, or entering into contracts for any product or service;
- Destroying, hiding or transferring any records or assets.
The defendants are also required to turn over their financial records and a list of consumers they did business with by Nov. 24.
An investigation conducted by Cooper’s office revealed that Spear and Griffin advertised online offering estimates on home appliance repairs, then charged consumers as much as $520 for repair work they only pretended to complete. The defendants insisted on being paid by cash or check made out to them individually.
According to consumers who complained, Spear and Griffin refused to refund consumers’ money and left them with appliances that were still broken. In a lawsuit filed last month, Cooper asked the court to cancel all contracts the defendants entered into with consumers and to order them to pay refunds to consumers as well as civil penalties to the state.
The appliance repair scheme targeted consumers in Alamance, Davidson, Forsyth, Gaston, Guilford, Iredell, Mecklenburg and Randolph counties. Since filing suit, the Attorney General’s Office has learned that Spear and Griffin have recently been active in another part of the country.
The Consumer Protection Division believes the defendants each used multiple names, including Crystal Hope Spear, Ronnie Allen Griffin, Allen Griffin, Ronnie Spear and Allen Spears, and operated their business under the following names: NC Appliance Repair, Piedmont Appliance Repair, NC Service Center, Charlotte Appliance Repair, Service Today, Service X-perts, Service Experts, Gastonia Appliance Repair, Home Pros, and A+ Home Services.
A total of 37 consumers have complained to the Consumer Protection Division or their local Better Business Bureau about Spear and Griffin.
To avoid problems when hiring help for repairs:
- Never pay upfront for repairs. Make sure you’re satisfied with the work before paying the total balance.
- Be wary of any company who requires you to pay by cash or check. If you do pay by check, make it out to the company, not an individual.
- Get a written contract that lists the necessary repairs, the cost, and date of completion.
- Research repair companies before you hire one. Ask friends, family members and neighbors for their recommendations. Look at online reviews and check with our office and your localBetter Business Bureau to see if other consumers have complained about a company.
To check out an appliance repair company or file a consumer complaint against one, call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina or visit ncdoj.gov.