CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) —Linda Box says say paid in full for a cover for her hot tub last May. She says she only got excuses, then the company stopped answering the phone. Now, their website is down.
“It’s $400 bucks,” Box said. “I need to have a cover on the hot tub. We can’t use it. We can’t open it up. I’m sure it’s a mess in there now. I paid in full in good faith. I should be able to have my hot tub cover.”
Box isn’t alone. Florida’s Attorney General, Ashley Moody has sued Affordable Spa Covers and another company, Coverlex, which is listed at the same Clearwater address. Both companies are owned by Alejandro Flores-Ramirez, of Clearwater who is a named defendant in the lawsuit.
Moody says she wants to make sure the defendants never sell or manufacture spa or hot tub covers in the state again. She’s also seeking penalties to help pay back consumers.
According to the lawsuit, Moody has received more than 350 complaints against the businesses, and customers paid more than $90,000 for products that were never received, were damaged or were delivered months after they were promised.
In the lawsuit, Moody alleges the company misled consumers by advertising “fake fast” delivery and charging extra fees for expedited shipping.
“Consumers expected prompt delivery and excellent service due to representations made by Affordable Spa Covers and Coverlex, yet often received their orders months later than expected — if the orders arrived at all,” Moody said.
Better Call Behnken attempted to reach Flores-Ramirez at the business and by a cell phone number listed for him. No one answered the business door, even though there were several cars in the parking lot. The cell phone and office phone is disconnected.
A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office sent this statement:
Our litigation against Affordable Spas is ongoing. Consumers who have not received the items purchased may file a complaint with our office on our website at myfloridalegal.com and may also consider reaching out their credit card company to pursue a chargeback if appropriate.
Below are some tips to help consumers avoid contractor scams:
- Ask trusted family and friends for contractor recommendations;
- Check out pool and spa builders’ websites and portfolio, if the website is basic stock images it might be a scam;
- Get multiple estimates;
- Read contract carefully; and
- Don’t pay the full amount for the project upfront.