PALM HARBOR, Fla. — We hear the warnings year-round in Florida: Plan ahead to prepare for hurricane season. One Palm Harbor woman did the right thing and did just that.

Christine Bohner hired a contractor to replace her storm windows in April. She signed a contract with Douglas Hendricks, the owner of Gulfside Carpentry LLC. Bohner also did her homework. Hendricks is licensed with Pinellas county, insured and his business is registered with the state.

She thought she was ahead of the game and knew her home would be safe if a storm blew through.

"Stuff will fly right through these windows! And you know what, it could kill us,” Bohner told 10Investigates’Courtney Robinson.

The cost to secure her home windows was $10,235. That price included pulling the required permits and getting rid of the old windows by mid-June.

“I went on the BBB to see if he had any complaints, and I just checked anything that I could find on Google and I couldn’t find any complaints -- so I thought I did my due diligence and that he was a stand-up business and that’s why we signed the contract and went with him,” Bohner said.

She gave him 50 percent up front, writing a check for $5,117.50. Bohner says that is when things changed.

She says she texted Hendricks for a status update and didn’t get a response.

By law, because Hendricks took more than 10 percent of the job cost up front, he had to apply for a permit to put in the windows within 30 days. Pinellas County says he never did. He was also required to start work within 90 days.

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Nearly 150 days later, Bohner says she still had no windows. She decided to Turn to 10 for help.

And 10Investigates called Hendricks to get answers.

“I feel sick to my stomach because this is not how I operate I don’t do it that’s not how I operate, Hendricks told 10Investigates over the phone.

Hendricks explained his wife’s recent death and other family issues took over and said he wanted to make it right. And, he did: Less than an hour after our call, Hendricks showed up at Bohner's door with cash in hand.

He even offered an in-person apology to Bohner.

“I’ve been doing business for 30 years and since this went down, I’ve had nothing but nightmares," Hendricks said. "I don’t want to do that I don’t want to make an excuse. I’m just honestly I’m sincerely sorry and there’s nothing more I can say.”

Bohner did file a complaint and the Pinellas County Consumer Protection Division is now investigating.

The Better Business Bureau says there are a few things you can do to protect yourself in cases where you’re dealing with a contractor with a good record but things have gone south.

  1. Ask for current and recent references. At least the last three jobs they did.
  2. The BBB recommends not paying more than 10 percent up front and use a credit card for that.
  3. If something happens, file a complaint with the consumer protection division and the BBB so there’s a track record for others.

You can visit the BBB website here to make a complaint: https://www.bbb.org/consumer-complaints/file-a-complaint/get-started

Do you have a consumer concern? Want us to look into something for you? If you do, you need to turn to 10!

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