KODAK, Tenn. (WATE) - East Tennessee police and sheriff's deputies are reporting out-of-state paving companies have come to the area. Many travel here during the spring season and go door-to-door soliciting business.
The typical driveway sales pitch goes something like this: "We're in the area doing some work, have some leftover paving material, and we can give you a bargain."
Investigators say these types of companies are often from out of state, offer no business credentials, and will likely inflate the original price after the work is done.
The driveway in front of Sue and Daniel's home in Kodak is a big disappointment for them. The couple did not want their last names published.
"Everywhere a tire hits and you have to turn your wheel, it digs it up," said Sue.
She expected blacktop, but ended up with a lot of rock and dirt. Daniel said pavers showed up uninvited in early March.
"They knocked on the door. They said they had leftover black top from a job. It was commercial grade. Well, he was just going to do the curved area where water held for $500," said Sue.
"We thought it was a godsend that they were here because we had been wanting to do this for quite some time," said Daniel.
At first the couple only requested the curved part of their driveway be repaired, but then decided to expand the job.
"We agreed to it. I went to the bank to get money. I called, we discussed it and decided to go from the back door down and they were going to do it for $2,000," Sue said.
When she returned with cash, Sue said the entire driveway had been filled in and she owed more money.
"He wanted to know if I had $9,000," she said. "I went, 'No!'"
"Right then we looked at each other and said, 'Why does it keep escalating?'" said Daniel.
The contracting company was N. Stanley Paving from Dalton, Pennsylvania, about 650 miles north of Sevier County.
Daniel said the guy in charge then started to negotiate a lower price. The final contract called for $2,000 in cash and $5,000 to be paid by credit card. Reluctantly, Sue handed them her card.
"They held it up and took a picture of both sides," said Sue. "And they were on the phone talking to somebody, somewhere else, to make sure it went through."
The couple said they were told the driveway is guaranteed for five years and that the surface would take a little time to pack down.
"They assured me that this would harden up to a point, where it would be like asphalt. It wouldn't be black," said Daniel.
WATE 6 On Your Side's investigation led to a local motel. The man inside the room from the paving company didn't want to talk. So, we called the company's business phone in Pennsylvania. Nick Stanley said his workers installed blacktop millings, which is former asphalt crushed into gravel. He said the millings will take time to pack or harden.
Stanley said he guarantees his work, said he's done nothing wrong, doesn't run from problems, and wants only happy customers.
"A gentleman named Nick called and asked what it would take for me to be satisfied," said Sue.
Sue called her credit card company to dispute the $5,000 charge.
"They had stopped the payment or reversed it, however they take care of that," she said.
The Sevier County Sheriff's Office says out of state paving companies travel to East Tennessee at this time of the year. Investigators recommend doing business with local paving companies, to insist on a firm price, and a signed contract before work begins.
"We figured we'd be the last people that would, because we are aware of it, that would be scammed," said Daniel.
Sue says she's learned a lesson about door-to-door salesmen, and she hopes the driveway, which is already loosening, holds up at least for a few years.
Stanley maintains his company did nothing wrong and that the couple agreed to the deal. He said his crew returned to Pennsylvania after the weather turned wet.
It was smart that Sue and Daniel paid $5,000 with a credit card because it offers more protection than debit or cash. If a business demands a check, it should be made out to the company, rather than an individual.
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