A heating and air contractor in Madisonville has been charged with theft. Deputies picked him up following a complaint from a customer last month.
The customer got tired of waiting for the contractor to start the job. The contractor had been paid a couple thousand dollars in advance, which he required, to repair a heat and air unit. When he didn’t show on the appointed day, his customer sent text messages about the delay. Then there were more delays.
When the work never started, the customer called the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, and it turned out they had been looking for him.
Shortly after Melissa Dale’s old heat pump quit she contacted James Miller, a local Madisonville repairman, in February.
“He told me the compressor had gone out,” said Dale.
Miller told Dale it would cost a little more than $2,000 to buy a compressor and fix the unit. Dale paid $2,050 on March 1 in full.
“When the part came in he would call me back. Once I gave him the money, I haven’t seen him since, that’s been over a month,” said Dale.
Inside her home, there’s been no central heat for more than six weeks. Electric space heaters are hooked up and are being used to keep things warm in several rooms.
“I went to Google search and went to “heating and air near me.” He was the first one to pop up,” said Dale.
Dale had several text messages between herself and Miller. He finally gave her a date and time to fix the unit, but didn’t show up.
Fed up with excuses and no repairs, Dale contacted the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy checked the unworkable HVAC unit and also saw the receipt for repairs Miller had given Dale.
“I called an officer out, explained to him what had been going on. They said they’ve had issues with this guy before. Since this was theft over $1,000 they could go get him,” she said.
The booking officer at the sheriff’s department said Miller was picked up on two failure to appear charges – driving on a suspended license and insurance violations – plus, the new charge of theft.
WATE 6 On Your Side called Miller to get his side of the story. After identifying ourselves, we asked if he plans to either finish the job for Dale or refund her money.
He hung up before giving any answer.
The state website for licensed heat and air technicians shows no license listed for James L. Miller nor the business name he gave Dale.
Before hiring any contractor, check the Department of Commerce and Insurance Board of Licensing website to verify proper certification.
“I would recommend doing that because if not, you’d be in the situation I’m in. I’m out $2,050,” said Dale.
Miller was released on bond last week after spending 10 days in jail. Records show he’s scheduled to appear in court on April 14.
The Better Business Bureau keeps tabs on contractors and gives them a rating, depending on how well they respond to customer complaints. They’re a good place to start looking.
Dale says she’s now looking for a new contractor to fix her heat and air unit.