Complaints pile up against unlicensed landscaper

Posted at 8:05 PM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-17 20:35:41-05

The Arizona Registrar of Contractors says it has issued a Cease and Desist order against the owners of a landscaping company it believes has been contracting without a license.

The agency says it had been investigating a Peoria resident's complaint "of poor work and allegations that the James’ were non-responsive."

A different customer, Michelle Fleming, tells me she's been trying to get her $2,750 deposit from Arizona Landscaping LLC since September 2015.

She hired the company to do her front and back yards.  

"They kept rescheduling, and, rescheduling and rescheduling."

Eventually she says they stopped calling at all.

"My husband told them we were thinking about calling the attorney general," Michelle says. "The owner of the company started freaking out and screaming and she canceled the contract on us."

State records show Arizona Landscaping LLC is owned by Marc and Jennifer James.

Michelle says Jennifer agreed to refund her deposit. More than a week later, she received a check.

"I couldn't cash it because it was postdated."

Michelle says she emailed to ask for a properly dated check.

She got a response but says she never got another check.  So she attempted to cash the check again--this time on the date written.  Michelle says that made no difference. "She (the bank teller) reads something on the screen, tells me that she can't cash my check."

After hiring a different landscaper, Michelle started looking further into Landscaping Arizona LLC.

She was shocked by what she found.

"Their ROC number is absolutely positively no good," she says.

The Landscaping Arizona LLC license expired in 2011, years before Michelle hired them.

Today their website is gone.

But we found a new site for a company called Stone Landscape Creations LLC, which is using the same old expired license number.  State record records show Marc and Jennifer James as the owners.

We know the names well because the couple used to another business called Last Call Install.

In 2013 we were contacted by a familythat was having a tough time getting that company to fix drainage issues after a San Tan Valley landscaping job.

Last Call Install did not complete the ROC directive to fix the problems and had a hearing.  The ROC revoked the company's license in July 2014.

Michelle says Jennifer and Marc stopped returning her calls and emails so she let me know.

We got no response either and with all the different companies and missing deposits, we needed some clarity.

We caught up with Marc James outside of his listed business address and asked about the refund and the expired license.

He didn't have any comment about that, but his wife did because she finally called us back.

Jennifer was apologetic and explained that she didn't know unlicensed contractors couldn't do work over $1,000.

She blamed delays on Michelle's project on bad weather and having to finish another job.

And says the company didn't have the money to refund Michelle's deposit at the time of the cancelation because materials had already been purchased.

Jennifer says they have the money now and vowed to hand-deliver her refund.

Michelle says she's heard that before, and she's not holding her breath.  But hopes someone can learn from her experience.

"There's gotta be one more person out there that maybe that information can help and save them from losing thousands," Michelle says.

Update 2/17/16:

Just a few days after our story aired, Michelle let me know that Jennifer James made good on her promise to pay. She says she received a cashier's check for the full amount of her deposit, and this time it cleared with no problem.

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