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Customers have issues with businesses after pricy deposits

Posted at 5:00 AM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 08:55:46-05

PHOENIX — Putting money down for a future service or product to be delivered later is common, but it can also be risky.

We visited two local businesses that were paid deposits and consumers who say they still have nothing to show for it.

The first involves Janet Diaz and her family who wanted the inside and outside of their house painted.

They hired Joseph E. Jefferson to do it for $6,000 and paid him the $2,500 deposit that he demanded upfront.

But, Janet says Jefferson only painted some gate slats.

Her text messages show that Jefferson made promises to come back, but never did. So, she says she hired another painter and wants a refund but can no longer find Jefferson.

We couldn't find him either at an address linked to him. By phone previously, Jefferson told ABC15 that he intended to finish the work but was prevented to do so. It's something Janet denies.

We found that Jefferson owned Harp Painting and Remodeling LLC in Scottsdale, but couldn't find a contractor's license with the state.

Take a look at the video and if you know where Joseph E Jefferson may be, please let us know at

More than 2,000 miles away in New York City, Tami Treadwell was also having a deposit issue.

Tami is a chef who operates a food trailer near the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Tami wanted to expand her business and bought a food truck from Food Truck Builders of Phoenix.

She paid a $27,500 upfront deposit and would pay the same amount when the truck was prepared for installation or 80% complete.

But Tami says when she flew to Phoenix to make the final payment, she says the truck looked like a shell.

"This wasn't 10% finished, it wasn't 20% finished and it certainly wasn't 80%," said Tami. She refused to make the payment, lost faith in the business and wanted her money back.

But Food Truck Builders of Phoenix would not give her a refund.

We went to the Phoenix business and they said they lived up to their contract and the truck was at the right completion when Tami saw it.

When Tami no longer wanted the truck, they say they sold it and offered to put her deposit towards another truck.

Tami just wants her $27,500 back, which recently became even more important.

She emailed ABC15 saying her trailer's heat source went out, she can't afford to fix it and can't operate on very cold days.

If you've had a similar issue with Food Truck Builders of Phoenix, let us know at

Be very cautious about giving too much money to anyone before getting anything in return.

Here's Food Truck Builders of Phoenix statement:

"We met with Tammi the first part of December and discussed her need for a food truck. In our conversation, she described some hardships she was going through (losing her husband to Covid 19 and Emergency Medical Services not showing up to her house for 12 days after losing her husband). We could never imagine how horrific this was. All of us admitted to tearing up hearing what she had to go through. We wanted to do what we could to help and gave her a significantly reduced price on a food truck. (This truck has a base price of $80,0000.00) She signed our Proforma which specified the deadlines for payments during construction of the truck, and also makes is explicit that there is a no refund policy. Our policy is that there are no refunds after the Proforma is signed and first payment is made. 50% down is due to start customization on each truck we construct. The reason for our no refund policy is that it is very difficult to recoup our costs of a customized truck from another buyer.

We sold the food truck to Tammi for $55,000 plus tax. She paid $2,000 on December 14, 2020, and $25,000 on February 19, 2021. We informed her when the truck was at 80% completion, (this is before plumbing, and equipment are installed). She choose to fly in and personally inspect the truck and pay the balance due. On March 3, 2021, she came to our location to view the truck. She was so excited for the completion and to receive her truck and said she would have the balance of the Proforma sent over to us that day. The next day, on March 4, 2021, she came back to our location with a less than enthusiastic attitude, stating that in her opinion we had not reached 80% completion and insisted we must provide her certain additional items that were not on her Proforma/Invoice. Also, she wanted the truck truck to be completed before she paid her balance. This is not our policy; at 80% completion the balance is due. We have never had any one dispute this before, due to this being explained both verbally and in writing on the invoice/Proforma they sign. To compromise, even though we have never strayed from our Proforma/invoice before, we agreed to provide some of the additional items she requested, even though they were not on her Invoice/Proforma. In return she agreed to pay her balance.

At this point we continued the construction on the truck. We continued the build to try and accommodate some of her additional added requests, On March 25, 2021, the truck was at over 95%

completion within 36 days of her paying the 50% of her balance ($25,000.00) this process is normally estimated at 8-12 weeks depending on availability of materials. We sent an email to Tammi with photos of the truck at over 95% completion, indicating the balance of $33,937.66 was due within 72hrs (3/28/21). We also indicated that this would be the final notice for her to pay the balance. She never paid the balance, and we were left with a highly customized truck having only received less than half of the already reduced sales price. By the end of May the truck was sold to recoup our time, labor, materials, and storage. We did not even recoup even the base sales price of the truck.

We are still willing to build her a different truck as per her original proforma/Invoice but the balance of $33,937.66 must be paid in full.

We appricate your concern in this matter and the opportunity to explain our side of the story.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to email us regarding this matter and we will be happy to answer any additional questions by email.

Thank You,

Food Truck Builders of Phoenix