Pa. AG Nails Contractor in Home Improvement Case

April 29, 2005

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett has filed a civil lawsuit against the owner of a Lehigh County window and siding company accused of defrauding consumers by cashing their deposits for contracted work without completing the jobs and illegally contacting homeowners on the state’s “do not call” list to sell his home improvement services.

The lawsuit follows an investigation into complaints from 35 consumers located in Bucks, Carbon, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton counties. Approximately 13 complaints were related to the defendant’s home improvement business. The remaining 22 complaints involved alleged violations of the state’s “do not call” law.

Corbett identified the defendants as Robert J. Dicataldo, of New Tripoli, Lehigh County, and his company Vinylguard Windows and Siding Company, 6302 Route 309, New Tripoli. The defendants are accused of violating Pennsylvania’s Consumer Protection Law and Telemarketer Registration Act.

Investigators with Corbett’s Bureau of Consumer Protection said Dicataldo, through 2004, would “cold” call homeowners in Bucks, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton counties as a way to sell his vinyl window and siding installation services.

The lawsuit claims that the defendant engaged in an illegal telemarketing campaign by contacting consumers without first purchasing the state’s “no call” list as required by law.

The Bureau investigated complaints from consumers who said they were contacted illegally and issued the defendant a warning letter that required him to immediately cease telemarketing in violation of Pennsylvania’s “no call” law or face legal action.

The Commonwealth claims that despite the warning, the defendant continued to call the homes of consumers who properly placed their names and telephone numbers on the state’s “no call” registry.

Corbett said the defendant is also accused of accepting substantial deposits from consumers for vinyl window and siding installation without completing the work or returning to correct problems consumers had with the finished product.

“Mr. Dicataldo has ignored the Commonwealth’s warning and consumers’ repeated requests to either do the contracted work or return their money,” Corbett said. “In our view, the defendant should not be allowed to continue his current business practices. We’re seeking various penalties including the immediate forfeiture of his right to conduct business in the state.”

In one consumer complaint, a Lehigh County woman in 2004 claimed that she paid the defendant more then $3,200 to have new windows and a door installed in her home. She said after lengthy delays and excuses, including false claims that the manufacturer was on strike, the defendant ordered the wrong bay window and installed the other windows without insulation, causing significant draft problems in her home. She said the defendant failed to adequately correct the problem. In addition, she claimed to have contacted the door manufacturer and learned that the defendant never ordered the door as promised.

In another consumer complaint, the defendant was called back to the home of a Lehigh County couple who claimed that several fascia pieces installed by Dicataldo came off the home during a storm. The homeowners said they contacted the defendant several times to make the repairs. When he finally did respond, Dicataldo reattached the wrong color fascia and has not yet returned to the home to correct the problem.

Dicataldo is also accused of failing to inform consumers of their three-day legal right to cancel and failed to provide the separate notice of cancellation as required by state law.

The lawsuit asks the court to require the defendant to:

– Pay full restitution to consumers who filed complaints with the Bureau of Consumer Protection, plus pay full restitution to those who come forward with proof of similar harm.

– Pay a civil penalty of $1,000 per violation and $3,000 per violation if the victim is age 60 or older.

– Pay the Commonwealth’s investigation costs.

– Forfeit his right to conduct business in the state pending payment of consumer restitution, civil penalties and costs.

– Relinquish or forfeit all profits that were derived as a result of his illegal business practices.

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