Couple sues handyman company for never starting job

Published: August 31, 2021 4:22 PM EDT
Updated: September 1, 2021 6:25 PM EDT

Home repairs and remodels are a hot ticket right now but what happens when you pay and the work doesn’t get done?

One couple in Cape Coral decided to take their handyman to court after it happened to them.

The Trans sued Dwayne Staron of Dwayne’s Handyman Services for $8,000, one $1,000 less than what they paid to have their house remodeled.

Phong Tran wanted to remodel their kitchen, repipe the entire house and change out some doors and windows. But that didn’t happen, Tran said.

During a pretrial hearing on Wednesday, Staron said he wants to go to trial. There is a pretrial hearing scheduled on Wednesday for the Tran family’s lawsuit against the company.

The Tran family hired Dwayne’s Handyman Services.

Dwayne Staron is a handyman, not a licensed contractor, according to Cape Coral police.

According to ProPublica, a non-profit, journalistic watchdog, Dwayne Staron got two PPP loans of about $4,500 each to help his business survive the pandemic.

The Tran family paid him half, $9,000, upfront before any of the work was done.

The Cape Coral Police Department said only licensed contractors are allowed to move electrical, plumbing or knock down a wall, not handymen.

“So much for taking vacations here in the summers,” Tran said. “They are pretty good at not fulfilling their contracts and not fulfilling promises. And as people, I would say they’re not good people.”

Tran said no one working for Dwayne’s Handyman Services picked up a hammer.

“I felt like they were leading us on just to kind of delay things,” Tran said. “But the text messages go back-and-forth and eventually they just stopped.”

Now the family is out the money and they’ve had to hire another company.

“We are pretty trusting people and it’s unfortunate that things like this happen and now we don’t trust people as much,” Tran said.

The same thing happened to Lehigh Acres resident Susan Hofmann.

Hofmann said she paid the company $4,000 and they didn’t get the job done.

“It was still nowhere near done and now there was extra damage done and I was just really upset,” Hofmann said.

Hofmann said some work was done, but it was terrible.

“They painted the big room inside of the house, the living room, the main area and they painted all over the floors,” Hofmann said.

Hofmann kept some of the company’s tools. Eventually, the owner called authorities on her.

“It’s really mind-boggling, and it really infuriated me because they were allowed to destroy my property and steal money from me but I was not allowed to lock them out and keep tools that were worth less than $300,” Hofmann said. “It’s just felt really unfair.”

Reviews on Yelp, Facebook groups and other review sites now mirror the experiences of Hoffman and the Trans.

“I am just disgusted with them,” Hofmann said. “They portray themselves as these upright citizens and these great Americans. They don’t show any signs of being the good American citizens that they talk about.”

When WINK News texted, emailed and called Staron asking for his side of the story.

He hung up the phone call and there was no response.

Neither Hofmann or the Trans think they will ever see their money again.

Instead, they hope payment comes in the form of no one hiring Dwayne’s Handyman Services again.

“It’s just very sad and people like that need to be stopped,” Hofmann said.

“If this didn’t happen to anyone else that would be enough for us,” Tran said.

Trial is set for Oct. 5.

If you’re thinking of hiring a contractor or handyman, make sure they are properly licensed, get everything in writing and don’t pay in full upfront. Instead, create a schedule of payments based on what work gets done.

And before hiring someone, ask for references.

To check for licensing, visit the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

You can also verify a company’s registration through Sunbiz.