3 On Your Side

Scottsdale family 'shuttered' by window company

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The Patels put down a deposit of $2,350 -- in cash. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) The Patels put down a deposit of $2,350 -- in cash. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)

Handing money over in advance is a risk consumers take when hiring a contractor. A Scottsdale family took that chance and lost. 

"Right now, we have really old plastic shutters -- some of them actually broken off -- in the other window in the other part of the house, so we thought it's time to get them replaced," Kartik Patel said.

While searching for something to replace their old worn-out blind, Patel said his family focused on a style they really liked.

"We were just going to have these plastic shutters replaced with wood ones, 4-inch panels. Top ones, as well," he said.

The Patels looked around and found a business called Sunset Shutters. They were impressed because Sunset Shutter claims to be an international company with an office in Arizona and a manufacturing facility in Mexico. 

The company also is licensed by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors.

The Patel family checked out photos online, liked what they saw and wound up dealing with a guy named Alvaro Ramirez. 

According to a Yelp profile, Ramirez claims he owns Sunset Shutters. 

"The guy came, measured everything out [and then] came back a few days later, and he had us pay him in cash," Patel said.

The Patels handed over 50 percent of the project, which was $2,350. Remember, it was all in cash. 

That was nearly four months ago, but to this day the Patels still have their old blinds. 

"He was supposed to have everything done by June 15," Patel said. "After we didn't hear from him, we kept calling him. He dodges out calls or make up some excuse and after a couple of months we just had enough of it."

Out nearly $2,400 and frustrated with nothing more than a signature on a piece of paper, the Patels did what they could to find Ramirez. 

"[We] went to his office and the people there were like he left off; he doesn't work here anymore; he disappeared," Patel said.

3 On your Side got involved and discovered one of the business addresses that Ramirez lists is nothing more than an executive suite shared by other unrelated companies. We were told that Ramirez rents a tiny office there to meet with customers. 

He wasn't there the day we went, but 3 On Your Side didn’t stop there. 

There are two addresses listed for Sunset Shutters. When we visited the second one, we learned it's just a place where Sunset Shutters picks up its mail.

That's strange because according to Sunset Shutters' website, that place where Ramirez picks up his mail is listed as the company headquarters and showroom. A mailbox isn't much of a showroom. 

We eventually got Ramirez on the phone. He refused to meet with Gary Harper in person, but he did hear that 3 On Your Side was looking for him and called.

"So they want their money back, and they want it now and I need a date when that's going to happen," Harper told him.

Ramirez repeated over and over that he would return the Patels' money, and said the best he could do was a payment plan. And after that conversation, the Patels say they got $800 in cash from Ramirez. 

Now they just want the rest of their money so they can move on.

"Whatever it is, whatever is going on, just apologize, give us our money back, there's no issue just move on from here," Patel said.

The good news is the Patels have $800 back, and we're told another payment is coming next week.

Copyright 2015 3TV (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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