Landscaper silent after claims he broke law, took money for work he didn't finish

Landscaper paid but doesn't do the job
Published: Aug. 11, 2015 at 6:54 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2015 at 7:20 PM EDT
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HARRISBURG, NC (WBTV) - An On Your Side investigation is shining a light on a local contractor facing complaints from angry homeowners.

Chad Rice is the owner of NuTurf Management. We began investigating Rice and his company after getting multiple complaints from viewers that Rice had taken their money for landscaping jobs that were never completed.

Terri Cummings is among the people who contacted On Your Side Investigates for help.

Cummings and her husband paid Rice $2,000 to begin work on a patio in their back yard. The payment was a 50 percent deposit on a job that was supposed to total just under $4,000.

Cummings said she decided to call Rice after he did work for her neighbor.

"We had looked at our neighbor's edging and the work that he had done in her backyard. We asked for his number and we got it and he came out promptly and went over different phases that we wanted done," Cummings explained.

Cummings said she and her husband met with him in April, which is when they wrote him a check. The three agreed that the work would begin in about a month because of Rice's busy schedule with other jobs.

Email and cell phone text message records provided by Cummings show Rice and his crew showed up to work one day, did some prep work on the site where they would be installing the patio but never came back to finish the job.

He also never refunded Cummings the money she and her husband had paid them. In one text message, Rice claimed he couldn't refund the money—despite the fact that her job was never completed—because he had used it to purchase materials for her job that couldn't be returned.

Cummings has filed a complaint with the Concord Police Department, which is investigating.

Cummings also went on-line to leave negative reviews about Rice. That's where she found Kristen Hall.

Hall hired Rice to do some landscaping work at her home, including putting in a retaining wall and installing a walking path in her back yard.

"At the end of the first day, Chad had all of my money but I didn't have all of the work," Hall said.

She paid Rice $1,500 for work that, ultimately, was done incorrectly and was never completed.

Hall took Rice to small claims court in an attempt to recoup the money she paid him but a judge ruled the pair didn't have an enforceable contract that spelled out what work Rice was required to do.

"He did not finish the job which is why I called you guys," Hall said.

We called Rice to try and work things out between him, Cummings and Hall. When Rice answered, he said he would call us back the next day. That never happened. Instead, we had to meet up with him one day after he got off work.

Rice refused to answer our questions about why he won't refund Cummings' money.

Another question he wouldn't answer is why he is quoting jobs to install irrigation systems in violation of state law.

In North Carolina, an irrigation contractor must be licensed by the NC Irrigation Contractors' Licensing Board to perform jobs worth $2,500 or more.

Rice wrote Cummings an estimate for $2,800 to install an irrigation system at her house.

Records maintained by the NCICLB show neither Rice nor his company, NuTurf Management, are licensed by the board. Rice is barred from getting an irrigation contractor's license because he is a convicted felon.

According to records maintained by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, Rice was convicted on a felony charge of obtaining property by false pretense in 2006.

When we asked Rice why he was quoting irrigation work in violation of licensing laws, he denied it, despite documents that prove otherwise. He did not respond to a question about his felony conviction.

A spokeswoman with the NCICLB said the board is investigating Rice after a homeowner filed a complaint against him several weeks ago.

Terri Cummings, the woman who lost $2,000 for a job Rice barely ever started, said she is determined to get her money back.

"I am going to get my money back," Cummings said. "I will. I will get it back."

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