On Your Side Investigation: Cancellation fees

A Branson couple in need of a new roof, thought they did everything right. They researched. They hired local. They got a contract. Still, they nearly lost more than $2,000. That's when they reached out to On Your Side's Ashley Reynolds.

"There was absolutely nothing that would have made us think that after four months we would be sitting here talking to you and trying to figure what in the heck just happened," said Julie Mires.

It all started with a spring hail storm. The Mires' home took a punch from mother nature.

"The siding from here all the way around to the garage had to be replaced. All of the downspouts, gutters, they were just beat up," said Julie Mires.

A new roof was a must. Chuck and Julie Mires hired Cook Roofing, also known as CRC Residential. The Mires paid a $10,400 deposit in August. That's half of the total estimate.

"He would say give me another week and half -- two weeks, and then we would wait two and a half weeks and wouldn't hear anything," said Julie Mires.

As the kitchen leak got worse, the leaves began to change.

"We are talking about a hail storm in the spring. Now we are losing the leafs off of our trees," she said.

The Mires hired another company and had this roof installed in less than two weeks.

They wanted their $10,400 back from Cook Roofing. They got a refund, but it's $8,300. The bank slip reads there's a 10 percent cancellation fee.

"Never did he mention a cancellation fee. We were duped," said Chuck Mires.

The Mires showed On Your Side their contract. We showed it to the Home Builders Association.

"The only thing it says about cancellation has to do with the insurance company. There's nothing about 10 percent or a fee if the shingles are delivered. There's absolutely nothing," said Charlyce Ruth with the Home Builders Association.

That three line insurance cancellation clause also reads, 'see attached notice'.

"Never seen anything. That's all we got," said Chuck Mires.

"You should never sign a contract that says there's an attached form and it's not there because you are signing something you have not read. You've not understood. You have no idea what it says," said Ruth.

On Your Side went to the Cook Roofing address in Branson. About one hour later, Mark Cook's attorney contacted us. She said Cook is out of town and can't do an on camera interview. We asked, if anyone with the company is available for an interview. We were told no, but we would receive a written response.

The next morning, the Mires got a check.

"We got paid back," said Chuck Mires.

A check was dropped off at their work.

"Low and behold it was a check for the exact amount the other was short," he said.

Through his attorney, Mark Cook gave a statement. It reads, in part, "Along with their estimate the Mires received a written explanation of the cancellation policy."

He sent us a copy. It's the same contract the Mires showed us. Again, no mention of a 10 percent cancellation fee.

After the Mires asked for a refund, Cook says he verbally told them 'he'd hold 10 percent.' The Mires say Cook never brought it up.

"I thought that was extremely low since it was never disclosed to us and not in the contract. Not verbally disclosed to us that there was any kind of cancellation fee," said Chuck Mires.

Cook also says the Mires caused the delay because they changed the shingle order.

"We had already given it several times," said Julie Mires.

The Mires say they never changed their minds.

"Once he knew you were involved ... it was almost immediate we received the rest of our deposit back," she said.

Cancellation fees are common in the construction industry. However, the Home Builders Association says cancellation fees should be in the contract. The amount should be stated as dollar figure or percentage. Don't hesitate to ask questions. Always understand your contract before you sign.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.