Angry customers say they were 'taken for granted' by kitchen contractor

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation
LOCKPORT, Ill. (WLS) -- Angry customers said they paid hundreds of dollars for countertops they said they never received.

The countertops were meant to complete their dream kitchens, but customers said the company Take Me for Granite failed to deliver.

"For months we sat here and wondered when we were going to have countertops," said Barbara Gallagher.

Lockport residents Barbara and Mike Gallagher said they regret trusting Take Me for Granite.

The Gallaghers wrote a $3,200 check as a deposit for quartz countertops, but that was in April 2017. They were going to owe another $1,300 upon installation.

"We knew we were taken. That he had come into our house and scammed," Barbara said.

"We said, 'Ahhhhhh, we really want our money back,'" said Mike. "He gave some basic excuses and said, 'You'll get all your product,' and I said, 'Don't worry about the product, we want our money back because there is something off here and it's inappropriate, what you're doing.'"

They said after waiting several months and hearing excuses, they gave up and eventually paid another company thousands of dollars more to finish their kitchen.

"Our whole life was disrupted. We were washing our dishes in a utility room sink. We had no faucet, no running water, no countertops," Barbara said.

The Gallaghers filed a police report, a complaint with the Attorney General's office and the Better Business Bureau. A few weeks ago they received a money order from the company, but they are not cashing it in because they want a full refund.

The BBB gives Take Me for Granite an "F" grade for the Gallaghers' complaint and two similar complaints.

"All of the complaints allege he promised them a completion date that never transpired, then there was a plethora of excuses as to why he couldn't do it. He promised to pay them back, all of them, on certain dates and that date has come and gone," said Steve Bernas of the Better Business Bureau of Northern Illinois.

Michelle Simmerman said she's waiting for countertops in Waukesha, Wis.

"I feel completely taken advantage of. We had a dream to update this and get more money for it when we sell it, and now we have to get another contractor," she said.

Her kitchen is untouched, but according to her contract she paid Take Me for Granite a $1,200 cash deposit for countertops and a sink in July.

"That $1,200 is like a mortgage payment to us. That's a big deal," Simmerman said.

Simmerman was going to owe $300 more upon installation. She showed the ABC7 I-Team texts she said are between her and the owner of the company, in which she repeatedly asks about an installation date and eventually demands a refund.

"There was always an excuse," she said.

The I-Team called and emailed Take Me for Granite and the owner, Mijodrag "Mickey" Ostojic, but didn't hear back. His business card doesn't have an office address, and he lives in Chicago's Old Irving Park neighborhood.

He wasn't home when the I-Team visited his house, but when they called again he answered. He said he's not taking new jobs and blamed the delays on his 90-year-old mother's "health problems." He said he is trying to get a loan to pay both customers back in full, "within the next month."

The Gallaghers and Simmerman said from now on they'll only use a credit card for home remodeling work, instead of cash and checks. This way they can file a dispute, if needed.

"I want to say to him, you need to wake up, come clean, and do what you have to do. Pay back our money," Mike Gallagher said.

Both consumers said they hired the company after getting trusted recommendations. However, you may want to get multiple recommendations from other happy customers.

You should also research a company online and with the Better Business Bureau, and insist on paying a contractor in thirds.

More tips on hiring a contractor from Steve Bernas at the Better Business Bureau

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What the BBB wants you to know about how to hire a contractor.

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