Woman says contractor painted deck without permission, demanded payment

An ABC 7 I-Team Investigation
PLAINFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- A woman in southwest suburban Plainfield found her deck painted when she got home from work one day, but says she had never ordered the work to be done. When the contractor demanded payment for a job she didn't authorize, Karyn Beaty contacted the ABC7 I-Team.

"And it was raining real hard so I looked out to see the rain storm, and my deck had been done. And I had no clue who had done it," Beaty said.

Beaty said she was shocked when she came home from work and saw her deck had been painted. The problem: She never had a contract with anyone to do the job.

"One day I ran into a contractor with American Decorating, and he said they had done it by mistake," Beaty said. "They were supposed to do the one two doors down. So that's how I found out who did it, but I had no contract with them."

American Decorating in Elgin said it does have a contract to do work with Beaty's condo association and was staining other decks in the complex, but the company admitted they never had a contract with Beaty.

"He said they wouldn't bill me, because it was their mistake," said Beaty. "So I did nothing, I just thought it'd go away, but then in June I got a bill."

Beaty showed the I-Team a past due invoice dated at the end of September. She said the same invoice was sent to her again in December. When she called the company in January, she was told she was on the hook for the $592 job.

"I just want them to cancel out the invoice. It was their mistake. And they're just not doing that, they won't do that. I just don't think you can go around painting peoples' decks, trespassing on their property, and then expecting to be paid for it," she said.

So the I-Team called American Decorating but they didn't respond. When the I-Team's calls went unanswered we stopped by American Decorating and talked to one of the owners, Hugo Garcia.

Jason: Well they did the work; she said she doesn't want to pay because she never wanted you to do the work
Hugo: I think you're talking to the wrong person. Because the main...
Jason: But you're one of the partners?
Hugo: Yes I am, but I'm not in charge of every single conversation. ... I don't know the whole history of this issue. I do know the address, I do know what we did on the balcony, and I know that they have a lot of rotting wood on their patio.
Jason: Do you still want the money from her, I guess?
Hugo: No no no no no no. We do understand sometimes mistakes happen, and it can happen to anybody.

Then the I-Team went to the American Decorating office and talked to an employee, who said they had stopped trying to collect from Beaty before the I-Team got involved.

They also said she had verbally authorized the job, something Beaty denies.

"And the girl said, 'Well we did the work so you have to pay it.' I said, 'But you don't have a contract with me.' And she said, 'Well we'll say we have a verbal.' I said, 'But you don't have a verbal,'" said Beaty.

To avoid issues like this, experts said both contractors and homeowners should always have written contracts for any job.

The consumer in this story said the dispute was not over money but rather the principal - standing behind her claim that she never gave the company permission to paint her deck.
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