BBB Investigation: Jarrell-based 5 Star Fence and Deck building reputation for unfinished jobs

ID-10046136Consumers who hired Jarrell, Texas-based 5 Star Fence and Deck to build fences, decks and other projects have told BBB they did not get what they paid for after making large upfront deposits.

A March 31, 2014 filing with Williamson County states the business is owned by Bert Henry. However, consumers who filed complaints with BBB say they dealt with Phillip Henry. Other business names associated with Phillip Henry include H&M Services and Intrusted Stewards. (Note: 5 Star Fence and Deck of Jarrell should not be confused with Austin-based Five Star Fence and Deck.)

As of Jan. 7, 2015, Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin has received four complaints about 5 Star Fence and Deck since September. The business has so far not responded to any of those complaints.

Consumers who complained to BBB report losses ranging from $1,500 to $8,600 after making down payments for work that was left unfinished or uncorrected. The consumers also report being unable to reach the company.

BBB sent two letters to 5 Star Fence and Deck in December, asking it to address the pattern of complaints, but has so far received no response.

Alecia Pemberton of Killeen says she paid Phillip Henry $3,240 in May 2014 for a deck that was to be completed in a week. After starting what she says was a substandard foundation, the company was stopped by the city of Killeen for not having a permit. After the permit was approved, the business never did any more work, she said.

“The city found out he didn’t have a permit,” Pemberton said. “It took a while for them to get the permit. Then he [Phillip] never did any work again. If he answered the phone, he would say ‘Next Friday, We’ll get it done in three days or it’s free.’ Now he won’t answer the phone.”

Merl Honeycutt of Round Rock said he paid 5 Star Fence and Deck $1,950 up front and only received about $500 worth of work before the company quit taking his calls.

“Phillip took down a gate and replaced it,” Honeycutt said. “He replaced four fence posts and put the gate back. I paid $1,950 up front for materials and he never came back. Fence posts cost about $50 each. That plus the cost of the gate probably comes to around $500.”

BBB offers the following advice when hiring a contractor:

  • Do your research. Check the company’s BBB Business Review at BBB.org before signing a contract. For a list of BBB Accredited Businesses that meet BBB Standards for Trust, go directly to checkbbb.org.
  • Get a list of references. The contractor should provide names, addresses and phone numbers of at least three clients who have projects similar to yours. Ask about their experience with the contractor. Also, tell the contractor that you’d like to visit jobs in progress.
  • Don’t pay cash. Pay by credit card if possible. You may have additional protection if there is a problem. Otherwise pay by check so your cancelled check can provide proof of payment. Consider using an escrow company.
  • Spread payments out. Never pay too much up front. Make payments during the project contingent upon completion of a defined amount of work. Do not make the final payment or sign a final release until you are satisfied with the work and have proof that the subcontractors and suppliers have been paid.
  • Shop around. Get at least three bids in writing based on the same specifications, materials, labor and time needed to complete the project. BBB’s Request-a-Quote service is free to use and contacts BBB Accredited Businesses to give you an estimate on your job.
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