OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Ralph Armenta compares cooking in his kitchen to camping because he's been preparing meals without the benefit of kitchen cabinets or countertops since February.
"I don't like someone taking advantage of me and my wife," said Armenta, a retired caterer.
That "someone" is Todd Smith, the owner of Massif Homeworks, a construction company in Johnson County, Kansas. Armenta said he paid Smith $30,000 to remodel his kitchen, and although some of the work is completed, like a new floor and pantry, much of the kitchen is still missing.
"When it came time for the cabinets they would never appear, never appear, never appear," Armenta said while shaking his head.
FOX 4 Problem Solvers interviewed Armenta in July, which is two months after the date his kitchen was supposed to have been finished.
"I'm tired of promises," Armenta said. "We want action."
Action is also what Roger Rhoades wants.
"Every time I called him he would have an excuse, " said Rhoades of Todd Smith.
Rhoades, a retired Sprint employee, paid Smith $5,900 to build a deck on his home. The work was to start October 1. By November, there still wasn't a deck. There were just posts in the ground, and workers were rarely on the job.
Rhoades said when workers did show up they would only stay for an hour or two before leaving for another job. After seven months of waiting, Rhoades fired Smith and demanded a $4,300 refund. He has yet to see a dime.
This isn't the first time Smith has been in trouble. Last April, a judge ordered him to pay $4,000 to Lisa Blackstock after he failed to build the shower she paid for. Plus, the Johnson County District Attorney's office went after Smith for defrauding another woman of $6300. According to the consent decree, Smith was to repay her in full last June. But so far, she tells Problem Solvers, she's only received about one sixth of the money, or $1,000.
A spokeswoman for the DA's office told FOX 4 it has recently received three new complaints against Smith and his company, and they have opened a new investigation.
FOX 4 Problem Solvers made several attempts to find Smith, but it was not easy to track him down. His business address is a PO box at a UPS store and his home address is not listed on any database we could find.
To find Smith, FOX 4 asked a man who needed work on his home to call Smith's company for a bid. When Smith showed up, FOX 4 was waiting. But as soon as Smith saw FOX 4, he took off toward his car. When he was asked about about the accusations from his customers that he had defrauded them, he denied that was the case.
As far as paying people back the money he owes them? Smith said he fully intended to keep his word. We asked when Mr. Rhoades could expect his money, but all Smith would say is "I'll be in touch."
That's a line Mr. Rhoades has heard multiple times before. Smith drove away behind the wheel of a brand new $40,000 truck. We think a new truck is bad form for a man who owes so many customers so much money. Which is just one of the reasons why Todd Smith and Massif Homeworks is now an official member of the FOX 4 Problem Solver Hall of Shame.