KINGSTON, Mo. — Ruth Stanturf had big plans for a tiny shed initially bought for storage at her home.

“I thought it would be nice for a guesthouse, something like that,” said Stanturf standing in front of the shed which has shutters around its windows and flowers near the door.

Stanturf said she was thinking about hiring an electrician when an ad popped up for one on Facebook’s marketplace.

That’s where this problem starts.

The electrician told Stanturf his name was JJ Smith, but she later determined his real name was Jim Shaddix. Shaddix advertised free estimates. Stanturf asked him for one.

“He wanted floor plans, a picture of the shed and everything, so I sent all that,” she said.

The next time Stanturf heard from Shaddix he told her he had visited her home to see the shed in person. Stanturf was surprised to hear that since no one had seen him on the property and her security cameras had not captured a single image of him.

Shaddix told Stanturf that he’d drawn up her estimate but wanted to deliver it to her in person.
They met at a McDonald’s in St. Joseph near the electrician’s home where Shaddix handed her the estimate.

“So, he slides the estimate to me $6,575 just to wire in here,” Stanturf said. “I said, ‘Well, that’s ridiculous.'”

Then he insisted she sign it, promising her he would throw it away if she decided to hire someone else.

“I said, ‘I’m not signing anything,'” Stanturf recounted, thinking she’d never hear from Shaddix again.

But a couple of days later a bill arrived in the mail. It was for $625. That’s the amount Shaddix claimed she owed him for the time he spent on her “free” estimate. The estimate warned that she had only 10 days to pay it.

FOX4 Problem Solvers showed the bill to Attorney Scott Shachtman.

“Free means free,” Shachtman said. “If a trade represents to the public that we are going to give free quotes or free estimates than the company should live by that.”

Shachtman said companies that advertise free quotes, but then charge for them could be in violation of Missouri’s consumer protection act.

FOX4 Problem Solvers paid a visit to the last known address we found for Shaddix at a house in St. Joseph. No one ever answered the door, although there were two vehicles parked at the house.

We then tried to call Shaddix.The work number advertised on his website, wouldn’t accept our calls or our text message.

We finally sent him a message via a blind box set up for new customers on his website. We asked him for his side of this controversy. That was nearly a week ago and we have yet to hear back.

So far, Stanturf is not out any money. So, why is she sharing her story?

“I’m just warning other people out there about what this man is doing,” she said.

So consider yourself warned.

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