Reporting Bill Hudson
OAK GROVE, Minn. (WCCO) — Homeowners across the north metro are being urged to stay alert for contractors promising a quick fix for your driveway.
Several cases have popped up in recent weeks of blacktop specialists showing up at your door and offering deals to grade and seal driveways. It’s what happened to an Oak Grove woman Tuesday night, when she was told the crew had extra material they needed to get rid of.
But when they were done with the job, she was handed a bill for thousands of dollars.
Painting contractors, roofers and now driveway crews are being added to this annual scam. But in this case Tuesday night, after finishing their work they were scared off with a call to the sheriff.
When a paving crew stopped by her Anoka County home uninvited Tuesday, Edie McQuerter quickly grew suspicious. She hadn’t asked for their work, but was told she’d get cheap fill added to her dirt driveway.
“He said he had some material and I would be doing him a favor if I took the material off his hands,” McQuerter said. “He finished the whole driveway and I come back and say what’s the total bill. He says $9,100. I’m like, I’m not paying that.”
They offered to cut it in half to $4,500. When she refused to pay, the contractor got angry.
“He told me if he marked it off you can’t walk or drive on it and then it becomes my property. I’m like, I think we need to call the sheriff,” said McQuerter.
“There is no legitimate paving contractor going to show up going door to door, ready to do work,” said Anoka County Sheriff’s Commander Paul Sommer.
Sommer said it’s a scam that pops up every couple of years. A kind salesperson says they have material left over from a previous job and offer you a great deal.
“They’ll put it on and it looks legit for maybe a few hours till somebody tries to walk on it or drive on it, then the scam is revealed,” Sommer said.
Fortunately, Edie didn’t fork over a dime and it’s a good thing. The pavement at the end of her driveway is nothing but packed fill sprayed with waste oil.
“He probably wasn’t even going to give me a receipt,” she said.
You can tell just by looking that the material isn’t real asphalt, but rather a coating of used motor oil that looks like tar until you scratch away at it. Not only are you paying too much, you’re not even getting the real deal.
The contractors in the scam are very stealth: No paperwork, business cards and not even markings on their trucks. If you’re solicited, the best advice is to turn them away and call police.