Handyman servicesUnprofessional, Overcharged for services, Violated law

In August 2008, I engaged Ken Whitaker (The-Honey-Do-Man, Morningstar Properties) to perform requested services & to make recommendations to assist in the sale of my Pittsburgh home, as advertised on his website. Specifically, I asked him to (1) powerwash my back patio (no more than 75 sq feet); (2) repalce 2 bricks to be consistent with the architecture and integrity of the original brick patio stairs; (3) replace sockets & socket plates on 2-3 outlets; (4) observe and recommend any other areas for improvement which may assist me in selling my home more quickly (Ken's advertised expertise). I told him that he should keep the powerwasher in my garage after he completed the work. Ken did powerwash the back patio and attach the socket plates, but did not fix the brick (claiming that it would be unsafe), and did not respond with the list of improvement areas. Ken billed me $202.00, and kept the powerwasher, as agreed. I did not immediately respond to nor pay Ken, as I believed the amount to be well in excess of the services performed, and he did not complete the assigned tasks. Within 10 days of receiving Ken's invoice, he had threatened to go to the magistrate (aside from not being a good business practice, this is in violation of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (2006)). I expressed my concern that the approximate amount of expected compensation of $292.00 ($202.00 invoice, plus $90.00 that Ken assessed as value for the powerwasher) seemed unfair for the amount of work performed (i.e., powerwashing my small patio). Ken refused to lower the original amount, immediately offered to take items from my home as partial compensation, and then refused to return the key to my home. I did not call the police to retrieve the key (within my rights), but did have the locks changed, as I determined that Ken was unreasonable. I finally agreed to pay the $202 via paypal. Ken refused and insisted I pay via money order. I complied, but inadvertently forgot to sign it. Ken claimed he sent it back to me for signature, but I never received it. After assuring him that I would pay him (I had Moneygram reissue the money order), he filed with the magistrate (less than 90 days after original invoice), claiming I now owed him magistrate filing fees as well. Ken's email correspondence included (1) immediate threats to go to the magistrate which is in violation of law; (2) coercion by explaining the potential impact on my credit score; and (3) happiness that I would spend more money on a lawyer than to dispute the amount he charged me. Though I had originally prepared to contest in court (after continuances, the revised date is in January 2009), my family recently decided to pay Ken's requested amount, as we now live in Colorado and believe the trip would be cost and time prohibitive. Ken has wasted my time, has broken debt collection practices, used coercion to attempt to receive payment, while knowingly taking advantage of the fact I now live out of state. I would caution anyone coming across Ken's websites and advertisements to stay away.


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