William Edward Summers / DesignEnvelope.com / Takes payment for work and then doesn't do it
We contracted with William Summers November 2009 to help us design and provide plans for the addition of an apartment we are building for our disabled son. This was after paying him $150 for a consultation and an initial concept which we were quite pleased with.
When my husband signed the contract Mr. Summers received $650 as a retainer, and was to make some changes we requested to our concept and complete the draft stages of the work. When he returned to move on to the next stage in January, instead of bringing any work to show his progress he brought two new concepts. This should have alerted us to the problem, however he was very convincing and we liked one of the other concepts even better. He assured us the work was already entered into Auto Cad and with a few quick changes he would be ready to provide us our working drawings. We paid him the 2nd $650 called for under the contract, prematurely, but trusting this was fair.
He asked us to email him pictures of the exterior of our home, which we did January 4th, at which time he stated he would have the completed work for our approval within a week and make some free suggestions for the exterior of the home as well.
In February we contacted him for a status update, no reply. Then we followed up and we were told another short time. He claimed he was delayed by computer problems and would get to us within a week, he then made further excuses. By mid-March we began advising him we needed his work quickly or we stood to lose $80, 000 worth of grants we were applying for because without the drawings we hired him to provide, we would not be able to get the quotes on time. Finally we told him if we did not have an appointment by the end of the day, we would hire someone else.
He finally called us saying the work was complete and he was ready to meet with us. Then he wouldn't agree to a time to meet, then he would cancel our appointments at the last 2nd, then he sent us an email of some draft work to show he was acting in good faith, when we stated there were many inaccuracies but we would still like the drafts to apply for grants, he refused to meet for several more days until he could "correct" them. Then he made more appointments and canceled with various excuses like "my power is out" and "I need a power cord for my laptop" then finally he just emailed us :40 min after the time of our appointment to indicate he wasn't coming until the following day. We phoned him many times, but he would only email as a reply and would ignore all of the points that we would raise.
We were frustrated and appalled but still thought he was just a terrible businessman, until he came for the appointment...
Then he demanded his FINAL payment April 7, 2010 of $700.00 which he wasn't entitled to receive until the scope of the work was complete, however his work was completely inaccurate, was missing major parts of what was to be included, and was completely unusable. We know of others he has done the same to.
We tried to find a resolution, asking him to leave the work so we could still apply for our grants as this was only 3 weeks until the grant deadlines and we were still unable to get quotes to complete our applications. He was very hostile, intimidating and blackmailing my husband with the draft drawings in order to receive the final payment without completing the work at all. He has made threats and tried to extort that money as well.
We were horrified, and not realizing just HOW terrible the work was at first glance because he barely allowed my husband to look at it first before snatching it up and demanding his money, he was given a cheque for the $700.
After thorough review however my husband tried to phone him and advise we were canceling the cheque due to the circumstances and the fact that the work was not even substantially completed. We had no reason to believe he would cooperate in correcting the work after cashing our cheque under the circumstances. He did not answer his call to discuss it, so we proceeded.
Shortly afterward we received an irate call screaming at us about lying and providing a phony cheque. He proceeded to threaten us and email copies of our cheque everywhere claiming we had defrauded him out of payment for goods and services we had received.
We asked him multiple times to complete the work in exchange for payment, he refused. He also ignored requests to refund us for the services he did NOT provide, as the drafts we provided us were useless and did not contain the things we hired him to complete.
After a week of this type of thing, he then "offered" to let us pay him $800 to not "escalate" things and ruin both of our good names by continuing to claim we gave him a fraudulent cheque and stole from him.
We have since discovered that he has apparently ripped off dozens of other people through the attached blog:
Unfortunately, though we did search for his company prior to hiring him we didn't find this, we had only found good things that seemed promising. We hope to change that for future people who consider hiring him.
We have also now done searches of the Corporate Registries in California and all of Canada, and though he claims to be operating as William Edward Summers, Inc. there is no such company currently in existence. Also through court searches I can see he has been taken to small claims court on a multitude of occasions in both countries.