Calgary flood victim claims contractor overcharged

A Calgary homeowner alleges a restoration company overcharged her for work on her flooded basement.

Southwest homeowner says restoration company charged her $22,000 for unfinished work

A Calgary flood victim says she was shocked when she received a bill from a restoration company for thousands more than she expected to pay. 2:24

A Calgary homeowner alleges a restoration company overcharged her for work on her flooded basement.  

Jennifer Strain paid Action Restoration $10,000 up front to fix her Roxboro home.  

Jennifer Strain shows CBC News her flood-damaged basement. (CBC)

At first everything seemed to go smoothly, she said.

But Strain started to have concerns when the workers didn't have any generators, didn't seem organized and eventually didn't show up anymore, she said.  

When she asked the company for a running tally of the work, she was sent a bill for $22,000 — minus the deposit.

"We were absolutely livid, absolutely livid. We filed a better business bureau complaint within an hour," she said.

"You know, I guess we are just resigned to having to resolve it legally I guess. We are certainly not paying the balance … happy to pay for services legitimately provided, but I don't think it was even 10 grand worth," she said.

In hindsight, Strain said she would have asked more questions, done more checks and likely not agreed to pay $10,000 upfront.

"But this is just such an unreal situation, you are taking any help you can get," she said.

'We made mistakes'

Jim Elaschuk, Action Restoration's chief financial officer, admits their math was off.

"I'm saying, yes, we made mistakes, I can't run from that," he said. 

Not only did the company overcharge, Elaschuk says he didn't realize they were not allowed to collect a $10,000 deposit before the work even started.

According to Service Alberta, the company is not licensed as a prepaid contractor and should not have taken any money before the job was finished.

"We lost quite a bit of money in 2005 because we went out and did work and nobody paid their bill, so this time we said, 'How can we protect ourselves.'"

He also says Action usually works solely with insurance companies and working with homeowners has been a big learning curve.

"I mean we were just trying to help Calgarians, ... it's just that simple."

Just last week the province introduced new penalties and a task force dedicated to protecting consumers during the rebuilding process. But the minister responsible says there are ways for homeowners to protect themselves.

Late this afternoon, after CBC spoke with both sides, the company and the homeowner resolved the dispute. Strain says the bill for the work on her house has now been "significantly reduced."