Elderly couple's year-long construction dispute with Lowe's

Elderly couple's year-long construction dispute with Lowe's

WAHIAWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A year after an elderly Wahiawa couple bought a $3,000 solar-powered gate from Lowe's Home Improvement, the big box retailer still hasn't finished installing the gate.

Vivian Rich, 82, and her 91-year-old husband Clifford Hill Jr. said Lowe's and its subcontractor never put in the solar panels and that the two companies won't tell them when they plan to finish the job.

"The gate has not been completed. I have no gate ... They didn't have any solar panels up. They kept giving excuses," Rich said.

"We thought they were a reliable company but no they're not."

Rich initially signed a $14,000 contract with Lowe's for the gate, a fence and work on doors and windows. She said she initially wanted just an electric gate but she allowed a Lowe's salesman to talk her into a solar-powered gate.

She said the door and the windows were fixed but the subcontractor never install the solar panels, which now lay wasting in the couple's garage.

Rich said she now plan to file a complaint with state regulators.

Hawaii News Now reached out to Lowe's but they had no comment. The subcontractor, Chief Builders, said the solar panels were faulty in the first place.

"So I turned them back to Lowe's and say 'hey, they're not working.' So I don't know what happened after that," said Chieftain Popa, owner of Chief Builders.

According to Hawaii's Better Business Bureau, consumer complaints like Rich's have been on the rise as construction activity here has heated up.

For the year ending May 2014, 2,900 complaints were lodged against building contractors, up 500 from the year before and more than double the number of complaints filed in 2010.

"I think the numbers are up because the economy is doing better. People have deferred maintenance on their houses that they put off during the recession," said Gregory Dunn, CEO of Hawaii's BBB.

Fortunately for the Wahiawa couple, both Lowe's and Chief Builders are accredited by the BBB. That means that the companies have agreed to resolve disputes with the agency's help.

If that doesn't work, they can go the more formal route of going through mediation.

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