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CONSUMER ALERT

Collecting from unscrupulous contractor is tough

Being a victim of an unscrupulous contractor, in addition to being financially draining, can be exhausting. After what seemed to be a victory in their fight to get justice, the onetime customers of Kyle Buckminster are growing restless in their pursuit of money they are due.

The state attorney general’s office announced in early June its lawyers had won a judgment against Buckminster, an unlicensed contractor, for more than $150,000. He would collect money from customers and then walk away from the jobs, according to the complaint. The court ordered Buckminster to pay $111,000 in consumer restitution, $35,000 in civil penalties, and $12,600 in fees.

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But, now, about five months later, consumers are still waiting for some compensation — highlighting one of the big frustrations for victims in cases like this. Winning is one thing, collecting is another.

It is not unusual for a consumer to win a court judgment against a contractor and never see a dime. One victim, William Moran, who said he is out $40,000 for work that was to be done on a house on Cape Cod, has been driven in his pursuit of Buckminster.

He and others are trying to track down the contractor and get him to pay up. He operated under these names: Buckminster Construction, Kyle Buckminster Fine Custom Carpentry and Finishing, Mid-Cape Construction and Fine Custom Carpentry, Blue Ocean Builders, and First Commonwealth Builders. Moran said he has heard Buckminster is once again doing contracting work in New England.

Attempts to reach Buckminster for comment were unsuccessful. Calls to a number that had been listed for Buckminster’s old business went unanswered, and no messages could be left. Buckminster’s contractor registration in Massachusetts was revoked more than a dozen years ago.

The attorney general’s office said it has not given up getting the money from him. “Kyle Buckminster is currently in default due to his failure to pay the ordered restitution imposed by the court and our office will continue to pursue the amount owed to consumers,” said AG spokesman Christopher Loh.

Mitch Lipka has been helping consumers out of jams for the past two decades. He lives in Worcester and also writes the Consumer Alert blog on Boston.com. Mitch can be reached at ConsumerNews@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @mitchlipka.
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