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Post date: February 6 2002

Wny Snow Plow Operators Settle Blizzard Complaints

Attorney General Spitzer today announced settlements with four Buffalo-area snow plow contractors who have agreed to provide refunds for consumers who were either overcharged or did not receive services as a result of the record-breaking December snow storm.

In settling the cases, the four snow plow contractors have agreed to reimburse consumers for all documented additional costs they incurred during and right after the storm, up to $100. Consumers whose contractors failed to provide snow plowing services and were left to dig themselves out are eligible for a 20 percent rebate off their current contract price.

The four contractors are:
  • Acres Remodeling, Inc. of Lackawanna;
  • DD2 Home Improvement of Lancaster;
  • Brian's Landscaping and Snowplowing, Inc. of Buffalo; and
  • Jim Burkett's Lawn Care Service of West Seneca.
Consumers have until February 27th to file complaints with the Attorney General's office to be eligible for refunds. Inquiries should be directed to the consumer help line at (800) 771-7755.

"As everyone in Buffalo knows, Mother Nature can be cruel or kind, and that's the risk that both consumers and snow plow operators take when entering into a seasonal contract -- it may snow a lot or it may not. Put simply, a contract is a contract and consumers must receive the services that they've paid for," said Spitzer.

"As a result of these agreements, consumers can be assured that their overcharges will be refunded and that there will be continued snow plowing services for the remainder of the winter season," he said.

Spitzer's office received over 100 consumer complaints in the days that followed the five-day storm that totaled a record 82.3 inches of snow and crippled the area. The complaints included that snow plowers failed to show, or attempted to add additional charges for services covered under contracts, as well as price gouging.

In plowing and removing the record-levels of snow, some plowing contractors were forced to spend extra money to bring in additional snow removal equipment. In dealing with their increased costs, some of the plow operators then passed along those additional costs to their customers.

Although price gouging was not found in these particular cases, Spitzer's office intervened on behalf of consumers whose driveways were not plowed in accordance with their contracts, or who were forced to hire other contractors, or were charged additional fees even though they had pre-paid contracts that promised snow plow services regardless of the amount of snow or the severity of the storm.

Because the contracts did not state that consumers would be responsible for any extraordinary costs associated with snow plow services, Spitzer's office required that the contractors return the overcharges to customers.

Spitzer's office is continuing to investigate complaints of price gouging related to the December storm.

These cases were handled by Assistant Attorney General James M. Morrissey of the Buffalo Regional Office.