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Better Business Bureau Takes Action
Thursday, 07 July 2005
Contractors From Hell…Not at the BBB! 
Tremont failed to take the ethically correct route and chose to pursue their case through the AAA.  Due process was followed at the BBB and they were ultimately revoked from the Bureau.  The language on their BBB report reflects the same.  Ms. Fogle continues to wage war with Tremont, only to find herself being personally sued for her troubles.  Tremont has also sued another of their residents in Tremont Towers for painting lemons on her windows.  Last report to this office indicated that the judge at that hearing commended her on her artwork.

  The Better Business Bureau of  Metropolitan Houston, Inc.
serving 10 Texas Counties: Harris, Austin, Brazoria, Colorado, Ft. Bend, Galveston, Matagorda, Montgomery, Waller & Wharton.

Contractors From Hell…Not at the BBB! 

People Magazine’s May 30, 2005, edition awarded the dubious honor of being “Contractors From Hell” to certain homebuilders, including one from San Antonio and one that is a former member of the Houston Better Business Bureau.  The company, Tremont Homes, raised a red flag at the BBB when numerous reports from consumers alleging deceptive and substandard building practices began being filed with the dispute resolution department.  The initial response by Tremont Homes was that they were not the builder; rather a company named Stature Construction was to blame.  Given that response, the files were closed. 

But the dogged determination of one of the consumers, Jordan Fogle, and her ability to connect the ownership of both Tremont Homes and Statute Construction gave the BBB cause to reopen the files and investigate further.  That investigation led to the discovery that these same business owners are incorporated under at least 10 different business names, each affiliated with either the building or building management industry.  Under their Membership Agreement with the BBB, they where required to mediate or arbitrate any claims or disputes through the Houston office. A hearing was scheduled and notices were sent to both parties. 

Upon receipt of the notice, Tremont’s attorneys weighed in and began to assert the same ownership and corporate shell game they had used as a defense before.  In the eyes of the BBB, however, same ownership equals same ethical responsibility to resolve the consumer’s complaints.  That, plus the fact that even though they now insisted each incorporation was separate, each entity used the BBB seal under only one annual membership dues.  Again, supporting the opinion of the BBB that ethically, these companies were accountable to answer the consumer’s complaint. 

Discussions ensued regarding the BBB’s acceptance of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) as an “approved” provider, per the wording of the Membership Agreement.  It was pointed out to their legal counsel that:  1) any provider other than BBB must be approved at the time the contract is signed, not many years later at their convenience; and 2) the BBB would not approve AAA as a provider in this instance due to the overly-burdensome costs being charged to the consumer in this case.  Therefore, Tremont was told to decide – either arbitrate through the BBB, or risk revocation of their membership.  

Tremont failed to take the ethically correct route and chose to pursue their case through the AAA.  Due process was followed at the BBB and they were ultimately revoked from the Bureau.  The language on their BBB report reflects the same.  Ms. Fogle continues to wage war with Tremont, only to find herself being personally sued for her troubles.  Tremont has also sued another of their residents in Tremont Towers for painting lemons on her windows.  Last report to this office indicated that the judge at that hearing commended her on her artwork. 

People magazine offered this advice to its readership – Check references and contact your local Better Business Bureau.  In following that advice, those prospective homebuyers that do will find out which are the Contractors from Hell and which are those to be trusted.

 
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Reckless Endangerment
BY: GRETCHEN MORGENSON
and JOSHUA ROSNER

Outsized Ambition, Greed and
Corruption Led to
Economic Armageddon


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