Asphalt contractor uses fake BBB credentials to rip off consumer - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Asphalt contractor uses fake BBB credentials to rip off consumers

The contractor's work on her driveway (Source: WMC Action News 5) The contractor's work on her driveway (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Showing Andy Wise the asphalt is still wet (Source: WMC Action News 5) Showing Andy Wise the asphalt is still wet (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Plants sprayed with black substance. (Source: WMC Action News 5) Plants sprayed with black substance. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

Just because a company slaps the Better Business Bureau logo on its ad or truck doesn't mean it's actually BBB-rated or accredited.

Boy, does "Ann" realize that now.

"It's a mess," she said as she showed us the job Thomas Patrick Nelson--the 'Asphalt Doctor'--did on her Germantown, Tennessee, driveway. Black smudge all over the grass. Black smudge on her daylilies. Nelson's black-tar footprints in her carport. "It's all over the place," she said.

Ann hired Nelson to fill and seal her driveway after she found his Asphalt Doctor flier in her mailbox. The flier claimed he'd been in business since 1994. It boasted the BBB logo--with an "A" rating.

Without verifying that claim, she called the number on the flier, inviting him to the house for an estimate. She said he made a great first impression. "Clean cut, young guy, dressed nice," she said. "I trusted his appearance and the vibe I got back from him." 

She paid him $1,500, and he proceeded to destroy her driveway and landscaping. Her yard and driveway look like a first-grader colored outside of the lines. Over-spray of some kind of black substance is everywhere. Nelson did not fill and seal the cracks. The black soup pooling on parts of her driveway is still sticky to the touch, nearly a week after Nelson did the job.

Now Nelson won't return her calls. "Obviously, I wasn't as good a judge of character as I thought I was," Ann said.

You're not a bad judge of character, Ann. You just didn't do your homework.

"The company doesn't have a BBB rating," said Nancy Crawford, director of communications for the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South. "We don't even have a file on them. If they really had been in business since 1994, we would have had a file on them." There is neither a Shelby County business license nor a Tennessee contractor's license for Asphalt Doctor or Thomas Patrick Nelson, according to county and state records.

Nelson simply slapped a BBB logo and rating on his flier, hoping customers like Ann would take it at its word. She did. "Oh, I can't believe I did that," she said.

"If you don't take the time to check, it might be somebody who's just using it without authorization," Crawford said.

An undercover producer for WMC Action News 5 called the number on Nelson's flier to set up an estimate on another property in the Germantown neighborhood where Nelson distributed the flier. Nelson agreed to a scheduled visit, then didn't show.

We traced the cell phone number on the flier to 'Thomas Patrick Nelson' at 4458 Deer Lane in Memphis. The address is a trailer inside the Oakhaven Mobile Home Park near Memphis International Airport. The trailer park is known for its population of Irish travelers, an itinerant gypsy culture. We called Nelson and left a message. He did not return it.

Ann filed a report on the BBB's Scam Tracker. It put Nelson's business name and phone number on blast, describing his scam and how he pulled it off. 

Consumers can click on any location on the Scam Tracker's map and track other people's tell-alls of ripoffs happening in the same neighborhoods. 

"We'll be able to help the public know what kind of scams are happening in their area, and they'll also know that they're not alone," Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South President Randy Hutchinson said.

"I think that's fabulous," Ann said. "Hopefully, people will pay attention to the fact that they have that at their fingertips to tell that someone is a quality person or not. I just hope that other people will be able to benefit from my mistakes."

Copyright 2016 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

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