SOUTHWEST, Mo. — Was it a calculated business scam, or poor business judgement?
Several people claim they were taken advantage of by a man believed to live in the Branson area. They say he promised to do construction work for them, but instead he took their money and didn’t do the job.
Bryan Irick of Springfield says he thought he was getting a good deal on a new garage when he found Houston Construction through a Facebook ad.
“Better Business Bureau showed nothing. Nothing on google came up. No bad reviews,” said Irick.
But he says after he signed the contract with owner Brian Pummell, he realized it was a bad deal.
“He promised he’d start in 2 days and be finished in 3 weeks.. and the start day came and went, he never showed and I was fairly polite…hey what’s up, you know,” said Irick.
Irick added that he gave Pummell an almost 6-thousand-dollar deposit.
“I let it go a day or two and another day and I just kept asking and it was always an excuse — and after about a week and a half I got a little irritated,” Irick said.
He’s not alone in his complaint. Another couple featured on a Fox channel in Kansas City say they too were scammed by Pummell — along with two other families making the same claim.
Pummell’s side of the story — he says his hired help walked out on him at the last minute and his business was in trouble after receiving bad checks from previous jobs.
“Before I did it, I told them what I was doing, I said I’m closing down my business in case they see it online,” Pummell said via phone, “I’m not trying to rip you guys off, but I don’t want..I can’t do no more work besides you guys. Once I finish your work, that’s all I can do.”
Pummell says he’s working hard to pay back everyone he owes.
“I don’t make that much money to pay 4 people at once. I am trying my best to pay these people,” said Pummell.
Irick says so far, he has received about 700 dollars from Pummell, but his extensive research on Pummell reveals a pattern.
“If he turns over a new leaf that’s great, but he’s got years and years of this track record of taking advantage of people and not paying them back and..you know,” said Irick.
Pummell admitts he took on too much at once, but he insists he’s not a scammer.
“They paid me to do a job and it’s my responsibility to get that job done,” Pummell said, “Don’t matter if I had one guy or twenty guys..it’s my responsibility to do that job — and I shoulda knew if I couldn’t do that job or not.”
This case actually did go to court. Irick sued Pummell in Small Claims. However, when they were supposed to go before a judge, Pummell didn’t show up. Irick was given a five-thousand dollar judgement.
A man who says Pummell has been working for him for the past six months or so, says he has had no problems with Pummell — and that he has treated them well.