Friday, May 24, 2024

Eastern Ontario couple tries to track down contractor who allegedly took off with deposit

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A couple living east of Ottawa is speaking out about their battle to track down a contractor who allegedly took their deposit for a slab of quartz, but never ordered it, making them spend weeks trying to track him down.

While looking to renovate their kitchen in their Clarence Creek, Ont. home last year, Jason and Gabrielle Vandenberg received a quote from Cody Lafontaine with Granite Ottawa after discovering his company on Facebook and reading several positive reviews online.

“We just wanted to freshen up the space, modernize it, to give it a bit of our own character and flair. And part of that was changing up the countertop from the laminate countertop to a nice quartz counter,” said Jason.

While they liked Lafontaine, the couple decided to hold off on the project for a year to save up.

In February 2024, they reached out to Lafontaine again to go ahead with the project. Lafontaine came to their house to take measurements, they said, and the couple picked out the slab of quartz that would be used for their kitchen, coffee bar and bathroom.

“We didn’t think twice about it,” said Jason, who e-transferred Lafontaine more than $1,700 for the 50 per cent deposit.

“We’ve dealt with other contractors in the past and other businesses in the past where that’s completely normal for us.”

The slab was to be delivered to Lafontaine’s shop on March 12 with installation the following week, the couple said. When the Vandenberg’s followed up, they couldn’t get a hold of Lafontaine.

“We keep following up with him. Phone calls, emails, text messages, Facebook messages and not a single response,” said Jason.

“This was when the red flags really started, because the supplier told me that an order had never been placed and that our pick ticket was still sitting on their desk,” added Gabrielle, who said she went to the online addresses associated with the business to try to track Lafontaine down, but had no luck.

CTV News Ottawa reached out to Lafontaine several times in several different ways. So far, he has not responded to any requests for comment.

There are several addresses listed online that are associated with Granite Ottawa, but none of them belong to the company.

The Granite Ottawa website lists two addresses in Ottawa — a co-working space on William Street in the ByWard Market that said Lafontaine doesn’t rent from them and a showroom on Bentley Avenue, that belongs to another business that was shocked and not aware their address was listed on the website.

Granite Ottawa’s Facebook page also lists a different address on Anderson Road that belongs to another company.

Lafontaine is also associated with Manomin Stone Surface, which is the company listed on the Vandenberg’s invoice. The address on its Facebook page is a home in Maniwaki, Que., but no one was home when CTV News knocked on the door.

CTV News went to an address in Maniwaki, Que. to try to reach out to Lafontaine, but have not yet received a request for comment. (Tyler Fleming/CTV News Ottawa)

The phone number on the Manomin Stone Surface Facebook page is the same one given to the Vandenberg’s, but the Google listing has a number that goes to a voicemail for a person in Kingston.

The day after the Vandenberg’s filed a police report, Lafontaine e-mailed the couple saying he’d been in an accident, was shutting down his company and would offer refunds in installments.

The day after CTV News started reaching out to Lafontaine, he e-transferred $875 back to the couple, half of their 50 per cent deposit. So far, they have not received the other half.

Gabrielle Vandenberg says she’s been in contact with other alleged victims and Lafontaine’s excuse doesn’t add up.

“One of them told me that he received the exact same email that day, but their situation happened a year ago. So in no way does that excuse account for them or us. It was just very frustrating.”

Ontario Provincial Police had also been trying to contact Lafontaine, but say now that some of the money has been returned, it’s considered a civil matter.

The Vandenberg’s don’t know if they’ll see the rest of their money, but the situation has been a roller coaster.

“It was heart wrenching. It took the wind out of our sails, really. It’s a mix between being embarrassed that we fell for it and anger that it was a thing that we were going through,” said Jason.

The couple has been speaking with other contractors and are hopeful the work will be completed, but say their trust has been broken and the project will now cost more to pay for another deposit.

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