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N4T Investigators: Irrigation Irritation - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Irrigation Irritation

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TUCSON - Kathy Brothers and her husband paid $2250 towards a new irrigation system at their northwest side home. This was after she got three quotes and settled on the middle one, for $4500. It was with a company called "Desert Drip Irrigation." Mrs. Brothers, a retired military nurse, says the business had good reviews when she Googled it. But she says the company owner, Gustavo Ruiz, delayed the start of the job twice for various reasons but insisted he would be at her house on Feb. 21.

"He never showed," Mrs. Brothers told the News 4 Tucson Investigators. So I called, I texted him. And nothing, absolutely nothing all day. And to this day, there has been no call, no response to any of my emails or phone calls. I'm just absolutely heartbroken because we live on a retired income and we saved for this."

When we called Gustavo Ruiz, he hung up the phone before we could even mention Mrs. Brothers' complaint. The company's website was then taken down and we couldn't find a business address for it. Home contractors in Arizona need a license for jobs of $1000 or more, and a spokesman for the state's Registrar of Contractors says Desert Drip Irrigation is not licensed. 

Susann Miller of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona says the BBB can't find any information about Desert Drip Irrigation. And more red flags:  on the so-called "contract" that Kathy signed: There is no business there is no business address for Desert Drip Irrigation and there wasn't one on its website, which we saw briefly before it was taken down.

Miller advises before homeowners hire a contractor, besides confirming the license, make sure the company has any required permits and insurance, and get everything in writing. "It's great that she got three quotes, but when you get quotes, you really want to get information on the companies themselves. So do your research on each company. Miller says getting recommendations from friends and neighbors is a must. 

"Personal references are fantastic," Miller said. They're the best way to go because you know that the company is legit, for one, and you know that they will follow through on their word."

Kathy Brothers now knows that reading three good reviews about the company on Google wasn't enough. "I guess I was a little fast on the trigger and didn't really investigate after that," she said. We asked her what she would tell Gustavo Ruiz if she could talk to him now. "That he's a very dishonest type person. And people need to know about this," she said. 

Mrs. Brothers said she also knows her $2250 for a new irrigation system is probably down the drain. "I have to wait now because we just don't have the money to do this again," she said.

Remember, you need to do thorough research before hiring a contractor.  If you think you're a victim of an unlicensed contractor, you can report that to the Arizona Registrar of Contractors and the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker site. That site now has over one-hundred thousand scams reported on it. In other words, there are a lot of scammers out there. 

If you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.

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