News 9 told the sympathetic tale of a handyman who wants to get paid for work he didn’t complete

Yesterday, News 9 ran a sympathetic report about local part-time handyman Ray Koehler. Last weekend, Ray found some work installing a dance floor in someone’s garage in south Oklahoma City and didn’t get paid for it. Now he’s mad and wants the world to know that he got scammed.

From the Spirit of Oklahoma:

A metro handyman says he was scammed on a business deal that originated on Craigslist. Now, that handyman and the customers he claims scammed him are calling into question the new way more and more people are meeting for business deals that all too often head south.

“I’ve never had any problems until this weekend,” Ray Koehler, avid Craigslist user and handyman said.

The economy has Koehler, a full-time Tinker employee, advertising his services on Craigslist. Koehler says it’s a way to catch up on bills and get ahead. At the same time, the economy has his customers turning to Craigslist for cheap labor.

“I basically wasted 6 hours of my day when I could have been … doing another job actually making money,” Koehler said.

Koehler says he was scammed in his latest job in which he was hired to install a dance floor in the garage of a South Side home.

Of course, there’s always more than one side to a story, but the homeowner of the residence would not go on camera. Off camera, the homeowner told News 9 that payment would have been made to Koehler after the project was complete, but that is where both parties did not see eye-to-eye.

“I said, look, I know I didn’t get the job finished, but I need to get something for today,” Koehler said. “[The customer] didn’t have any money.”

It’s all of these “he said, she said stories” causing shoddy business relationships that has prompted the Better Business Bureau to give Craigslist an F rating.

Even with the F rating, Koehler still plans on using the Craigslist. But, from now on, he says he will use more caution and draft a pre-arranged agreement.

Yep, News 9 is now running Consumer Watch reports about contractors who are not finishing their work and not being paid. That sound you just heard was the Ghost of Brad Edwards taking a shot of hard whiskey. Maybe next week News 9 will run a sympathetic story about a child predator who’s having a difficult time meeting kids on MySpace.

Seriously, I’m sure Mr. Koehler is a good guy and everything, but what’d he expect? Based on all the negative coverage that News 9 and the other TV channels dedicate to contractors and Craiglist, you can’t really blame his customer for being cautious. Hell, maybe they even watched this News 9 Consumer Report from January:

Consumer Watch: OKC Contractor Gets Paid, Leaves Floor Work Undone

After 30 plus years in the same home, Carl and Jean Mayabb recently started some home improvements. They were excited to spruce up their original hardwood floors.

Jean had an idea of how she wanted them to look.

“Beautiful, stained, sanded, refinished and pretty” Jean said.

They heard a guy named Shannon Casey did good work. When he came out for an estimate, he told the Mayabbs he could cover their floors with new wood for just more than $2000, including materials and installation.

The work was supposed to be complete by Thanksgiving. A few days before the holiday, Casey returned, but not to start the job.

“He came back the second time, wanting that $1000. Another thousand after us paying $2050,” Jean said.

Thanksgiving came and went with no work done. But Jean says Casey did show up two more times to collect another $850 for what he called a special glue. For the next month, Jean says she heard excuse after excuse. She finally confronted Shannon Casey…

Some advice to take from this:

• When you hire a contractor, never pay in full up front.

• If a contractor is in such a bad situation financially that he needs payment in full – you have to question how he’s going to handle the money you give him.

• Instead, pay in installments. Give him an incentive to come back and finish the job. And if he needs money for supplies, pay the supplier directly.

Anyway, hopefully this story will end like most other Consumer Report / In Your Corner type features. Maybe some good Samaritan will send Ray a check to pay him for the work he didn’t finish and maybe some flooring contractor will finish installing the dance floor that the person on the southside didn’t pay for. What a heartwarming tale it will be.