Thousands of people use referral sites, like HomeAdvisor, every day to get work done on their homes.
The site connects consumers with companies they have pre-screened, however, News 6 discovered there are loopholes in the process that can leave homeowners vulnerable.
When Ken Brooker decided to re-landscape his front yard, he went with a service he had used before.
“I’ve had some success with HomeAdvisor,” Brooker said.
After contacting HomeAdvisor, Brooker started receiving emails from potential landscape companies, Beyondscapes Outdoor Improvements.
“I got emails from various landscapers,” he said. “Then he showed up, I was assuming he was part of HomeAdvisor, and I listened to him and after I got all the quotes, I decided to go with him."
Brooker hired the Sanford-based company for the job.
An invoice outlined the type of plants that would be used and the number of plants, according to Brooker. According to the invoice, the total cost was about $1,000.
When the company came for the installation, Booker says they didn’t have the 50 Asiatic Jasmine plants they had agreed on and the tan river rock he paid $112 for had been swapped out for pine bark.
"The contract was for the stone," Brooker said. He told the installer he was not pleased.
"He said he would put down the pine bark, it would be temporary and that he would come back and get the pine bark and put down the stone," Brooker said. "Of course I never saw him again."
When Brooker called HomeAdvisor to express his dissatisfaction, he says he got another surprise.
“They explained to me that Beyondscapes was never part of their network,” Brooker said.
Because Beyondscapes was not part of their network, HomeAdvisor initially could not help, according to Brooker.
Brooker said he had questions that HomeAdvisor could not answer.
“How did he find out that I put in a request with Home Advisor?” he asked. “They were just as baffled as I."
When News 6 contacted HomeAdvisor the company had had more time to investigate and sent News 6 a statement.
“This consumer was matched with a number of HomeAdvisor pros, including a company called Dracaena Landscape Design. Based on the customer’s feedback, we believe this company may be associated with the company the homeowner ultimately hired,” according to the statement.
"I just want my money back," Brooker said. "$112 call it a day and make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else," he said.
News 6 contacted Beyondscapes for Brooker and the company agreed to refund him the $112 for the river rock.
“We definitely wish Mr. Brooker came to us first to express concerns. There is no way for us to fix a problem if it’s not reported to us,” a project manager for the company said.
That project manager also said it is not unusual for companies to share leads they get from various sources.
However, HomeAdvisor says it is a violation of their user agreement for companies to do that.