NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - “When we’ve already invested $6,000 in this company, it’s hard to walk away from that kind of money,” Lakeview homeowner Lisha Fink said.
Lisha and Rob Fink signed a contract with a local fence company to install an iron fence around their Colbert Street home. “It was January 17th of 2020,” Rob Fink said.
They wrote Chris Chauvin of Crescent City Ironworks two checks, one in January 2020 for $3,000, a down payment. Then, two weeks later when the fence posts went up, they wrote another check for $2,820. They’d pay the balance once the job was complete.
“He said he was gonna have this thing up in a couple of weeks. We had the poles in place before the Super Bowl that year, and that was the last work that was ever done,” Rob Fink said. Nearly 16 months later and after payments totaling almost $6.000 all that had been installed at the Finks’ home was a bunch of posts and no fence. “He didn’t prime and paint them correctly, and so now they’re rusting. He didn’t put caps on the top of them so now they’re collecting water every time it rains,” Rob Fink said. He told us, he actually covered them with plastic so they wouldn’t fill with water.
Their experience sounds very similar to the one Uptown homeowner Cynthia McCray had. “I was so upset because that wasn’t a small amount of money,” she said in an interview late last year.
Like the Finks, a FOX 8 Defenders investigation last year found that McCray paid Chauvin, the same fence contractor, thousands of dollars, a down payment toward an iron fence that would run alongside her Uptown home, but for months, the unprimed, unpainted posts were all that was installed. It was a situation that closely resembled the Fink’s property.
When she reached out to the FOX 8 Defenders, I tracked down Chauvin at his shop in Kenner. Then he told me off camera, he’s a small business that has struggled to find skilled people willing to work in the midst of the pandemic. Soon after that conversation, workers finally finished McCray’s fence.
She waited nearly five months. For the Finks, the wait has been so much longer.
“This was before Covid shut down, and he was gonna have everything in before Mardi Gras that year,” Rob Fink said.
After dozens of texts and phone calls to Chauvin and visits to his Kenner shop trying to get answers, the Finks reached out to the Louisiana Attorney General for help. A local attorney even wrote a letter to Chauvin on their behalf. Still, there’s been no action.
“After your story aired we found out from one of Chris’ (Chauvin) workers that we were not the only ones in the area,” Rob Fink explained. They saw our FOX 8 Defenders report with McCray, and they too turned to us for help.
“Covid gave him a fresh arsenal of excuses,” Lisha Fink said. “He gives you a story of well I’ve been sick, or my mother’s been sick.. or she’s got Covid or my workers are out, but I’m gonna be right on it tomorrow or I’ve got this other job, and then I’m gonna be on it real quick and then I’m gonna be on yours. It’s always just right around the corner and then it never happens,” Rob Fink said.
Once again, I reached out to Chauvin by email April 9th, and almost immediately, hours later, he responded. He wrote in part, “I have made arrangements to have the Fink’s job completed.. with different workers. I no longer have a shop.. am trying to clean up everything left behind from past jobs.”
A few days later by phone he explained he’s again had trouble finding dependable workers so he sub contracted the job to an installer to fabricate and install fence panels at the Fink’s home.
“He dropped off some materials to our house, and it’s our understanding that the materials to fabricate the panels are now at the shop where they’re being built, and we’ve actually spoken to one of the men at the shop where they’re being fabricated so we have a little more to go on than his word.. the owner’s word.. that it’s happening,” Lisha Fink said. She said, in the past few days, the contractor dropped off a box of finials that will finish off the fence posts.
“Had you not made contact with him, he would still be dodging our calls and messages and there would be no progress whatsoever,” Lisha Fink said. Progress with a fence they’ve already spent nearly $6,000 on.. a fence they invested in for an extra layer of security that should have been completed more than a year ago, before the Covid-19 Pandemic started in early 2020.
Chauvin says his sub contractor is fabricating the fence panels this week and should begin installation by the weekend. In addition to trying to find skilled workers since the pandemic, he says the cost of materials has also gone up.
We will follow-up and let you know what happens with the Fink’s fence.
If you’ve got a consumer issue you’d like us to look into, call the FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women or fill out our online complaint form.
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