ND Fines Asphalt Contractor, Warns Consumers
BISMARCK, ND – An Oklahoma paving company has been fined for doing work in the state before completing the process to obtain the required North Dakota contractor’s license. Sylvester Cooper of Spiro, Oklahoma, doing business as Cooper’s Sealcoating & Asphalt, had submitted a partial application for a contractor’s license to the Secretary of State’s office, but he had been notified the application was incomplete. He completed work and took payment even though he was not licensed.
“Every summer we see out of state paving companies arriving in North Dakota. Some are reputable companies following the available work, but many are fly-by-night operators who target rural communities, do poor quality work, and then flee the state before the complaints come in,” said Stenehjem. He also urged residents to beware of paving crews that offer to do work at a greatly reduced price or claim to have asphalt leftover from another job, saying, “That is often the story used by scam operators.”
The attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division contacted Cooper’s Sealcoating & Asphalt after receiving a complaint from a resident in a rural area that Cooper had knocked on her door and offered to use asphalt leftover from a job he had just completed in the local area. Cooper told the resident that he could not give a written quote until the asphalt had been spread but that it would be cheap because he had to get rid of the leftover asphalt before it hardened. Once the work was done, Cooper charged almost double what he had led the resident to believe the job would cost.
Cooper has cooperated with investigators, completed all requirements to obtain the required state license, and entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance that requires him to provide accurate written cost estimates and obtain signed contracts prior to starting any jobs. In addition to a $5,000 fine, Cooper paid restitution of $5,000 which was returned to the consumer.
Parrell Grossman, director of the Consumer Protection Division, reminded North Dakotans to make sure the contractor is properly licensed before agreeing to have any work done. “If paving work is not properly completed it may take months for the problems to show up. One advantage to using a reputable local company is that they will be around next year if cracks appear when the ground thaws next spring,” said Grossman.
Contractors must be licensed with the Secretary of State’s office if they perform work valued at $2,000 or more. Out of state contractors also must have a Transient Merchant license issued by the Attorney General’s office. Consumers can check the Secretary of State’s list of licensed contractors
online or by calling (701) 328-2900.
-Liz Brocker, ND Attorney General's Office