Portage contractor accused of taking money, disappearing

Posted at 10:34 PM, Jan 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-15 22:34:49-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- To say Shann and Kimberly Berry have been patient is an understatement. They said their first interaction with drywall and paint contractor Duane Hensley would also be the last, and that was late 2016.

"We just kept playing call him, he didn't call us back. Call him. He didn't call us back," Kimberly Berry said.

However, she said Hensley gladly took her hard earned money back. They hired Hensley's Paint and Drywall out of Portage to replace, patch and paint their soggy, then perforated ceiling. The estimate was $1,200.

"We had given him $600 upfront because he asked for 50%, and that seemed reasonable," Berry said.

That was reasonable if the work had gotten done. But they say Hensley cashed the check the day he got it and never came back. Several months went by, and they say he only gave excuses.

Berry said, "So we finally just said, 'It's not going to work out. Just go ahead and give us back our money, and we'll just, we'll find somebody else.'"

"Then we stopped hearing from him. He stopped answering our calls," she continued.

So they went to small claims court and won their case plus $84 in court costs. They said Hensley didn't show up. After a second hearing, he finally sent them a fraction of what's owed. Yet, they said he still owes them nearly $600.

"My husband or I called or texted. We tried to do it every month. We just made it part of our routine," she said.

Berry added that the she and husband didn't want Hensley to think they'd forgotten. To really make sure things weren’t forgotten, Berry called the FOX 17 Problem Solvers.

A person familiar with Hensley, who asked to remain anonymous said, "He'll always ask for a downpayment, and that's all he wants and I used to tell him, 'These people are working their butts off for their house make it nicer. You're taking it away. Plus they have to go get somebody, hire somebody to start all over."

Several reviews on Hensley's Facebook business page show similar complaints. Previous customers call him a thief and warn others of his alleged practices.

"I teach school. My husband owns his own business. We just don't have a ton of money to throw around, and we would really have liked our ceiling fixed. Our home's our sanctuary, and he just ruined that for us. And it just wasn't a kind thing to do," Berry explained.

She said she had done her homework prior to hiring Hensley, and there were no bad reviews at the time. Berry said Hensley even came recommended. Well, her son and his friend ended up trying to patch it up temporarily.

Hensley's business now has an 'F' rating with the Better Business Bureau. Duane Hensley has not returned the Problem Solvers call for comment. We will stay on top of this.