Florida AG Bondi sues hurricane shutter company
TALLAHASSEE.– Attorney General Pam Bondi today filed a lawsuit against hurricane shutter company Rolladen, Inc. and its principal, Robert Hoffman, for deceptive and unfair trade practices. Rolladen, a Hallandale-based company, markets and sells hurricane shutters and impact windows to Florida consumers and allegedly required substantial deposits up front but never installed the shutters or windows.
“As Floridians safeguard their homes against hurricanes, they deserve the assurance of knowing that they are doing business with fair and honest companies,” Bondi said in a news release. “My office will continue to investigate deceptive business practices and protect all of Florida’s consumers.”
According to an investigation started in March by the Attorney General’s Office, Rolladen required consumers to pay 40 to 80 percent of the contract price up-front for the hurricane shutters, promising delivery and installation within six to 12 weeks of the contract date. Reportedly, the company received more than $600,000 in consumer deposits for hurricane shutters, but in many cases, never delivered or installed the product.
The lawsuit, filed in the Broward County Circuit Court, seeks an order prohibiting Rolladen from marketing and selling shutters and windows until the company can complete installations in accordance with Florida contractor requirements. The lawsuit also seeks an immediate freeze on all assets of the company to maximize refunds to consumers. Hoffman was arrested last week by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office on charges of running an organized scheme to defraud and unlicensed contracting.
Below are some helpful tips for consumers who are purchasing hurricane shutters and having them installed:
- Confirm the contractor has a current state contractor’s license. Go to www.myfloridalicense.com to verify a license.
- Ask who will be doing the actual installation and confirm the installer is also licensed.
- Ask for and check references, and investigate the contractor with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org).
- Know what kind of protection you are purchasing. Some counties may have specific standards for storm shutters, so be sure to inquire in advance whether your shutters meet the applicable standards and retain copies of the specifications for insurance purposes.
- Know that “hurricane film” is not approved for residential use in Florida.
- Florida requires a building permit for installation of shutters and most windows and doors. Be sure your contractor is obtaining a permit for the installation.
- Make certain that all materials and supplies, permit fees, and installation costs are included in the price quoted in the written contract.
- Ask for a specific installation deadline and request the contractor to include the deadline in the contract.
- Beware if the contractor asks for payment in full before the work is completed.
- Contractors often require a deposit, but if you pay more than 10 percent of the contract price, the contractor must apply for a permit within 30 days and start work within 90 days of the issuance of the required permit(s). Florida Statutes Section 489.126.