Court Finds Pittsburgh-Based Contractor Gillece Services Did Not Let Consumers Cancel Contracts and Misled Consumers in Advertising

August 4, 2023 | Topic: Consumers

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Michelle Henry announced major developments in the OAG’s lawsuit against home improvement contractor, Gillece Services, recently issued by the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. 

The Court has found Gillece and its owner, Tom Gillece Sr., to be in violation of the Pennsylvania Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act and the Pennsylvania Consumer Protection Law, as the OAG alleged in its ongoing suit, initially filed in 2020.

The Court found that Gillece engaged in misconduct resulting in violations — as alleged by the OAG — and ordered Gillece take immediate action to comply with state law.

“We are pleased with the Court’s findings and injunctive order regarding Gillece’s deceptive and unlawful treatment of consumers,” Attorney General Henry said. “We have more work to do in this suit, but the Court’s recent order offers immediate relief and protection to consumers.”

The lawsuit followed an original investigation in which the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection discovered that Gillece’s technicians allegedly failed to make a good faith effort to unclog consumers’ sewer pipes with a sewer snake before recommending costly excavation work to clear up any clogs. 

Upon consideration of the parties motions for summary judgment, the Court denied all of Gillece’s motions for summary judgment and found that Gillece Services and its owner engaged in the following misconduct that violated the Pennsylvania Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act and/or Pennsylvania Consumer Protection Law:

  • Refusing to honor customers’ requests to cancel their home improvement contracts;
  • Penalizing consumers who cancel contracts;
  • Failing to disclose and misrepresenting the right to cancel;
  • Utilizing advertising materials that make false or misleading statements regarding the qualifications of Gillece’s technicians, including that these technicians were “certified,” “licensed,” and “background-checked;”
  • Utilizing advertising materials that fail to clearly and conspicuously disclose material terms and restrictions on Gillece’s advertising offers of the “Clog Crusher” and “Same Day or You Don’t Pay;” and,
  • Misrepresenting to consumers that Gillece was prohibited by law from providing itemized invoices to consumers or charging by parts and labor and misrepresenting that Gillece was required by law to use flat-rate pricing.

The Court also issued several injunctions against Gillece and its owner, which required them to comply with the law. Specifically, the Court required Gillece to permit consumers to revoke their contracts within three business days, provide timely refunds to consumers who cancel within three business days, and clearly and conspicuously disclose in its advertising and all materials the terms and restrictions for any offers.

Finally, the Court also prohibited Gillece from:

  • Misrepresenting that consumers’ deposits are non-refundable unless that consumer signs a valid emergency work authorization form when there is a bona fide emergency; and
  • Misrepresenting that Gillece is prohibited by law from providing itemized invoices or prohibited by law from charging by parts and labor, or that Gillece is mandated by law to use flat-rate pricing.

Any civil penalties and/or restitution will be assessed at trial.

The remaining issues in the lawsuit, including allegations that Gillece has recommended unnecessary work and utilized scare tactics, will be tried at a later date.

The case is being handled by Senior Deputy Attorney General Jill Ambrose. 

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