BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Buffalo home improvement contractor is being sued by the New York Attorney General for allegedly failing to provide services.

New York AG Eric T. Schneiderman announced the lawsuit against John Kniery, a home improvement contractor who runs the company Tree Service by John.

Kniery performs tree removal and trimming services. He is accused of taking payments from consumers but failing to provide the services for which he was paid.

“Any work that Kniery did perform was allegedly never fully completed,” a statement from Schneiderman’s office stated Thursday. “Rarely, if ever, did Kniery enter into written contracts with consumers that complied with New York State law.

The statement says that in one case, a consumer allegedly paid Kniery $2,000 in advance payments to remove several trees on the property.

“Kniery did not cut down all of the trees, nor did he remove any from the property, rendering the backyard unusable,” the statement said. “Kniery did not complete the work despite repeated calls from the consumer, who ended up paying another company $350 to remove the debris from his yard.”

Attorney General Schneiderman also charged that Mr. Kniery misled consumers by using the names of legitimate companies with which he has no relationship.

Kniery first came to the attention of Town of Hamburg Police after they received a number of complains about him.

Hamburg Police then referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office, which filed the lawsuit after completing investigation.

“Attorney General Schneiderman is seeking full restitution for consumers, civil penalties, and a court order requiring that Mr. Kniery post a $50,000 bond to protect consumers who may provide down payments in the future and enter into compliant written contracts with consumers,” the statement said.

Scheiderman’s office offers the following tips to help prevent consumers from being ripped off by contractors:

  • Never agree to have work done on the spot.Determine exactly what you want done and then seek out a qualified contractor.
  • Shop around. Get at least three estimates from reputable contractors that include specific information about the materials and services to be provided.
  • Get it in writing. The contract prepared must be a written contract that includes the price and description of the work needed.
  • Don’t pay unreasonable advance sums. Negotiate a payment schedule tied to the completion of specific stages of the job. Never pay the full price up front.
  • Get references. Check with the Better Business Bureau, banks, suppliers, and neighbors. Always contact references provided to you.
  • Know your rights. You have three days to cancel after signing a contract for home improvements. All cancellations must be in writing.

If this affects you, you can file a complaint by calling the Attorney General’s consumer hotline at 853-8404.