Summer is the season for scammers in Minnesota, and a St. Paul couple says they narrowly avoided being taken for a ride by a door-to-door driveway sealer.
Experts say door-to-door offers often involve watered-down chemicals or substandard materials that shouldn't be used at all. For an average person who answers the door, shady service providers may deliver a dud and get away with a few hundred bucks -- but if an elderly person is inside, they could be out thousands.
It should cost a couple hundred bucks to have a driveway properly sealed, but one metro couple was charged more than $8,000 for shoddy work.
"You feel so stupid and you're embarrassed," Opal Kuehn admitted.
Opal and Bob Kuehn have spent 53 years living in their St. Paul home, but they'd never had an experience quite like the one they did a couple weeks ago.
The Kuehns said it all began when a person claiming to be associated with a company that could do the work insisted they needed to have their driveway sealed. When the work was done, Opal was approached for a payment of $8,640.
After some squabbling, Opal Kuehns wrote a check for $7,000 -- but she didn't feel good about it.
"I didn't know," she said. "I didn't know."
Thinking she may have been taken for a ride, she called the police. Soon after, she got another call.
"The bank calls and said, 'Do you want to cash it?'" she recalled. "We said, 'No!'"
Nick Kelso, of Jet Black, was called into help fix the mess left behind.
"I saw it right after the fact, after it dried," he told FOX 9 News. "It had partially washed away and blobs all over -- it had splattered up on concrete. It definitely wasn't sealant. It was another oil product of some sort."
With help from Blue Dawg Power Wash, Jet Black fixed and sealed the driveway for free.
"This happens way too often and it amazes me who they target," Kelso told FOX 9 News.
According to Kelso, disreputable dealers go up and down neighborhoods looking for driveways to fix this time of year.
"The best bet is if an elderly person answers the door, they got a chance there to pull something off," he warned.
The Kuehns say they feel fortunate the check didn't get cashed and a company was willing to help them out. Now, they hope everyone learns a lesson from their experience.
"If it doesn't seem right, it's not right," Opal Kuehn said.
Kelso told FOX 9 News he tried to check out the company that contacted the Kuehns, calling several times but getting no response. He said they had a pretty generic name and did not believe they are local.
He also shared some advice, urging people to avoid walk-up sellers unless they have a recognizable name -- or if you can look them up online before you buy. Generally, he says the best approach is for the customer to seek out the job than the other way around.