comScore

Police believe Duluth company may have scammed customers for $100,000

“We have not received any payment and have not heard from [Jason Hicks] since,” a complaint says. “He does not return our calls or texts.”

“We have not received any payment and have not heard from [Jason Hicks] since,” a complaint says. “He does not return our calls or texts.” Getty Images/iStockphoto

In April, Scott and Wendy Struss were set to get a new patio door and bedroom windows for their Foxboro, Wisconsin home. They hired Jason Hicks of Hicks Window and Door, a Duluth company, and paid half their $3,500 fee as a deposit.

According to a complaint filed in St. Louis County District Court, the Strusses still haven’t gotten their new glass installed. They say their last exchange with Hicks was in September, when he informed them their windows and door were “not coming” and he was going to give their deposit back.

“We have not received any payment and have not heard from him since,” the complaint says. “He does not return our calls or texts.”

The Strusses' experience sounds familiar to Jill Bianchet of Duluth, who also tried to get Hicks to install some windows. She filed a complaint back in August saying she put $1,500 down, plus an additional $800 or so for “shipping,” and expected to have it all done in July. Instead, she says, Hicks never showed up. He didn’t even call.

These two cases are still pending, but others like them have been settled or dismissed over the years. The company has a C+ from the Better Business Bureau for failure to respond to a complaint filed against it, and there are similar echoes across the company’s Facebook and Google reviews.

“Paid $3,950 over one and a half years ago as down payment for new front door,” one reviewer said. “Never was ordered. Work never done.”

“I have multiple texts claiming the window is ‘in the shop’ and it will be ‘installed this week,’” another said. “The ‘this week’ text happened every week for about six weeks until he finally admitted he did not have the window and had no way of purchasing it… If this post is up I have received no payment from Hicks Window and Door.”

Hicks himself has called a few of the reviews “fake,” and he insists he never worked with the reviewer.

“You should be ashamed of yourself, whoever you are,” he wrote on a bad review posted five months ago.

But there’s a critical mass of Hicks customers complaining about unfinished glasswork—so many that law enforcement has begun to take notice.

On Tuesday, the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office put out a release saying “several people” had reported paying “thousands of dollars to this business” for work that never got done, and was never refunded. Customer losses may exceed $100,000, but it’s too soon for investigators to know for sure.

Authorities say there aren't any criminal charges yet, and Hicks is “cooperating,” but he didn’t respond to interview requests. According to a notice in the Duluth News Tribune, he filed for bankruptcy in October with nearly $400,000 in liabilities.

Investigators are encouraging people who have had similar experiences to contact Duluth police at 218-730-5729. (If you’re outside the city, contact St. Louis County at 218-336-4352.)