CHICAGO — An Illinois home improvement business has agreed to pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit filed by state Attorney General Lisa Madigan, alleging the company tricked customers into paying for repair work they did not know they were ordering.
According to the Illinois Attorney General's Office, American Dream Home Improvement Inc., (ADHI) sent out sales people into neighborhoods after a storm hit the area and coerced homeowners into signing forms for "free damage inspections" that were actually contracts for home repairs.
“We made the decision to cooperate with the Illinois Attorney General’s office right after we learned the office filed a lawsuit late last year, so that we could continue to move forward and refocus our energy on what we do best—providing homeowners the superior customer service and quality craftsmanship they’ve come to expect from ADHI. As the settlement reflects, ADHI cooperated throughout the process and there also was no admission of any wrongdoing," the company said in a statement.
"To be clear, although ADHI denies the allegations in the lawsuit, the company took those allegations very seriously right from the start, and with appropriate input from our suppliers while also considering feedback from our valued customers, we quickly made concrete improvements to our processes and our compliance systems. Additionally, long before this settlement was announced we had already enhanced our training, revised our code of ethics, and we have placed accountability and transparency at the center of all that we do at ADHI—from our leadership to our sales teams to our contractors.”
The forms were written to purposely deceive homeowners and did not disclose materials, total charges, a cancelation policy and other legally required information, the Attorney General's Office said. Many homeowners did not understand they were authorizing work to begin when signing the forms, according to the office.
“For too many homeowners in search of property inspections and home repair services after storms, working with American Dream was nothing but a nightmare,” Madigan said in a statement. “This settlement will provide restitution to people who were scammed by American Dream’s deceptive and aggressive sales tactics.”
The settlement includes restitution for homeowners who have been affected by American Dream's practices and also prohibits the company from any further deceptive business practices, according to Madigan's office.